Health risk associated with wind turbines needs to be studied

Letter to the Editor  Cornwall Freeholder

The opposition being experienced by ProWind in the Woodstock area is not associated with “misinformation” or a desire to be paid for turbines, but rather a wealth of knowledge regarding adverse effects, based on science and current experiences at many industrial wind developments worldwide. The effects are neither as rare nor as trivial as the wind developers claim.

The Township of Norwich has sufficient concerns regarding the effects of industrial wind developments and ProWind’s proposal that its council passed the following resolution: “No consideration be given to wind turbines until County of Oxford encourages the Province of Ontario to provide more research on guidelines and impacts.” The County of Oxford has joined many municipalities requesting the federal and provincial governments to dedicate resources for scientific research to assess health risks.

Contrary to the “strictly regulated” claim for turbine design and placement, facts show:

  • Ontario MoE regulations do not account for C-decibel sound (often trivialized by acousticians but not by physicians and medical researchers, who have associated these effects with vibroacoustic disease)
  • “Noise” assessments for the Environmental Screening report can be prepared by a self-proclaimed ‘qualified acoustical consultant’, without any professional obligations or legal requirements (these assessments and the Environmental Screening Report may be performed by individuals closely linked to the wind industry with potential vested interest in ensuring project approval)
  • MoE “noise” limits are routinely exceeded in existing projects without appropriate policing, penalties or restitution
  • Erroneous or questionable conclusions are drawn from some “studies” often quoted by wind industry proponents — for example, the Colby/Chatham-Kent Health Unit report, a literature review currently being questioned.

Mr. Geleynse’s comparison of an industrial wind turbine to a household appliance demonstrates either a lack of knowledge or an attempt to deceive the public. Any device capable of generating 2MW of electricity can hardly be compared to a household appliance. Kumar and Kannan describe in the ‘International Journal of Energy Technology and Policy’ the effects wind turbines have on power quality and generation of “electrical pollution”. Styles et al. have measured and described low frequency vibration detectable many kilometres from industrial wind turbines.

It is interesting that Mr. Geleynse suggests evaluating health of those with turbines on their properties.  Health issues have been reported in these individuals, although there is an under-reporting bias in this population. Many landowners regret having signed over their properties to the wind industry and are either embarrassed, intimidated or legally bound not to publicly disclose adverse effects due to their contracts.

To date, no definitive epidemiological studies have been performed. Literature reviews fail to take into account real observations right here in Ontario that are driving residents from their homes and rendering their homes worthless.

As for Mr. Geleynse being “skeptical” of health claims, we will stick with the advice of Dr. McMurtry, former UWO Dean of Medicine and Assistant Deputy Minister of the population and Public Health Branch of Health Canada.

It is encouraging to hear Premier McGuinty’s recent commitment to an examination of the health issues involved with turbines. We know he will want to go well beyond speaking only to the manufacturers and promoters of these turbines to gain as balanced a picture as possible. A full, independent and comprehensive epidemiological study is what is required to ensure the health and well-being of those whose quality of life is now, or will be, permanently affected by the installation of giant industrial wind turbine generators where they live.

Joan Morris and Libby Leeson, Woodstock, Ont.