Hundreds attend wind turbine meeting in Stratford

by Laura Cudworth, Stratford Beacon Herald

Stephana Johnston is 80 years old and sleeping on her son’s couch because she can’t go home. Everytime she goes home she gets a “stuffiness” in her ears and a “buzzing” in her brain. Her home is on the north shore of Lake Erie and surrounded by 18 wind turbines. She’s convinced they’re the source of her troubles.

“I’ve been trying to sell for over a year but no one wants to buy it. I can see every one of the turbines,” she said.

Johnston was one of about 300 people at a meeting last night put on by West and East Perth Against Turbines (WEPAT) at the Arden Park Hotel. The group formed less than a month ago but is one of several like it in other rural counties.

Dr. Robert McMurtry, former dean of medicine at the University of Western Ontario, said he thought wind turbines were a good idea and considered them for his Prince Edward County property until he began researching.

“There’s no doubt in my mind people are suffering adverse health effects,” he said.

Symptoms presented at the meeting ranged from inner ear problems and sleep deprivation to heart problems including hypertension.

One of the recurring concerns is the low frequency noise. Another issue is the “shadow flicker” caused by the revolving blades.

“It’s very difficult to escape from even if you close your eyes,” said Carmen Krogh, former director with Health Canada.

Krogh did a “windvoice survey” to study the effects of the inaudible and audible noise on the body.

“We’ve moved from strong suspicions to there’s no doubt people are adversely effected,” she said.

She had “victim impact statements” from people around the world including Germany and Japan.

In a phone interview before the meeting, local MPP and Environment Minister John Wilkinson said he would live near a wind turbine as long as it met the minimum requirements set out by the province.

A single wind turbine must be at least a distance of 550 metres away from where people live, sleep, pray, work or go to school. If there’s more than one turbine the distance is greater than 550 metres.

McMurtry suggested the 550 metre distance is arbitrary.

“We have searched far and wide and deep. It’s a false claim. They can’t say 550 metres is sound science. That claim can’t be substantiated,” he said.

Regulations also require wind turbines cannot have a noise level above 40 decibels which is considered “background noise” by the World Health Organization, Wilkinson said.

Because the province regulates wind turbines, if they’re noisier than 40 decibels the province can shut them down, Wilkinson added.

The province gets advice from Dr. Arlene King, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health.

“As long as (turbines) are a sufficient distance away and not exceeding the noise (limits), there’s no evidence there’s an effect on human health,” Wilkinson said.

“Having said that, we are open to any new science.”

McMurtry and Krogh both insist there’s plenty of science to show there are negative consequences on the health of people around the turbines.

McMurtry also insists the onus of responsibility for proof is on the province to follow the precautionary principle. If there’s the potential for harm, it’s up to the government to show there is none, he said.

McMurtry was also critical of King’s report. He said it was just a review of the literature that was previously published and it ignored any literature that raised alarms.

The final speaker of the night, Dave Collings had wind turbines on his farm property until last December when the lease expired.

“These things destroy your neighbourhood and your neighbours,” he said.

Four houses around his property are empty now.

He also noted, there are no earth worms near wind turbines because of the sonic vibration and the ground currents generated by the turbines. “Dirty energy” or stray voltage from the lines substations is another factor making people sick, he said. He tests properties around the Ripley area.

He advised any farmers considering signing a lease to show it to a corporate lawyer because the leases favour the wind power companies, he said.

Wilkinson was invited to attend the meeting but couldn’t go because he’s taken an oath that forbids him from attending public meetings, either for or against, projects he may later make a decision about, he said.

“A referee doesn’t lace up his skates with any member of a hockey team before a game,” he said.

“We have to make decisions based on (a project’s) merits or lack thereof.”

His attendance at a public event could be interpreted as an endorsement of a certain side, he suggested.

While the debate continues, Johnston has offered her house up as a research centre for renewable energy and health.

10 thoughts on “Hundreds attend wind turbine meeting in Stratford

  1. Re Statement by Dr. McMurtry…

    *******************************
    “A single wind turbine must be at least a distance of 550 metres away from where people live, sleep, pray, work or go to school. If there’s more than one turbine the distance is greater than 550 metres.

    McMurtry suggested the 550 metre distance is arbitrary.

    “We have searched far and wide and deep. It’s a false claim. They can’t say 550 metres is sound science. That claim can’t be substantiated,” he said.”

    ********************************

    This is an example of screwed up (sometimes called “Post Normal”) science.

    If you make a conjecture or promote a hypothesis or theory… then YOU are expected to prove your theory. It is not up to the other side to prove your conjecture. It is up to the Ministry of Environment to prove the claim It is up to the wind companies — not us. It is up to them to measure the sound accurately and develop the methodology for same. It’s their company, their profit mill.

    The idea that 550 Meters is safe (or not) is simply conjecture as the Wind industry has never “proved” that noise from wind turbines is safe. One of the documents quoted and relied upon by CANWEA acknowledges that infra-sound reaches a sound pressure level of 105db. Is that safe? Especially as you are exposed on a constant basis? The 105 db level is considered appropriate for HiFi — so you can get the full dynamic range of music. It’s loud! Woof Woof! Wake up li’l doggies.

    The following sheet from UOttawa should be of interest to most.

    http://www.uottawa.ca/services/ehss/docs/SafetySheet-Noise.pdf

    Do recall that the New Zealand study relied upon by CANWEA claims that Wind Turbines produce no more than 105 db sound pressure. Of course it could be higher as their methodology might not be as exact as required…

    Truly we do live in the “Age of Stupid” — where the ministers responsible for a ministry know nothing of the science behind their ministry. Perhaps Ministry is the correct word because the follow the Green Religion.

    A sad situation indeed.

    Cheers

  2. For further enlightenment please refer to thsi government information.

    http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/phys_agents/exposure_can.html

    “Occupational exposure limits (OELs) for noise are typically given as the maximum duration of exposure permitted for various noise levels. They are often displayed in exposure-duration tables like Table 1A and Table 1B. The OELs depend on two key factors that are used to prepare exposure-duration tables: the criterion level and the exchange rate. “

  3. And Here is the Passage form the NZ Study….

    ************************
    11 LOW-FREQUENCY SOUND/INFRASOUND FROM WIND TURBINE
    GENERATORs

    There is little data available concerning the level of sound emission in the infrasound range of frequencies from modern wind turbine generators. The limited information available indicates that the level of emission of these frequencies is little or no more than at the higher frequencies in the octave above 20Hz.

    This level of infrasound emission is so low that it would be inaudible even at reasonably close distances to a wind turbine generator.

    The typical range of sound power level for wind turbine generators is in the range of 100 to105dBA – a much lower sound power level (10dB or more) than the majority of construction machinery such as dozers. In order for infrasound to be audible even to a person with the most sensitive hearing at a distance of, say, 300metres would require a sound power level of at least 140dB at 10Hz and even higher emission levels than this at lower frequencies and at greater distances. There is no information available to indicate that wind turbine generators emit
    infrasound anywhere near this intensity.

    The information available from manufacturers on wind turbines indicates that the sound power level of a typical wind turbine in the 16Hz one third octave band is around 105dB at a wind speed of 10m/s. It is unlikely that the sound power level in the lower frequency bands than this would be substantially any higher than 105dB. This means that the sound pressure level at only 100 metres distance will be in the approximate range of 50dB to 55dB and this is far lower than the audibility threshold of around 85dB for this low frequency sound. Frequencies lower than 16Hz have an even higher threshold level than this and the level of mission is not likely to be any higher. Therefore the sound pressure level of very low frequency infrasound (<16Hz) will be even lower relative to the audibility threshold for those frequencies.

    From:

    LOW FREQUENCY NOISE AND INFRASOUND FROM
    WIND TURBINE GENERATORS:
    A LITERATURE REVIEW

    By: George Bellhouse
    Date: 30th June 2004

    ********************************

    So they are relying on a study where the author admits (in Science speak I admit) "we don't have a clue — except that it could be 105 db" — "less than a dozer". Great! That helps. But for hours on end with no protection?

    The "sound pressure" does not change just because you can't hear the noise…

    Just because you can't hear it it can't hurt you… Right? Sure, that's good science eh? Maybe if they painted the turbines so that we did not see them. Maybe that would help. No see, No harm, no foul! Got it?

    http://www.canwea.ca/pdf/talkwind/Low%20Frequency%20Noise%20and%20Infrasound%20from%20Wind%20Turbine%20Generators.pdf

    It might be easier to google it and download it — the document hangs up when you try to read it with Firefox. I did save a copy.

    Maybe they have noticed the discrepancies between the document and their stated position.

    Cheers…

  4. Wilkinson is a liar. There could not be an oath to not get the whole picture! He stayed away so that his buddies would not think he was questioning the ideology. He is a coward for not representing ALL of the people! To insult the public with an out and out lie just shows his insincerity. Hope he is put out the door in the next election!

  5. How is it that our local Liberal MPP, Maria Van Bommel attended the company open house for the Adelaide project, but not not for the citizen-sponsored info session.
    It’s a rubber ruler they use.

  6. Are wind turbines exempt from the S9 process…?

    http://www.ene.gov.on.ca/en/publications/forms/index.php#Noise

    I gather not — a special form — carefully avoiding the problems…

    and

    Application for Approval (Air and Noise) 4173e.pdf or 4174e

    For those who have not followed the noise arguments… 4709e.pdf lays out the tests for turbines… (Tests which can be easily met…)

    On page 16/20 they supply the Octave bands to be tested… The lowest is 63 — this means the frequencies of 44.2 to 88.4 Hz (Cycles per second).

    This is well above any troublesome infra-sound frequencies which could be as low as 1Hz up to 40Hz… and the NZ study acknowledges could be as high as 105dB at the source…. This is problematic as low frequency noise loses energy slowly — and creeps around corners…. The attenuation in dB at 4h3 63Ocatve is .1dB per KM — and it would be about the same for lower frequencies…

    See page 17/20 for the required report which must be A-Weighted — audible frequencies — which infra-sound is NOT to most people… although the energy will be absorbed by your body — the ear is not the receptor…. and that is the basis of the issue.

    So that was an interesting trip…

  7. Laura Cudworth mentioned that I had offered my house which is surrounded by the 18 Vestas 1.65 MW IWT’s all jammed in within a 3 km radius by the Clear Creek/Cultus/Frogmore IWT ZONE.

    To elaborate: when Dr. Siva Sivoththaman of UWaterloo was appointed Chair of Renewable Energy Technologies and Health, I congratulated him on the appointment and the world reknowned team which would be working with him and offered the house as the Ontario Centre for the Study of the Adverse Health Effectsd of IWT’s on the > 70 residents within the ~ 140 houses in our IWT ZONE who signed a petition saying they were affected by the IWT’s.

    At the International Symposium on the Effects of IWT’s held in Picton at the end of Oct, I met the researcher who was chosen to work on the Health aspect of Dr. Sivoththaman’s chairmanship, Professor Bigelow, also fo UWaterloo and again made the offer of my house as a Centre for Research into the Adverse Health Effects of 18 IWT’s all sited within a 3 km radius. Interviewing the ~ 70 people affected would be very energy efficient.

    I am losing hope that there will be any research witih the ClearCreek/Cultus/Frogmore IWT ZONE unless perhaps everyone who reads this post takes up the challenge to write to Dr.’s Sivoththaman and Bigelow about the research they are planning.

    Many thanks to all those who do write.

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