What’s Missing?

by Harvey Wrightman

The much awaited ERT report/decision  into the Chatham/Kent wind project seems weighty enough for an official document; but, having attended some of the sessions, I can say that not everything is reported let alone commented on. I thought I should report on the report, since I am one of those “inconvenient” rural receptors who cause so much consternation for our political and administrative masters – rather, those who imagine they are our masters – we’ll see about that. 

Really, the report is more notable not for what it discusses, but more for what it doesn’t discuss or wish to confront.  For example, acoustician Rick James provided a well thought out description and explanation of the change in cyclic noise modulation, where under conditions of night time wind shear, light swishing of 1 – 3 dBA morphs into heavy metal thumping of 5 – 15 dBA , from actual measurements at project sites. Brian Howe, testifying for the MOE skirts the same issue of cyclic noise by saying that, “… modeling of sound levels is reliable for mean levels but in practice, there is going to be statistical variation with time that can vary by plus or minus 5 dBA on a fairly consistent basis.” –  he goes on to hint that the MOE is trying to address this “statistical variation.” –  I wonder what they have in store for us???

Similarly, R. Skinner, Hatch acoustician states …”it is not necessary to add 5 dBA as suggested by Mr. James.” Because the models were run with the turbine at full power and sound output.  Ah yes, that’s true; but,  like the other Judas characters in this production, he ignores the huge increase  in cyclic noise modulation. Zipping down to  the concluding discussion/remarks/decision, I look in vain for any mention of “cyclic noise”, “swishing” or “thumping”; Nope, none  there. Though the Tribunal was able to accurately report Mr. James’ argument,  they chose not to reference it in their decision  – very odd, and a definite weakness in the decision, for there is ample evidence that “blade thumping” under night time wind shear conditions is the driver of the stressful panic awakenings. But, according to the Panel, this evidence is “exploratory”, not “definitive.” – drives you mad, don’t it?!

This is a complex  tome which mirrors the obvious doubts of the Panel has.  They quote Dr. Shepherd, “… there is not a single credible research paper in the peer reviewed literature stating that chronic wind turbine noise is harmless to health, and rather, there is an emerging body of evidence that under certain circumstances wind turbine noise can have substantial physiological and psychological impacts on individuals.” –  right, an indirect endorsement and call for epidemiological studies, I suppose. Why don’t you just outright call for it then???

The  biggest missing piece was no mention of Bill Palmer’s brilliant analysis of the Enbridge wind project near Kincardine. What was most compelling about this paper was that noise data from a study  compliled by Valcoustics (for Enbridge and initiated by  complaints) was paired with meterological data from Environment Canada and IESO hourly reports of power output of the wind facility. Using a simple, but effective method, Bill eliminated the bulk of extraneous noise by focusing on the night time hours (midnight)  – no elaborate set-ups or “value judgements” needed to things like eliminate traffic noise, birds, etc. At the same time, this time focus brings emphasis to the peculiar conditions that exist at night, especially when the phenomenon of night time wind shear fully presents itself.  Using a large sample base of 111 midnight readings, Mr.Palmer demonstrated that 50% of the time the recorded noise was above the modeled limit, and 25% of the time noise was above 40 dBA – and this using Valcoustics own data.

Compelled to offer some comment about Mr.Palmer’s work, Geoff Leventhall spoke only of a separate data set that Mr.Palmer collected  for another analysis, saying that,  “Mr. Palmer did not use the normal class of equipment “ –  no comment on the analysis of Valcoustics data, however.

So, here we have a case where an intelligent person who happens also to be an engineer, has provided valuable insight into the causes of the night time noise. Does he work for any organization – NO – it’s purely his own project. Clearly this perplexed the Panel, and  though they  dared not to exclude the testimony, as Suncor’s Engel and the MOE’s Rotter rather shrilly called for, they really preferred not to use it. Pity. They missed a chance to show considered judgement.  Like Mr. Palmer, they are bound to serve and  protect citizens.

The question for the Tribunal is, “Why didn’t you at least report on this study? What’s your rationale for ignoring something so  cogent and concise?”  Note, that none of the other witnesses for the MOE or Suncor dared to mention this paper, let alone criticize it –  it strikes at the heart of the matter and they know it.  The tribunal, noting the  validity of “indirect health pathology” did issue a rebuff to the MOE and industry for slyly focusing on “direct health issues”, ie., hearing loss.

It also has clarified and sanitized the word “annoyance”, as used in a medical sense. Unfortunately, the tribunal has either a lack of curiosity or perhaps a fear of the (un)known factors that comprise the chimeral nature of wind turbine noise. And, following typical bureaucratic line, simply state that they would prefer more clarity on the issues of the argument. Again they quote Dr. Shepherd, “… that the literature regarding the health effects of wind turbines is caught somewhere between the first and second stages.” 

-So, for us out here, what comes after Purgatory?

14 thoughts on “What’s Missing?

  1. This is a sad state of affairs, things aren’t reported because it’s more convenient not to. They fear (mistakenly) that some investigative reporters might actually look at what’s going on and start reporting it. There are no reporters anymore — most except the press releases given them by the wind company even if it’s obvious the info isn’t correct rather than asking.
    As long as money flows like water to the wind companies in the form of grants and the like I’m afraid it won’t end soon.

    • Also in the US check out the Environmental Defense Fund in addition to the Sierra Club. EDF & CGI togther.

  2. As most of us here are aware of the financial gains and relationships which are not revealed when ECO groups speak on behalf of these developments or that they are actually funded in part by the Ontario Liberals , with your tax dollars.
    8 years have past where these groups have seen significant job growth that are no more than advertising agencies for the agenda of selling us power at a profit subsidized by our money.
    I feel if the public began to realize that these groups that speak for a better planet are in fact in partnership to sell us on a business venture , rather than saving the planet it may spark the fire needed .
    This is an industry that stands to make billions selling us power thus a great deal is on the line for them.
    For us only energy poverty…..it has been a well thought out plan and very well directed and misdirected masterfully.

  3. Thanks for the report Harvey. Your time spent on this issue, going to sit in at the hearings, plus reporting the details to us, is greatly appreciated.
    It`s hard enough to read about the shams, these IWT related hearings obviously are, but for you having been there in person to witness, then reading their report, must really make you shake your head.
    It`s an insult to our intelligence. One must wonder, just how stupid do they thi nk we are?
    And how long do they think they can hide the truth?
    I suppose, just long enough to get these monstrosities approved & in our face , is their aim.
    Well, their end is here. Games over. Liberals are toast!
    McGuinty really made a fool of himself & Ontario, at the first ministers confab, in Vancover a few days ago. It`ll be all downhill from now till Oct. 6/11.
    Every time a Liberal speaks, they loose more ground.
    Thanks again Harvey

  4. We will see what kind of people Ontarians are at election time. Proof is in the pudding. Energy poverty is secondary to those as myself; robbed of our health and homes. I will never have the health I had before the onslaught of turbines. Home? I have no sense of home. I stay at a place where I am able to survive and keep a few of my things; until September, then I have to look for somewhere else to live, bringing it to three places in the past two years. At least I have not had to resort back to sleeping in my vehicle. Most people have no idea what devastation is experienced by the turbines, the government and the wind companies until it comes to their community. Living this experience has been hell; a test of endurance like no other. Those responsible should be held accountable. To continue not acknowledge the harmful effects and devastation brought on by placing turbines too close to homes is criminal. Our government has failed to serve us due diligence.

    • At your home are you also dealing with stray voltage in addition to the IWT noise/sound? So how many people have to deal with both problems or only with one of the problems at any given time? Any figures compiled yet?

      • Perhaps it’s time to ask people in any IWT areas to report any noise and/ or stray voltage in or near their property. Compile the data and map the affected areas for all Ontarians to view. Then it will be possible to determine at what distances IWTs are affecting people.

  5. I don’t know how to measure noise any more than the MoE can, nor do I know how to measure stray voltage.

    Barbara, would you kindly explain to me how you want me to do as you suggest?

    • No measurements are needed. All that is needed are individual reports from around an IWT area that IWT noise can be heard in a particular location within the area. Mark the locations on a town map. Same with stray voltage. Some may report both. You could do night and day or any number of things with this kind of anecdotal information. Best to start in simple way then expand as information is gathered

      • People are connecting the dots now aren’t they!

        Anecdotal information is good information. So don’t let others say this isn’t so. This kind of information is used all the time.

    • The government never bothered to survey people in areas affected by IWTs to determine if there were any health or other problems related to the presence of IWTs. So no anecdotal information was gathered. Now is the time for the people to do this. All the government wanted to use was peer reviewed literature as information. No affected witnesses were called to testify

  6. Did you read duguids open letter on the same page?

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