Lower Your Voice, Councilor Oliver

Stephana Johnson at a previous meeting

By Daniel Pearce, Simcoe Reformer
Tensions over wind turbines boiled over briefly at town hall Tuesday night after an aboriginal from Six Nations interrupted a councillor in mid-speech and told him to “lower your voice.” Wearing a traditional headdress and holding a feather, the aboriginal was standing next to Stephana Johnston of Clear Creek to support her while she asked elected officials to study the health impact a wind farm has had on people living in the far west end of the county.

He apparently didn’t like the way Charlotteville Coun. Jim Oliver was questioning Johnston — who has talked to council numerous times about the ill-effects she says she and her neighbours have suffered from the spinning blades of the turbines — when he made the comment.

Mayor Dennis Travale banged his gavel and told the man and another aboriginal standing on the other side of Johnston they had to sit down.

Initially, they refused and remained standing.

“Respect our council as we respect yours,” Travale told the men, who then went to benches in the public gallery where they joined another 10 or so aboriginals also wearing headdresses and holding feathers.

Johnston has been at the forefront of public opposition to wind turbines for many months. She insists she can no longer live in her Clear Creek home and that her neighbours have been sickened and in some cases forced to move due to the infrasound waves produced from the spinning blades. One person, she said, committed suicide.

On Tuesday night, she asked council to order the local health unit to conduct a study of the 70 people in her area of the county who have signed a petition saying the turbines have impacted them negatively.

Johnston, a retired school teacher, suggested health officials also choose a similar area near the lakeshore in Haldimand County where there are no turbines to conduct a comparative study of people’s health.

The matter has been referred to the advisory committee of the board of health the two counties share. Johnston will have to make her presentation to that body in January.

On Tuesday night, elected officials expressed fear that the study might be a waste of time. Sole authority over approvals for green energy projects rests with the province, not municipalities, and Queen’s Park has not taken opposition to wind turbines seriously, they noted.

“I hope you have the courage to do in your power what you can do,” Johnston told council. “You have the power to create this study and send it to the province and the minister of health. Why not do that on our behalf?”

The survey, she added, would be a “pilot project” and could spur other town halls to order similar studies.

Patti Moore, manager of the health unit Norfolk and Haldimand counties share, expressed reservations over whether the health unit has the expertise or the money to carry out such a study.

Previous studies in other jurisdictions, Moore noted, were done by people with PhDs and probably had special funding.

Travale suggested to Johnston that she ask Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett to table a private member’s bill in the legislature supporting her cause.

Daniel Pearce

10 thoughts on “Lower Your Voice, Councilor Oliver

  1. Good job Stephana!
    — and thanks to the Six Nations representatives for lending their support.
    One must wonder why some members of Norfolk council and administrators are using all kinds of excuses to avoid supporting citizens well being.

  2. I agree, great work Stephana and Six Nations. So sorry that so many still feel bullied by Liberals.

  3. Charlotteville should set the reference frame for any survey with care. There is no point in repeating the framework of earlier studies elsewhere. What seems to be established is that a not-insignificant proportion of observers is seriously affected.
    A survey could certainly establish why Some Clear Creek residents are affected by emissions from the wind turbines. If those same persons have no adverse response outside the influence zone, then their ‘Annoyance’ has to be generated by the tower emissions. A second check is given by the correlation of annoyance with the timing of wind tower activity.
    The affected group are most likely to be the same persons who ‘hear’ the infrasound emissions from electrical substations.

    It is possible to measure fluctuations in the short term, near instantaneous, levels of sound energy reaching the skin – say from five millisecond sound level samples. This pattern shows that peak energy levels occur as each blade passes behind the support tower and that these energy pulses have a magnitude of many times the average level.
    The energy level is given by the cross product of the sound pressure level and the rate of change of that level. It has no direct relationship to the usually measured sound pressure levels and even less to any decibel or audibility conversion of the microphone output.
    ‘Neural Firing’ from the touch receptors in the skin occurs from energy inputs above some threshold level and a continuous repeat discharge effect has been shown for some Pacinian Corpuscles where this ‘resonance’ is generated if the main energy pulses are accompanied by a second stimulus with lesser peaks spaced at between 6 and 10 milliseconds.

    Earlier sound surveys which tried to correlate annoyance levels with average (rather than instantaneous) levels of the ‘total envelope’ generated sound seem to have been inconclusive even when they included the infrasound element.
    Also, (a) Annoyance has no obvious relationship with a filtered microphone response, either to the audible sound element and (b) there is no reason to suppose that the physical corpuscular response has any direct relationship to decibel scaling of the sound as detected by a microphone.

    So, even if the council finance a study, the terms of reference need to be carefully drawn. They need to study, as well as the tower emissions, the possible sources of secondary infrasound emissions (e.g. electrical sub stations). Such a study would produce a scale to show how energy levels at Clear Creek differ from other similar locations.

    The fundamental assessment problem would then be that there is not, as yet, any research to show what proportion of observers respond with unacceptable annoyance across the scale of energy emissions.

  4. Local council wants to put “health study” off onto the county health unit which is under the MOH so nothing will get done with all the delays. Result is local council can wash hands of health studies.
    Health studies are being made so complicated that nothing gets done. Seems like a run around game. Find out how many people are being affected and where they live in relation to the turbines. Then go from there and this won’t cost much.
    Compare this to identifying something like who has chicken pox in a given area.Or looking for the source of a disease outbreak in an area. Maybe I’m wrong but at least keep it simple at first.

    • “Then go from there and this won’t cost much”
      At 81 the cost to Stephana is her health
      She needs help from everyone by joining together,
      stand with her as Six Nations has.
      I hope she writes to Prince Philip .

    • That’s exactly what was requested – that in the preparation of the protocol the KISS principle be applied.

    • I sympathise. BUT we will never be able to prove the health effects of the energy emissions from wind turbines if sound studies continue to concentrate on the sound magnitudes rather than the intensity ( sound energy) emitted by the turbine blades. This intensity, at the observer fluctuates sharply as each blade passes the support column.

      The touch sensors in the skin are able to detect impacting energy and this causes a steady state response in the somatosensoty cortex. It has been suggested that the ‘sound like’ quality of the ‘annoyance’ (which correlates with the energy emitted by the generating towers) is either a representation of this steady state or a referred response to the auditory cortex, rather than direct sensing through the ears.

      The University of Toronto has published papers in connection with transient and steady state responses in the human somatosensory cortex (e.g. Nangini et al, Neuroimage, 2006 Oct 15). This showed that physical stimuli at low frequencies with extensive intervals produce continuous steady state responses.
      A wind tower blade emits sound and the measured intensity at the observer peaks every ~800 milliseconds. The annoyance ‘heard’ by the observer also peaks every 800 milliseconds at every blade pass.

      This coincidence requires investigation. The sound like ‘annoyance’ caused by the towers correlates with the large fluctuations in the intensity of the emitted, inaudible, sound.

      If the observer is close enough to a tower the annoyance occurs simultaneiously with the audible components from the turbine machinery and the ‘blade swish. These audible component are themselves a huge problem.
      Further away the low frequency annoyance dominates. All the worse as it is no longer masked by the audible sound components.

  5. The boldface comment flies in the face of the HEALTH study commissioned by the Japanese govt last year which it is thought will last for ~ 4 years.

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