Stop These Things
At the recent 168th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, a session was dedicated to research papers related to wind turbine noise and noise standards. Here are the slides and notes from one of these presentations – made by William Palmer, a Professional Engineer based in Canada who listened to what people were saying and used their abandoned homes to better understand the annoyance from wind turbines.
Wind Turbine Annoyance – a clue from acoustic room modes
Acoustical Society of America
29 October 2014
When one admits that they do not know all the answers and sets out to listen to the stories of people annoyed by wind turbines, the clues can seem confusing. Why would some people report that they could get a better night’s sleep in an outdoor tent, rather than their bedroom?
Others reported that they could sleep better in the basement recreation room of their home, than in bedrooms. That made little sense either.
A third mysterious clue came from acoustic measurements at homes nearby wind turbines. Analysis of the sound signature revealed low-frequency spikes, but at amplitudes well below those expected to cause annoyance.
The clues merged while studying the acoustic room modes in a home, to reveal a remarkable hypothesis as to the cause of annoyance from wind turbines. In rooms where annoyance was felt, the frequencies flagged by room mode calculations and the low-frequency spikes observed from wind turbine measurements coincided.
This paper will discuss the research and the results, which revealed a finding that provides a clue to the annoyance, and potentially even a manner of providing relief. Read article
The Brown County Board of Health voted tonight to declare the Shirley Wind Turbine Development a Human Health Hazard. The decision was based on a report of a year-long study conducted by the Enz family with assistance from Mr Rick James to document acoustic emissions from the wind turbines including infrasound and low frequency noise, inside homes within a radius of 6 miles of the Shirley Wind turbines.
The wording of the motion was as follows:
“To declare the Industrial Wind Turbines in the Town of Glenmore, Brown County. WI. a Human Health Hazard for all people (residents, workers, visitors, and sensitive passersby) who are exposed to Infrasound/Low Frequency Noise and other emissions potentially harmful to human health.”
The context is in reference to Brown County Code 38.01 in the Brown County Ordinances, in Chapter 38, relating to Public Health Nuisance (section (b) Human Health Hazard). “Human Health Hazard” means a substance, activity or condition that is known to have the potential to cause acute or chronic illness or death if exposure to the substance, activity or condition is not abated.
The vote to declare it a Human Health Hazard now puts Duke Energy’s Shirley Wind Development on the defensive to prove to the Board they are not the cause of the health complaints documented in the study, and could result in a shut down order.
Read the Brown County Ordinances
Read more at Waubra Foundation
The last couple of days have been very windy in Chatham-Kent. Here is a sample of what people are reporting from four different wind projects in Chatham-Kent:
Living close to wind farms may lead to severe hearing damage or even deafness, according to new research which warns of the possible danger posed by low frequency noise. The physical composition of inner ear was “drastically” altered following exposure to low frequency noise, like that emitted by wind turbines, a study has found. The research will delight critics of wind farms, who have long complained of their detrimental effects on the health of those who live nearby.
Published today by the Royal Society in their new journal Open Science, the research was carried out by a team of scientists from the University of Munich. It relies on a study of 21 healthy men and women aged between 18 and 28 years. After being exposed to low frequency sound, scientists detected changes in the type of sound being emitted from the inner ear of 17 out of the 21 participants. The changes were detected in a part of the ear called the cochlear, a spiral shaped cavity which essential for hearing and balance.
“We explored a very curious phenomenon of the human ear: the faint sounds which a healthy human ear constantly emits,” said Dr Marcus Drexl, one of the authors of the report. “These are like a very faint constant whistling that comes out of your ear as a by-product of the hearing process. We used these as an indication of how processes in the inner ear change.” Dr Drexl and his team measured these naturally emitted sounds before and after exposure to 90 seconds of low frequency sound.
“Usually the sound emitted from the ear stays at the same frequency,” he said. “But the interesting thing was that after exposure, these sounds changed very drastically. “They started to oscillate slowly over a couple of minutes. This can be interpreted as a change of the mechanisms in the inner ear, produced by the low frequency sounds. “This could be a first indication that damage might be done to the inner ear.
“We don’t know what happens if you are exposed for longer periods of time, [for example] if you live next to a wind turbine and listen to these sounds for months of years.” Read article
Kristy Hansen, Branko Zajamsek and Colin Hansen, School of Mechanical Engineering
University of Adelaide May 26, 2014 Waubra Foundation
This report by the above authors describes the results of their concurrent full spectrum acoustic monitoring conducted at a number of homes located between 2 km out to nearly 10km from the Waterloo Wind Development. This monitoring was independent of the South Australian Environment Protection Authority (SA EPA) and was requested by Mrs Mary Morris and other concerned residents in the Waterloo district. The monitoring occurred during the period of the South Australian EPA Acoustic Survey, conducted in mid 2013.
The results in this independent survey as well as the conclusions are in marked contrast to the results and conclusions of the SA EPA Acoustic Survey report, and reinforce the Waubra Foundation’s opinion expressed at the time the initial SA EPA report was released that there were serious problems with the methodology used by the SA EPA in its acoustic survey at Waterloo. This report provides further evidence that the current SA EPA Wind Farm Noise Guidelines do not protect the health and sleep of the neighbours to these wind developments, out to nearly 10km from the closest wind turbine, because they do not regulate the acoustic emissions to protect health, and most importantly, the sleep of the neighbours.
Emeritus Professor Colin Hansen has advised that he sent the report to the EPA, requesting their comment. To date, three months later (19th August, 2014) no comment or feedback has been received by the Adelaide University researchers from the SA EPA responsible public officials.
Extract from the Conclusions:
“Therefore, the results show that there is a low frequency noise problem associated with the Waterloo wind farm. Therefore, it is extremely important that further investigation is carried out at this wind farm in order to determine the source of the low frequency noise and to develop mitigation technologies. In addition, further research is necessary to establish the long‐term effects of low frequency noise and infrasound on the residents at Waterloo. This research should include health monitoring and sleep studies with simultaneous noise and vibration measurements.” Read article
By Elliot Ferguson, Kingston Whig-Standard
Opponents of a wind energy development on Amherst Island are appealing two recent decisions about industrial developments near the island. In late August the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change rejected a pair of requests from the Association to Protect Amherst Island. The association had asked for a full environmental assessment of the TransCanada Napanee Generating Station.
TransCanada is in the early stages of developing a 900-megawatt natural gas-fuelled electricity generating station on the site of the Lennox Generating Station. The group had also asked for an assessment of the cumulative impact of four planned or existing industrial projects near the island, including the existing Lennox generating station, the proposed TransCanada project, a planned upgrade of the Lafarge cement plant and the proposed Windlectric wind energy development on the island.
Instead, the MOE accepted a TransCanada study that showed noise from the new generating station would be acceptable. APAI is appealing both decisions to Environment Minister Glen Murray. John Harrison, a Queen’s University professor emeritus in physics and a member of APAI, said the TransCanada study did not account for fact that the sound would travel across water. “In my view they pulled numbers out of the air to come up with a noise assessment for the north shore of the the island that just so happens to satisfy the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change guidelines on noise,” Harrison said. Read article
Arline Bronzaft, PhD, speaking to Vermont Public Service Board’s third sound standard investigation workshop, Montpelier, Vermont, July 29, 2014.
by Sandy Casselmanhttp, Winchester Press
BRINSTON – It has been more than six months since the blades of the South Branch Wind Farm turbines began to spin, leaving more than one nearby resident with some sleepless nights. “I call when it gets to the point I can’t tolerate it anymore and I go to the basement [to sleep],” Brinston resident Leslie Disheau, former president of the South Branch Wind Opposition Group, said. “It is an issue and
I’m not the only person in town with the issue.”
Disheau, who is running for the Municipality of South Dundas’ deputy-mayor seat in this fall’s municipal election, has been staying close to home since the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) installed noise-monitoring equipment at her Brinston Road property last week. “MOE contacted me and asked if they could put this noise monitoring equipment up,” Disheau said.
The two pieces of equipment measure wind speed and direction, barometric pressure, rainfall, and more, she said. She has submitted three separate noise complaints so far. Every complaint must be filed with EDP Renewables’ project leader Ken Little and local MOE representative Terry Forrester to be officially registered. Read article
By Don Crosby, The Sun Times
DURHAM – West Grey is joining a growing number of municipalities across Ontario that are exploring ways of creating quiet nights for people living near industrial wind turbines. Council voted last Monday to throw its support behind a coalition of municipalities seeking a nuisance noise bylaw for wind turbines.
Mayor Kevin Eccles said council decided to support the coalition following a presentation at a recent committee of the whole meeting by North Perth Coun. Warren Howard, who is touring Ontario seeking support for a common bylaw. Howard told West Grey councillors that a recent American study claims to show the impact of wind turbines on personal health. Read article
A coalition of municipalities looking to silence wind turbines at night has a new member. Saugeen Shores council has conditionally agreed to join the coalition, which is crafting a “quiet nights” nuisance noise bylaw targeting wind turbines, seeking to restrict the operation of turbines during evening and overnight hours.
Councillor Taun Frosst says municipalities are powerless to stop wind farms from operating within their boundaries, but he’s hoping this will be a tool for local governments to provide some peace and quiet for those living near wind turbines. Council has conditionally agreed to provide $15,000 to go towards the cost of defending the bylaw in court, which has been estimated at a total cost of about $300,000. Saugeen Shores is the third Bruce County municipality to join the coalition, which also includes Kincardine and Huron-Kinloss. Read article
Blackburn News, By Shelley Miller-Cameron
Noise nuisance regulations for wind turbines should be strengthened, according to a North Perth Councillor. Warren Howard made the comment after his Council supported “in principle” efforts to establish a so-called “Quiet Nights” by-law.
Howard is a member of a multi-municipal coalition that is investigating the matter. Howard states, “I think the lawyers have come up with a way that is legal for us to add to the regulations and it’s defensible in the courts.” Howard admits there is not much that can be done about wind turbine noise during the day because “we can’t ban them entirely”. He cautions the proposed establishment of a “Quiet Nights” by-law will not go much further until it has support from Councils across the Province.
North Perth is keenly watching the process due to a proposed local wind turbine project.
By Monte Sonnenberg, Simcoe Reformer
NORFOLK – A movement is afoot that could ultimately force wind turbine companies to shut down some units after dark. North Perth Coun. Warren Howard is touring Ontario building support for a common bylaw that would silence turbines after dark if they produce noise that is audible to residents nearby.
“The legal advice we have is we can enforce a `quiet night’ provision,” Howard told Norfolk council Tuesday. “Yes, we’ll be challenged. But the legal advice we have is we can win.” The Liberals’ Green Energy Act stripped municipalities of planning authority in the area of renewable energy projects several years ago.
In a recent ruling, a court said that Wainfleet Township had over-stepped its authority by trying to establish a large setback for wind turbines. However, the judge also said municipalities have the right to pass bylaws on nuisance issues that affect residents’ quality of life. The Ministry of the Environment’s allowable noise range in rural areas is 51 decibels. Howard and his allies believe this is too high. Ambient noise in rural areas after dark is in the range of 20 to 25 decibels. The proposed bylaw would cap allowable noise from wind turbines at 30 decibels. Read article
Wellington Times, Rick Conroy
It’s a simple plan. But it may be just the thing to slow down the epidemic of industrial wind turbines spreading across rural Ontario. Warren Howard is a councillor in the municipality of North Perth and lives in Listowel. He is a retired banker and understands bureaucratic processes better than most. He thinks he has come up with a way to thwart the provinces heavy handed Green Energy Act (GEA).
Howard’s plan is to create a bulletproof municipal bylaw that prohibits industrial noise in a rural area at night. That’s it. It sounds simple—and it is—but Howard has done his homework.
He has been working with municipal lawyer Kristi Ross. Together they have discovered that while the Green Energy Act took away virtually all the municipality’s tools to manage, control and oversee the construction of these massive structures in its community—it left intact provisions municipalities use to govern nuisance noise. Read article
Kincardine council has gone from no support to full support for the formation of a multi-municipality coalition to draft a nuisance noise bylaw to regulate industrial wind turbine developments. Jan. 9, after a presentation by Warren Howard of North Perth, outlining the formation of such a coalition, council made no decision and no commitment to the proposal.
At the Jan. 15 meeting, council agreed to defer a motion by councillor Kenneth Craig directing staff to contact legal counsel to advise Kincardine on matters concerning a multi-municipality nuisance noise bylaw. Wednesday night (Jan. 22), council passed two motions, offering strong support for the coalition and the proposed generic noise nuisance bylaw. The first motion was Craig’s from the Jan. 15 meeting.
Deputy mayor Anne Eadie said she is unsure what Kincardine would have to send to legal counsel right now, other than a proposal in general terms. Councillor Randy Roppel said that before the coalition were to proceed, it would likely come up with a firm capable of representing all municipalities in the coalition. However, he agreed that a report would have to come back to council before approving anything. Read article
By Liz Dadson Saugeen Times
Acousticians made some more noise about sound in the final week of the Environmental Review Tribunal into the appeal against the Armow Wind development in Kincardine. Friday afternoon (Jan. 10), Robert O’Neal, an expert acoustician and witness for the approval holder, Samsung Pattern Armow Wind Ontario GP, gave testimony about wind turbine noise.
He said there are two sources of sound in the wind turbines: the mechanical sound from the nacelle; and the aerodynamic noise from the blades. The older design, called “downwind,” has been replaced by a newer design, called “upwind.” With the old design, air moves around the tower, said O’Neal. That has been eliminated with the new design.
He described low-frequency noise and infrasound, stating that the human ear can hear noise from 20-20,000 Hertz (Hz). Low-frequency is found at 20-200 Hz, and below 20 Hz is infrasound. O’Neal said that, at 10 Hz, infrasound would have to be at 97 decibels (dBA) to be audible, but at 100 Hz, low-frequency noise could be heard at 27 dBA. Read article
The final days of testimony became a bit “noisy” at the Environmental Review Tribunal into an appeal against the Armow Wind development in Kincardine. The evidence Tuesday (Jan. 14) at the hearing, held in Toronto, saw noise experts for the approval holder refute noise experts for the appellants.
Speaking as an expert witness for the approval holder, Samsung Pattern Armow Wind Ontario GP, was Shant Dokouzian, project manager, GL Garrad Hassan, Canada. A professional engineer, Dokouzian is licensed in Quebec and Ontario, and has extensive experience in wind developments. He explained that he worked on the Armow Wind development, completing the Noise Impact Assessment, as required under the 2008 Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE) guidelines.
Using the information provided by Siemens, he reproduced the sound levels, incorporated low and high frequencies, determined the receptors and noise sources, and adjusted for summer and winter wind shear. That resulted in the maximum sound power level of the turbines, he said. Dokouzian also considered the nearby wind farms – Underwood, Cruickshank and Ripley – which were reassessed under Renewable Energy Approval (REA) guidelines. Read article
Kincardine council has left a proposed municipal coalition on noise regulation, twisting in the wind. Warren Howard made a presentation to committee- of-the-whole Thursday night (Jan. 9), outlining the possibility of forming a coalition of municipalities, to draw up a noise bylaw to regulate the industrial wind turbine industry.
A member of North Perth council, Howard said he came to Kincardine council on behalf of the coalition committee. “Kincardine has a noise problem, and it’s going to get more serious if the Armow Wind project is approved,” he said. “Municipal noise bylaws need to be updated to reflect changes in the rural noise environment.”
He said the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE) allows audible noise of 40-51 dBA (decibels) for wind projects. However, the ambient rural night-time noise is in the range of 20-25 dBA. Howard said a community group in the Kincardine area, HALT (Huron-Kinloss Against Lakeshore Turbines),has funded research into legal options for municipalities to regulate noise. Read article
Heather Pollard, district supervisor of the Owen Sound office of the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE), gave testimony at the Environmental Review Tribunal Thursday afternoon in Kincardine. Appearing by way of a summons, Pollard said she has been the supervisor of the Owen Sound office since 2004, and was a junior environmental officer and senior environmental officer prior to that.
She said there are currently seven wind projects in the Owen Sound district, and all were constructed prior to the Green Energy Act and the Renewable Energy Approvals (REA) process. Pollard said her office has received complaints about six of the seven wind projects, mostly related to wind turbine noise and health effects.
“People have indicated they are having sleep disturbance, headaches, nausea, vertigo, tinnitus – symptoms they attribute to the wind farm,” she said. “We can follow up on the noise complaints but we have no expertise with health effects.” Asha James, counsel for the appellants, Ken and Sharon Kroeplin, asked Pollard if any complaints came from post-turbine residents suffering from health effects at the Enbridge Ontario Wind Farm.
“Yes,” said Pollard.
“Do you know the number?” asked James.
“350 complaints,” said Pollard. Read article
by Steve Ambrose and Rob Rand, Wind Wise Massachusetts
The public response to wind turbines operating in a number of Massachusetts coastal communities have been greeted with a mixed response. A series of one-page articles have been written based on the acoustic investigations and research by Robert Rand and Stephen Ambrose. They are career-long friends and colleagues dating back to 1981 when they both worked as noise control engineers for Stone & Webster Engineering Corporation in Boston, Massachusetts. Currently, they are independent acousticians working in Maine.
There should be no wind turbine complaints about noise with today’s knowledge and instrument capabilities. They have never investigated a noise problem where the public has been so vocal about ruined lives and home abandonment. Why are neighbors complaining about wind turbines? Why are regulatory officials unable to protect public health and well-being. The following is written to help answer these two-questions. (Click to view a PDF version of the four one-page articles).
Wind Turbine Noise Complaint Predictions Made Easy – Part 1
Acousticians have known for decades how to predict the community reaction to a new noise source. Wind turbine consultants have chosen not to predict the community reaction as they have previously done for other community noise sources. If they had, there would be far fewer wind turbine sites with neighbors complaining loudly about excessive noise and adverse health impacts.
In 1974, the USEPA published a methodology that can predict the community reaction to a new noise. A simple chart can be used that shows the community reactions (y-axis) versus noise level (x-axis). This chart was developed from 55 community noise case studies (black squares). The baseline noise levels include adjustments for the existing ambient, prior noise experience, and sound character. The predicted wind turbine noise level is plotted on the ‘x-axis’ and the predicted community reaction is determined by the highest reaction, indicated by the black squares. Here are some examples: 32 dBA no reaction and sporadic complaints, 37 dBA widespread complaints, 45 dBA strong appeals to stop noise and 54 dBA vigorous community action, the highest. Read article
Barnstable Superior Court Judge Christopher J. Muse has ordered the town to operate its wind turbines at the Wastewater Treatment Facility for 12 hours per day except on Sundays starting today.
The preliminary injunction was filed late last night and requires the town to turn off the machines from 7 PM to 7 AM daily. Additionally, Judge Muse’s decision calls on the turbines to be turned off on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.
The move follows what was a supposed agreement reached two weeks ago in Barnstable Superior Court between Falmouth’s attorneys and lawyers representing neighbors living near the turbines. That agreement—to reduce the operating hours of the turbines from 16 hours per day to 12 hours per day as a temporary move toward a more comprehensive settlement—was tied to the town’s appeal of the Falmouth Zoning Board of Appeals decision in May upholding Neil P. and Elizabeth Andersen’s claim that the wind turbines constitute a nuisance. The Andersens live near the turbines on Blacksmith Shop Road and have been outspoken in their criticism of the machines and impacts they have had on their lives shortly after the first, Wind 1, became operational in March 2010. Read article
by Bob Lewis
Friday – a short day at the Adelaide ERT. Mr. Zangeneh (spelling? – hereafter referred to as Z) is a noise engineer. Since many of us believe noise is at the root of the health problems this is important. OTOH, while Harvey has obviously spent a great deal of time building his understanding of noise and its effects, I have not and was not able to follow a lot of the testimony so the following might be more disjointed than usual. My editorial comment is interspersed randomly.
He has reviewed 130 applications – 30 for Ontario wind farms. There are different sound level limitations for rural and urban. The 40 dbA rural limit is cumulative if there are more than 1 project, but only cumulative wind and wind or solar and solar. (How much noise does a solar project make? I have no idea, but the government will do anything to accomplish their goals.) Continue reading
New York Times
Slamming doors, banging walls, bellowing strangers and whistling neighbors were the bane of the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer’s existence. But it was only in later middle age, after he had moved with his beloved poodle to the commercial hub of Frankfurt, that his sense of being tortured by loud, often superfluous blasts of sound ripened into a philosophical diatribe. Then, around 1850, Schopenhauer pronounced noise to be the supreme archenemy of any serious thinker.
His argument against noise was simple: A great mind can have great thoughts only if all its powers of concentration are brought to bear on one subject, in the same way that a concave mirror focuses light on one point. Just as a mighty army becomes useless if its soldiers are scattered helter-skelter, a great mind becomes ordinary the moment its energies are dispersed.
And nothing disrupts thought the way noise does, Schopenhauer declared, adding that even people who are not philosophers lose whatever ideas their brains can carry in consequence of brutish jolts of sound.
From the vantage point of our own auditory world, with its jets, jackhammers, HVAC systems, truck traffic, cellphones, horns, decibel-bloated restaurants and gyms on acoustical steroids, Schopenhauer’s mid-19th century complaints sound almost quaint. His biggest gripe of all was the “infernal cracking” of coachmen’s whips. (If you think a snapping line of rawhide’s a problem, buddy, try the Rumbler Siren.) But if noise did shatter thought in the past, has more noise in more places further diffused our cognitive activity? Read article
Graham Lloyd, The Australian
Modern wind turbines could cause the same health impacts for nearby residents as an older prototype rejected by the industry because of proven concerns, says the author of a 1987 study that established the link. Neil Kelley, who presented the findings of a comprehensive study prepared for the US Department of Energy to the renewable energy industry 25 years ago, said in-home testing of low-frequency noise from wind turbines was the only way to establish the truth.
The wind industry in Australia has rejected the findings of the 1987 NASA study because the type of wind turbine studied was no longer in use. The study used laboratory simulations to prove a link between low-frequency noise from the older-model wind turbines and health impacts. It found the impact of low-frequency noise generated by wind turbines was often “confined to within surrounding homes” and that residents became more sensitive to the impact over time.
The National Health and Medical Research Council is conducting a review of its guidelines on whether wind turbines can cause health concerns. Leading public health officials have said publicly that reports of ill health are the result of a “nocebo effect“, with symptoms caused by apprehension about possible dangers. Mr Kelley, who served as the principal scientist (atmospheric physics) at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s National Wind Technology Center in the US from 1980 to 2011, said research had shown it was possible for modern wind turbines to create “community annoyance”. Read article
North Perth may not be able to prohibit wind turbines but every effort will be made to regulate them. Council has decided to further investigate a potential noise bylaw.
Staff have also been directed to continue discussions with other municipalities interested in working collaboratively on the issue. Councillor Warren Howard says a recent court decision shows there is “legal basis” to move forward but cautions the document must be developed “absolutely correctly”.
Howard stresses the importance of ensuring it can withstand challenges. A 26 wind turbine project involving properties in North Perth and neighbouring Perth East is being proposed. Public concerns about the potential impacts continue to be expressed.
Calvin Martin, Wind Turbine Syndrome
October 1987. The Windpower ’87 Conference & Exposition in San Francisco. A paper read by a physicist named N.D. Kelley from the Solar Energy Research Institute in Golden, Colorado. A research project funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Contract No. DE-AC02-83CH10093.
Dr. Kelley titled his paper “A Proposed Metric for Assessing the Potential of Community Annoyance from Wind Turbine Low-Frequency Noise Emissions.” “Emissions” means “noise & vibration.” And the “low frequency” includes infrasound. And the sterile phrase, “community annoyance,” is code for Wind Turbine Syndrome–except, Dr. Pierpont had not coined the name in 1987.
Here’s Kelley’s paper. Rick James, America’s premier expert in measuring and assessing wind turbine noise/vibration, sent the paper to Dr. Sarah Laurie in Australia. Dr. Laurie forwarded it to us. Read article
Bluewater Council will send representative George Irvin to the Multi-Municipal Working Group Wind Summit in Ripley on Friday, June 21st. Irvin will observe and report, but he hopes his peers will take things one step further. The Stanley West representative thinks Bluewater should consider joining up with the group.
The municipal wind turbine group holds regular meetings in Chesley where topics relating to the wind industry are discussed. This time the Huron-Kinloss community is hosting the gathering, and the topic specifically is noise. Irvin says Bluewater has dealt with by-laws addressing health, road access and setbacks, but it has nothing on noise. He says the group is raising issues that the public needs to be talking about. Within the County, Huron East is already a member, but sends a citizen delegate on the municipality’s behalf.