by Daniel Pearce, Simcoe Reformer
The company that owns the wind farm in the west end of Norfolk says it will undertake an infrasound study in the Clear Creek area to determine if its turbines generate low-level frequencies that nearby residents insist are sickening them.
“We anticipate the study will be done this summer,” David Timm, vice-president strategic affairs for International Power, told Norfolk council on Tuesday night.
The findings will be made available to the public, he added.
Scientific evidence so far shows no link between turbines and illnesses in people who live near them, Timm said.
But his company, which recently bought out the former owners PowerGen, wants to do the study anyway because of complaints from a number of people living near a cluster of turbines in the Clear Creek area, he said.
“We take noise complaints seriously and we investigate them,” Timm said.
The Ontario Ministry of Environment has studied the Norfolk farm and gave it the OK, but it also suggested the company do the infrasound testing, he said.
“We have to investigate the issue and see whether the issue exists or not,” Timm said.
Over the past year, residents who live near the turbines have insisted the vibrations do exist and are ruining their lives. They say they suffer from headaches and especially sleeplessness.
Some have moved out of their homes and were present at Tuesday night’s council meeting.
Stephana Johnston, the most well-known of the residents, addressed council again on the matter and said things have become so bad residents are simply abandoning their homes.
Of 140 homes in her area, 40 are either abandoned, vacant, or up for sale, she said.
“We feel this does need fixing,” Johnston said before asking council to write a letter to Dr. Siva Sivoththaman, a University of Waterloo professor who holds an Ontario Research Chair in Renewable Energy Technologies, calling for him to study the situation. Council agreed to her request. Johnston challenged some of Timm’s statements.
“There’s been no scientific studies on the impact of human beings surrounded by wind turbines,” said Johnston, who has resorted to sleeping in a trailer at her son’s home near Langton. “Nobody’s looking at the effects these wind turbines have on us.”
Johnston and two other residents at the meeting followed Timm outside the council room and pleaded with him to get his company to do something.
“I can’t stay there,” said Tracy Whitworth, a school teacher who moved into a temporary home on May 1 to get away from the turbines. “If I stay there, I will die.
“I can’t sell my home. What do I do? How do I survive?”
Johnston told Timm living near the turbines amounts to a form of “torture.”