The following exchange of letters demonstrates Dr. Arlene King’s deliberately ignoring and omitting first hand evidence of families experiencing real symptoms. She left them entirely out of the research process for her report currently being exploited by wind energy proponents eager to bring on more damaging turbines.
Letter #1: From Barbara Ashbee to Dr. King – January 26th, 2010
Dear Dr. King
I am writing to you today on behalf of residents throughout Ontario, who have become victims suffering adverse health effects from industrial wind turbines being placed too close to their homes.
This issue has been routinely ignored by all ministries involved in renewable energy at all levels of government. My focus is on our provincial government as it is their policy that is forcing harm to people in their own homes. Many people have been so horribly affected that they have had to abandon their homes. Our public health department is the last potential department that I can think of that should be helping us and yet there has still been no assistance. I have never in my lifetime seen anything so disturbing as the way these people are being treated. It is unconscionable.
I understand you have been busy with H1N1 and I respect the overload of work you must be wading through, but I tell you these people that are being affected by wind turbines have been suffering longer than this flu outbreak has been in our midst. They have been routinely ignored and called names by our Ministers, the developers and by the Premier himself. We need help Dr. King and we need it now! These people do not have time to wait for another literature review to be done. There is ample evidence that these people are being harmed and I am getting extremely tired of being pushed off and ignored.
We need these turbines decommissioned now and no new turbines erected until there is a proper 3rd party independant health study completed. How can anyone that is supposed to be looking out for us continue to do their job and ignore this?
These victims have been forced to abandon their homes to live with relatives, have been billeted in motels, forced to pay rent for a safe house, forced to move into trailers and tents and sleep in their cars. What more do you need to acknowledge we have an urgent problem here?
These same people have followed every protocol under very debillitating conditions by contributing to the EBR registry, attending and presenting at the standing committee hearings, attending and speaking at green energy workshops held in the province, attending and speaking at green energy act public input meetings across the province, attending and speaking at 2 Grey-Bruce Public Health open houses in Owen Sound and Walkerton in the presence of Dr. Hazel Lynn, Dr. Ray Copes and the MOE officer. They have written countless letters to the Ministers of Environment, Energy and to the Premier himself. As well as 100’s of messages and requests made to, and through their MPPs and local councils.
Nothing has happened.
I do not know what anyone expects of these people. The depth of distress these people feel by being hurt by the very systems and people that should be helping them, has created an overwhelming sense of injustice and they have lost trust in everyone.
I speak with these people almost daily and I am at a loss as to what to tell them Dr. King.
I await your response.
Barbara Ashbee, RR1 Orangeville
Letter #2: From Barbara Ashbee to Dr. David C. Williams, Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health – February 28, 2010
Dear Dr. Williams,
Thank you for your letter dated February 16th in response to my letter to Dr. King, regarding the wind turbine health issues. I appreciate your response but am disappointed when you say you are reviewing existing information. Are you speaking of another literature review? I believe there is enough compelling information that a study on people should be in order.
It is very difficult for me to be pleased with the recent appointment of the research chair from our Ontario government. As I understand it, this gentleman is an electrical engineer with experience in renewable energy technology, but with no expertise in wind turbine technology. He is not a health professional and so to hear you suggest he will “provide expert advice on potential health effects of renewable energy technologies” does not provide any degree of comfort.
Are you able to give me a better time frame of how long these residents must continue to suffer in their own homes without any government support while you are reviewing things? Why aren’t these installations being shut down while this ongoing research is being done?
This imbalance of power is overwhelming, and it is bewildering; why the lack of response from government since they received the very first complaints and why the continuing delays? Canadians expect our health ministries to be responsive to people who are experiencing adverse health effects, especially by a policy forced upon them by their government. Please keep in mind these people are powerless to shut these things off and our Ministry of Environment, who governs these projects, has not been able to monitor, control or assist in any way. The fact that Minister of Environment, John Gerretsen uses the term NIMBY to describe victims is befitting of the attitude from this government. The victims and their families have lost faith and trust, and who could blame them?
The quote below is from just one the many victims.
“I am angry, helpless, and disappointed our government would let something like this happen. I am appalled at their ignorance and lack of compassion. It saddens me to watch my family and friends suffer from the same [health] effects of the turbines. “I spend as much time as I can away from my home, away from my son who is also sleep deprived. We are exhausted and miserable. I often seek refuge with friends, often falling asleep minutes after I arrive. I feel like a gypsy.“What was once a beautiful place to live has been destroyed.”
– Tracy Whitworth, schoolteacher (Clear Creek, Ont.)
The victims need these wind installations decommissioned immediately so they can return to living in a healthy environment in their own homes while the various ministries and “experts” do their research.
If you do not agree with that, then a statement explaining your position is requested.
It is astonishing that our provincial government is proceeding with new wind installations with the knowledge of the adverse health effects associated with them. Perhaps sustainable energy resources are their mandate, but your mandate is to protect and prevent harm to our health. With all due respect, so far I have not seen any evidence of protection or prevention, or this would not continue to carry on as long as it has.
Barbara Ashbee, RR 1, Orangeville, Ontario
Letter #3: From Barbara Ashbee to Dr. King – June 2, 2010
Dear Dr. King,
This letter is to ask for clarification surrounding the apparent confusion regarding the role of the Chief Medical Officer of Health of Ontario and the Public Health Officers located in areas throughout Ontario.
The Health Protection and Promotion Act R.S.O 1990 states regarding a complaint about a health hazard related to occupational or environmental health: 11. (1) Where a complaint is made to a board of health or a medical officer of health that a health hazard related to occupational or environmental health exists in the health unit served by the board of health or the medical officer of health, the medical officer of health shall notify the ministry of the Government of Ontario that has primary responsibility in the matter and, in consultation with the ministry, the medical officer of health shall investigate the complaint to determine whether the health hazard exists or does not exist. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.7, s. 11 (1).
There are a number of victims suffering ill health resulting from the introduction of industrial wind turbines into their environment. Some asked their local Public Health Unit to help. For example, the following email requesting assistance was sent 2 months after having had an initial meeting with a contact at the public health office on January 30th, 2009:
Date Sat, Apr 4, 2009 at 3:15 PM
Earlier this year I was in to see you regarding sleep deprivation etc. regarding the noise coming from the turbines that surround our home in A…. township. You had given me a card with a name from someone in your G… office, as you were going to forward the information on to them. I have not heard from anyone……………..Please update me as to the status of our meeting.
And the response was:
Date Sat, Apr 4, 2009 at 6:20 PM
Subject RE: Wind Farm
I empathize with your concern about the neighboring wind turbines and the ineffectiveness of various agencies to legitimize your grievance. Unfortunately your request that our public health unit be able to take some action on this matter does not align with the current reality. I apologize for any false impressions I may have relayed to you about any type of regulatory capacity we may have but to do so would only give you false hope and perhaps undermine any legitimate avenue of appeal you are trying to seek through the appropriate provincial agency or court action.
Our public health unit does not have the recourse, resources or expertise to monitor the health effects of turbines and seek the type of remedy you are looking for. To circumvent or intervene with the processes already in place, however, would be foolhardy and wasteful on our part given our mandate.
I am sorry that you feel you have been undermined by these very processes but we are unequivocal in our principles to fully practice protecting the public’s health in an effective manner with the tools and guidelines we have. To stray from this course, by pursuing such avenues, would be highly problematic for effectively serving the public in accordance with our public health protocols and directives.
Take Care, C
Your short literature review “The Potential Health Impacts of Wind Turbines May 2010” states that “While some people living near wind turbines report symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, and sleep disturbance, the scientific evidence available to date does not demonstrate a direct causal link between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects.”
How do you know this to be the case, if you have not spoken to any victim and have not investigated “the complaint to determine whether the health hazard exists or does not exist” as prescribed by The Health Protection and Promotion Act R.S.O 1990.
Based on a small literature review, you have decided there is no need to investigate further. You are denying victims’ rights to have their adverse health effects related to industrial wind turbines investigated and responded to by an unbiased authority. Your statement pre-emptively ignores their rights under The Health Protection and Promotion Act R.S.O 1990 to be investigated. Please confirm that your report and your position on this issue is the official policy of the Government of Ontario. A response within 10 days is requested.
Sincerely, Barbara Ashbee
Co-ordinator of VOW (Victims of Wind)
Response from Dr. Arlene King’s Executive Assistant, June 10, 2010:
Dear Ms. Ashbee,
Thank you for your correspondence of June 2, 2010 to Dr. Arlene King, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH), regarding the role of the CMOH and local Medical Officers of Health (MOH).
Section 11 (1) of the Health Protection and Promotion Act (HPPA) does require a Medical Officer of Health (MOH) who receives a complaint about a potential health hazard to investigate and determine whether a health hazard actually exists. The determination of whether a health hazard exists is based on evidence and a determination of whether there is a direct causal linked between the action or matter at issue and adverse effects on health. However, section 11 does not apply to the CMOH.
Although there is no obligation in the HPPA for the CMOH to investigate the complaint to determine whether the health hazard exists or does not exist, Dr. King recently conducted a review of the existing science and potential health impacts of wind turbines. The findings and summary of the review were released on May 20, 2010 in the CMOH report entitled “The Potential Health Impact of Wind Turbines,” which concluded that the scientific evidence available to date does not demonstrate a direct causal link between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects.
She also notes in her review that an assessment of noise levels around wind power developments and other residential environments, including monitoring for sound level compliance, is an important prerequisite to making an informed decision on whether epidemiological studies looking at health outcomes will be useful.
Additionally, you may also be interested to know that the Ministry of the Environment is funding a Research Chair in Renewable Energy Technologies and Health to research potential health effects of renewable energy projects, including the potential health impact of wind turbines.
In response to your request to confirm that the CMOH report and Dr. King’s position on this issue is the official policy of the Government of Ontario, I would like to clarify for you that this report was published by Dr. King in her role as the CMOH for Ontario to provide advice to the government and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Ontario government.
Thank you, Jason Stanley
Executive Assistant Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health Phone: (416) 314-1622Fax: (416) firstname.lastname@example.org
Letter #4: From Barbara Ashbee to Dr. King – July 12, 2010
Dear Dr. King,
A week or so ago I attended an information meeting where a representative from CAPE was talking about the importance that people support wind power in order to shut down coal plants and that they, as an association of concerned physicians, support wind turbines properly sited.
We are all well aware of the serious health concerns that have arisen from both turbines and substations situated close to peoples homes and there is no denying this has ruined many people’s lives, enough so that they have had to abandon their homes. This is documented. The reason for my letter is that I want to bring to your attention the way your recently released report on health and wind turbines is being used.
This representative repeatedly said that you found no health issues linked to wind turbine installations and that you are the “top doctor”. People who attend this type of meeting have no idea what to believe, because along with the denial by our ministries that there are issues, they now have a report prepared by you that developers and proponents are using with fervor to claim there are no health issues. It is very difficult to believe that the top doctor would be wrong or misdirect them.
If I hadn’t had personal experience in this, I would be hesitant to believe that someone in your position would release something without having done very serious, intensive research using the most current information. One would only expect that from our top doctor, but correct me if I am wrong, you did not speak with any of the victims in Ontario to gain knowledge of their experience. Some have been having unmitigated problems for 4 years and many have had to leave their homes.
In my lifetime I would never have expected to be writing to someone in your esteemed position. I was raised to respect our politicians and government. I would never disrespect what someone with your credentials and experience would have to say, but certainly my emotions have flared in frustration in the past year and a half.
It is very sad that families in rural Ontario are being dismissed and are clearly being treated as second class citizens. The victims in the province are under terrible stress and your report is contributing greatly to the continuing harm they are experiencing. Why the human element has been removed from this renewable energy policy is most disturbing.
It is painful to listen to accounts of people in distress due to other issues that are attended to by our health department and our government, but not to those who are being affected by wind farms. I do not understand this selective process.
I would like to meet with you to discuss the health problems victims are experiencing and am requesting an appointment at your convenience.
No response to date. No indication of willingess to meet with Ms. Ashbee or any other of the Ontario families who are experiencing problems or have had to abandon their homes.