Annoyance not a “disease” power developer witness tells Tribunal
REPORT ON AMHERST ISLAND APPEAL OF WINDLECTRIC PPOWER PROJECT
Location: St John’s Hall, Village of Bath
Tribunal: Mr. Robert Wright & Mr. Justin Duncan
Appellant: Eric Gillespie, Graham Andrews, EKG, LLP
Approval Holder : John Terry, Torys, LLP
MOECC: Andrea Huckins
The parties agreed on the schedule for the day. Mr. Welbanks would be heard first and then the Panel would hear the evidence from Dr. Mundt ’s response to Dr. Phillips’ Witness Statement.
The Tribunal gave a partial ruling on the December 8 motion by the Approval Holder to exclude the reply witness statements of Les Stanfield, Daryl Cowell, Kari Gunson, Roy Nagle, Shawn Smallwood, Carl Phillips and much of the reply witness statements of Christina Davy.
The Tribunal allowed Dr. Phillips, APAI’s witness, to reply to both Dr. McCunney and Dr. Mundt ’s responses to his Witness Statement. As the Panel is still conferring on the rest of the Motion, the full ruling and the reasons will be given later.
Citizens of Amherst Island for Renewable Energy
Mr. Eric Welbanks was granted presenter status on behalf of Citizens of Amherst Island for Renewable Energy (“CAIRE”). He read from his Witness Statement.
After introducing himself, Mr. Welbanks talked about the organization of which he is the President and spokesperson. He explained that for the last 8 years, its mission has been to be ‘’the perpetual and sole voice for the proponents. Mr. Welbanks told the Tribunal that CAIRE, an unincorporated organization, was made up of approximately 120 people who support the wind project and that virtually all of them lived on Amherst Island. He added that all of the landowners who will have turbines on their properties are members of the group,
He gave a brief perspective of the evolution of Amherst Island’s demography as well as his opinion on the agricultural and cultural development of the Island.
Mr. Welbanks described his organization’s involvement with the project and the actions they took to educate the members on the advantages and disadvantages of the project. He explained how they reassured themselves on health and the environment issues. He stated that he was satisfied with how their concerns were addressed by the Proponent. He added that they worked with the company on every aspect of any matter that related to their properties and raised issues of concern. He trusted that the proponent spent a significant amount of money to respond to their concerns. He said that one member of his group had been actively supporting and promoting the protection of the habitat in the Owl Woods and that some members were participants in the program to replace bird habitat. He concluded that his group had entire confidence in Algonquin Power.
The Tribunal asked questions about the financial compensation of its members and also asked clarification about the composition of the group and the different status of 120 members of the non-incorporated group. Mr. Wellbanks confirmed that they were receiving remuneration for turbines and that members of his group were direct or indirect family members and that there were all non-solicited and volunteer members. He added that all the members of the community would benefit significantly because of Windlectric’s generous contribution to the Benefit Agreement Fund. When the Panel asked his opinion on what the 120 members significance in terms of support for the project, Mr. Welbanks extrapolated on some provincial statistics to answer that according to him it would be 80% of support for the project.
Mr. Welbanks responded to a question form APAI’s lawyer by admitting that the community was divided on the issue but overall islanders were all friends. When asked if he agreed that there were better location than others for siting of the turbines, he defended the stating that the size of the project was greatly reduced.
Dr. Kenneth Mundt
Dr. Mundt who was qualified as an epidemiologist, listed his current and past employment. The Approval Holder’s lawyer walked him through some parts of his Witness Statement and asked him to elaborate on specific area.
After defining epidemiology, he talked about epidemiological study approaches versus other approaches. He described the many variations of both cohort and case-control studies with different strengths and weaknesses. He then discussed the differences between the case reports and case series and the use of self-reported accounts of symptoms or disease experience.
He was then asked to explain the determinants of the quality of epidemiological studies. He stated that in epidemiological studies, disease in a population is preferably characterized using measures of disease incidence vs. prevalence. He then talked about bias which refers to systematic (or methodological) errors that lead to inaccurate and potentially invalid or even misleading study results. He explained the different types and bias and the effects on studies.
In a second part he referred to his role in the Review of Epidemiology literature on wind turbines. He referred to a comprehensive review and synthesis of the peer-reviewed, published epidemiological literature specifically addressing potential health impacts of noise emissions from industrial wind turbines. He gave details of a total of 29 peer-reviewed published reports.
Finally he was asked to give his opinion on Dr. Phillips’ Witness Statement.
He concluded that based on his comprehensive review and synthesis of the published peer-reviewed epidemiological literature on the impact of industrial wind turbine noise emissions on human health identified only some inconsistent statistical correlations between the presence of industrial wind turbines and self-reported “annoyance,” but not that such exposures cause any disease or that exposure to wind turbine noise causes harm to human health, let alone serious harm to human health.
He added that while the literature inconsistently associates turbine noise with “annoyance,” the medical literature does not equate annoyance with disease or “serious harm to human health”. He added that he was unable to find the term “annoyance” in any medical dictionary, and when this term was used in the medical literature it was usually to describe the opposite end (i.e., the lowest extreme) of the spectrum of complaints. Furthermore, the 10th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) – the current compendium of all classified diseases – does not include “annoyance” as a disease entity.
On his systematic review and synthesis of the published, peer-reviewed
epidemiological literature, he concluded to a reasonable degree of scientific and epidemiological certainty that it is more likely than not that the operation of the wind turbines associated with the Amherst Island Wind Project will not cause “serious harm to human health”.
In cross-examination, he admitted never have been on Amherst Island and not having done an analysis of its population and other potential factors. He also acknowledged that he was not aware of the Island demographic. He disputed that the fact that a study that he co-authored in 2014 was biased even though a study footnote indicated that the study was funded by the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA)