Wind Concerns convenes expert panel on Health Canada study

Following the release of the Health Canada preliminary, non-peer-reviewed summary of the results of its Wind Turbine Noise study on November 6, Wind Concerns Ontario has convened an expert review panel, and will provide comments on the study as soon as further material has been received from Health Canada, and our panel has a chance to review.

In the meantime, the fact is the goal of the study was never to produce an opinion on a causal relationship but simply to “add” to existing research on wind turbine noise and health effects. “It is important to note,” Health Canada says in its public information, “that the results from this study do not provide definitive answers and should be considered along with the other research available…”

The Wind Concerns Ontario review panel consists of several university professors, a physicist, a medical doctor, nurses including a Nurse Practitioner, and specialists in acoustics.

Medical Officer of Health: more study needed

Opinion from a doctor in the turbine zone
Opinion from a doctor in the turbine zone

Grey-Bruce Medical Officer of Health Dr Hazel Lynn commented Friday on the Health Canada turbine noise study, saying ” much more” work needs to be done, but the “preliminary” results show significant “annoyance” which, the doctor says, should properly be termed “distress.”

Wind Concerns Ontario asked Health Canada in a meeting Friday whether more research was planned and the answer is no: the raw data and the instruments used in the study will be available (for a fee) via Statistics Canada for others to do further research.

Here is the interview with Dr Lynn:

Those who move away not part of study

Rob Gowan, Owen Sound Sun-Times, November 7, 2014

Dr. Hazel Lynn says an important segment of the population has been left out of a Health Canada study into the impact of industrial wind turbines on peoples’ health.

The Health Canada study, released Thursday, found no link between wind turbine noise and negative health effects in people. But Lynn, the medical officer of health for Grey-Bruce who has done a review of such studies, said some of the best survey findings are from the people who have moved away because they simply couldn’t live near turbines.

“These folks are still living there so obviously they are not in that 10% of people who actually abandoned their homes,” Lynn said of those who participated in the study.

“Although the wind folks would pooh-pooh those people (who have moved away) as being especially difficult, I think they are especially sensitive and if you are living in a place where you are afraid to go to sleep at night then you are going to move. Obviously this study didn’t pick up any of those folks.”

The study by Health Canada of more than 1,200 households living near industrial wind turbines concluded there was no evidence to support a link between exposure to wind turbine noise and adverse ill effects including dizziness and migraines, chronic illnesses such as heart disease and high blood pressure and decreased quality of sleep.

The study did find there was a relationship between wind turbine noise and annoyance towards several features associated with turbines including noise, vibration, shadow flicker and the warning lights on top of them.

More than 400 properties approached for the study were deemed not valid dwellings. David Michaud, a research scientist at Health Canada and principal investigator in the study, said they were deemed not valid for various reasons.

“(Statistics Canada) would visit an address and find out in some cases it could have been a church or could have been an industry, it could have been a vacant home and it could have been a home that is being constructed, so those are considered to be out-of-scope homes because they are not valid addresses for the purpose of this study,” said Michaud.

“If somebody has potentially left their homes because of wind turbines, we would have no way of knowing that in a study like this.”

Health Canada partnered with Statistics Canada for the study, which was launched in 2012 and cost $2.1 million. It included three parts – a questionnaire done by participants; a collection of physical health measures that assessed stress levels using hair cortisol, blood pressure, resting heart rate and measures of sleep quality; and more than 4,000 hours of wind turbine noise measurements conducted by Health Canada.

All potential homes within approximately 600 metres of a wind turbine in 12 study areas in southwestern Ontario and six in Prince Edward Island were selected to participate, as were a random selection of homes between 600 metres and 10 kilometres.

One person between the age of 18 and 79 years of age from each household was randomly selected to participate.

Lynn called the study results preliminary and questioned many of the conclusions.

“I would like to see the study design, I would like to see what kind of actual statistical significance their study population would have,” said Lynn.

“There is lots of stuff I need to know before I can say this is a well-done study and we can be confident in what it says as a conclusion.”

Lynn said the Health Canada study will not be the last on the subject and that it will take much more work before the true impact of wind turbines on peoples’ health will be known.

“It is going to take years and years as it did with any environmental exposures and illness to actually prove it or not prove it,” Lynn said. “You don’t know until the studies are done properly and you can get enough of them.”

In 2013, Lynn and epidemiological researcher Dr. Ian Arra released a review of studies from around the world on wind turbines and people’s health. They found “reasonable evidence that an association exists between wind turbines and distress in humans.”

Lynn said the measurement used in her review was distance from wind turbines, not noise level, which was used in the Health Canada study, although some of the studies she and Arra looked at made conclusions based on noise levels.

Lynn said the Health Canada study defined annoyance as very or extremely annoyed, which she said is not a definition. In her review they used the term “distress.”

One area Lynn had expressed particular interest in was infrasound exposure, adding she would like to see more work on the effects of the very low frequency sound emitted by turbines.

The Health Canada study found infrasound from the turbines could sometimes be measured up to 10 kilometres away, but was in many cases “below background infrasound levels.”

“The levels of infrasound measured near the base of the turbine were around the threshold of audibility that has been reported for about 1% of people that have the most sensitive hearing,” according to the study findings.

Health Canada intends to further analyze the infrasound data and release results throughout 2015.

“We are still looking at the data set and doing some more analysis with respect to the acoustic information that was collected,” said Michaud. “Our ongoing work wouldn’t change what we posted (Thursday).”

 

Brown County WI: Shirley wind farm is a health hazard

nbc26

Health Board Says the Shirley Wind Project is a Health Hazard

By Eric Crest. CREATED Oct 17, 2014

GLENMORE, WIS- This week the Brown County Health Board went on record declaring that wind turbines “are a human health hazard.”

Folks living in the Glenmore area near the Shirley Wind Project have been saying this for years though, and now they have the health department on their side. By state statute wind turbines can be within 1250 feet of a home. The Brown County Board of Health says that’s too close for comfort. But Duke Energy, the company that owns the Shirley Wind farm disagrees.

Glenmore farmers won’t touch this topic with a ten foot pole. But Audrey Murphy the Chairman of the Brown County Board of Health says it’s her duty. “We didn’t take this lightly this was a serious thing and we all struggled with it,” says Murphy.

Potential lawsuits and good neighbor agreements signed with Duke Energy is keeping most people silent around the wind farm. So Brown County is doing the talking for them. “It’s not so much that we’re trying to get information out there we’re trying to help those citizens because they’re impacted by wind turbines,” says Murphy.

After several local and national studies the health board made one of the first decisions of its kind in the country. They have declared that the Shirley Wind Project is a human health hazard. “Ear pain, ear pressure, headaches, nausea, many are suffering from sleep deprivation,” adds Murphy. Today Duke Energy released this statement saying: “A third party scientific test has already determined… That they could not document any link between turbine noise and adverse health impacts.”

The Brown County Health Board alleges however that these turbines are emitting acoustical energy too close to homes. They are waiting for the next step when the Director of the Health Department makes an appointment with the corporate council to decide how to proceed from here.

Read the full story and watch the video from NBC news here.

Read the noise study at the Shirley wind project here.

UK journal: wind farm infrasound may cause hearing damage

The Royal Society

“physical composition of inner ear drastically altered…”

The Telegraph

October 1, 2014

Camilla Turner

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.”

Wind turbines emit a spectrum of frequencies of noise, which include the low frequency that was used in the research, Dr Drexl explained.

He said the study “might help to explain some of the symptoms that people who live near wind turbines report, such as sleep disturbance, hearing problems and high blood pressure”.

Dr Drexl explained how the low frequency noise is not perceived as being “intense or disturbing” simply because most of the time humans cannot hear it.

“The lower the frequency the you less you can hear it, and if it is very low you can’t hear it at all.

“People think if you can’t hear it then it is not a problem. But it is entering your inner ear even though it is not entering your consciousness.”

Read the full news story here.

Stay of wind farm construction hearing in London: people vs profits

Supporters gather at the London Court House yesterday
Supporters gather at the London Court House yesterday

The legal proceeding held September 22 in London, Ontario to hear arguments for and against a stay of construction for the K2 Wind and St. Columban wind projects ended in late afternoon.

According to documents filed earlier this month, the “Appellants seek a stay of theconstruction of the St. Columban Energy LP WindProject and the K2 Wind Project, pursuant to Rule 63.02 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, s. 106 of the Courts of Justice Act 2 and s. 24(1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms 3 restraining the Respondents St. Columban Energy LP (“St. Columban”), and K2 Wind Ontario Inc., K2 Wind Ontario Limited Partnership (“K2 Wind”) from all construction-related activities until the resolution of the appeals.”

The courtroom was packed with supporters and media.

Lawyer for the Drennan and Dixon families, human rights specialist Julian Falconer, laid out the arguments for the stay of construction, concluding that this was a situation of people vs. profits, where the big money interests of the wind developers had taken precedence over assurances that people’s health and other rights would not be affected.

The hearing adjourned at approximately 5 p.m.; the judge promised she would do her best to render a decision on the matter quickly.

The appeal hearings begin in November.

For more information on the legal action, and for a link to donate toward covering legal fees, please go to the website for Safe Wind Energy for Everyone (SWEAR).

Farmers Forum on Wind farms: farmers were lied to

Not as advertised
Not as advertised

Wind turbine woes

September 2014, Farmers Forum

Farmers Forum surveyed a big chunk of Wolfe Island residents and found that 75 per cent approve of or are indifferent toward the 86 wind turbines they’ve been living with for five years.

There are only two wind turbine projects in Eastern Ontario–one in Wolfe Island and one near Brinston, south of Ottawa. But Wolfe Island, surrounded by the St. Lawrence River at one end and Lake Ontario at the other, is a captive crowd. We easily surveyed 200 of the 1,400 residents lining up for the Kingston ferry or working in the hamlet of Marysville.

With such a high proportion of residents surveyed–one in seven–we captured a fairly good picture of how people feel about those gigantic white gosal posts with their three imposing blades. Of course, having a visual of a turbine makes a huge difference. On many properties on the 29-kilometer long island, you can’t even see the turbines.* From other vantage points, you can see more than 10.

We found that money makes a difference. Those landowners (many of them farmers) hosting one or more turbines, are delighted with the $10,000 to $14,000 they earn each year per turbine just to look at them. The wind turbine company hands over another $100,000 to the island annually. Improvements to the local outdoor rink are one of the many benefits. It’s like getting paid twice for having the good luck of living at the right place on the right island at the right time.

Not surprisingly, wind power companies in other areas of the province are now offering “hush” money to Ontarians living near a proposed wind turbine project. As I’ve said before, if a company wants to pay me $14,000 a year to put a wind turbine on my property, I’d move the garage in order to accommodate them. Change their mind and offer the turbine to my neighbour and suddenly that turbine doesn’t look so good. It’s kind of an eyesore and doesn’t it affect bird migration? Could this be the health issues that we hear about or am I just sick at the thought that I just lost $280,000 of free money over 20 years? I think I know the answer. But when you offer to cut me in on the monetary benefits of my neighbour’s turbine, I’m suddenly all sunshine and happy thoughts.

This is not to say there aren’t honest-to-goodness health risks. Farmers Forum has no reason to disbelieve those survey respondents who complain of low-level noise when the wind changes direction.

We’re losing $24,000 an hour on wind

This brings me to my only real beef against wind power. As happy as I thought I would be to have a turbine, I don’t want  one.

They are the biggest money losers in the history of the province. Not for Wolfe Islanders or anyone else who gets a wind turbine contract. But for everyone else forced to pay an electricity bill. Electricity costs have already risen 12.5 per cent each year for the past five years. There are more than 1,000 operating wind turbines and another more than 4,000 to go up in the province. Ontario’s auditor general says we can expect another 40 per cent price hike over the next few years in our electricity bills. By 2018, every Ontario family will be paying an extra $636 per year to go green. And why? So the province can claim to be the first green province or state in North America? Big deal.

Wind turbines are incredibly inefficient. In a major report last year, the Fraser Institute noted that 80 per cent of the power generated by wind turbines occur when Ontario doesn’t need the power. So, while the province pays 13.5 cents per kilowatt hour, it often resells is for 2.5 cents south of the border. The report, Environmental and Economic Consequences of Ontario’s Green Energy Act, observed that data from the Independent Electricity System Operator show Ontario loses, on average, $24,000 per operating hour on wind power sales. Numerous companies, including Kelloggs and Heinz, have closed plants because Ontario companies pay more for power than any other jurisdiction in North America.

Not “green”

To make matters worse, a wind turbine can contain more than 200 tonnes of steel and Chinese factories need the mining of even more tonnes of coal and iron to make them. Writes David Hughes in his book Carbon Shift, “A windmill could spin until it falls apart and never generate as much energy as was invested in building it.”

So, you can’t even call wind turbines green energy. It’s appalling that farmers have been lied to about the benefits. We’re wasting billions on a phoney cause.

Patrick Meagher is editor of Farmers Forum and can be reached at editor@farmersforum.com

WCO editor’s note: Although Farmers Forum was clear on the limitations of their survey they missed several key points: one, by surveying only people at the ferry dock and in a coffee shop, they may have missed people who stay on the island all day, but more important, as the Island has turbines on one half and none on the other, it would have been absolutely critical to define where the survey respondents actually live. They didn’t. Another key factor in any survey of community residents living with turbines is the fact that many turbine contracts force landowners to sign a non-disclosure agreement—in other words, if they have anything negative to say about the turbines, they can’t talk.

Ontario seeking bids on offshore wind farm noise study

Toronto Harbour next?
Toronto Harbour next?

Just prior to the 2011 Ontario election, the Dalton McGuinty government announced a “moratorium” on offshore wind development. It was widely thought this move was to stave off any criticism (and lost votes) from Toronto, the Ontario Liberal stronghold, as there was significant opposition to a project proposed off the Scarborough area, where lake views are prized.

Now, it’s 2014, and the Liberals have a majority and four years ahead in power.

Last Friday, a request for proposal for a noise impact study for offshore wind “farms” was posted on MERX here.

Details here:

Technical Evaluation to Predict Offshore Wind Farm Noise Impacts in Ontario

Detailed Description
This Request for Proposals is an invitation to prospective proponents to submit proposals for the Technical Evaluation of Sound Propagation Modelling Methodologies to Predict Offshore Wind Farm Noise Impacts in Ontario.

Scope of Work
The Preferred Proponent will be required to conduct a technical evaluation of sound propagation modelling methodologies to predict Offshore Wind Farm noise impacts in Ontario (the “Study”), and create a report about the Study to the satisfaction of and for approval by the Ministry (the “Study Report”). The scope of work to be performed by the Preferred Proponent includes:

(i) Conducting a literature review and consulting technical and government specialists;

(ii) Preparing and submitting the Study Report based on the literature review and consultation;

(iii) Providing the chapters of the Study Report to the Ministry in draft form for review, comment and approval by the Ministry, and revising the chapters and final Study Report to the satisfaction of the Ministry; and,

(iv) Participating in kick-off meeting/teleconference and periodic teleconferences with Ministry staff as required.

Field measurements, validation testing and/or the purchase of Offshore Models are outside the scope of this study.

Note that this is essentially a literature review; actual noise measurement is “outside the scope.”

It is also likely only related to audible noise: low frequency noise has not been mentioned in the study scope.

Offshore wind power generation projects have been proposed for several areas in Lakes Ontario, Erie and Huron. Concerns about such development range from worries about noise, damage to the lake beds, especially in Erie where the toxic substances have settled, and for property values of adjacent properties.

Wind farm appeals a “stacked deck”

Judges quash majority of turbine appeal

Setback issue to be argued Sept. 3
The Environmental Review Tribunal has ruled that only issues related to an amendment to the HAF Wind Energy Project will be heard next month. The majority of the issues raised in West Lincoln resident Anne Fairfeild’s appeal will not be argued.
Grimsby Lincoln News

WEST LINCOLN — The case against the five industrial wind turbines already spinning in West Lincoln is “still partially alive.”

Anne Fairfield, who appealed the province’s approval of the HAF Wind Energy Project, appeared before the Environmental Review Tribunal for a preliminary hearing last week. All of the issues raised in her original appeal were quashed, meaning only those mentioned in her appeal to the province’s subsequent approval of an amendment to the project will be heard at a hearing next month.

“They knocked out everything not mentioned in the amendment,” said Fairfield. “All we’re left with are property lines and the withdrawing of post construction raptor monitoring.”

Project proponents Rankin Wind Energy and Vineland Power Inc. had to submit an amendment to their application after it came to light that four of the five turbines were built closer to property lines than regulations allow.

According to the Green Energy Act, turbines must be located a minimum of a blade length from the nearest property — in this case, 95 metres.

The province approved the amended application June 20. Fairfield filed her appeal July 3.

Come Sept. 3 Fairfield will only be able to argue on the issue of property line setback infractions and post-construction raptor monitoring. The West Lincoln resident will no longer be able to present on issues of health, gas wells. hazardous waste and the impact on Charter rights — the issues Fairfield raised in her original appeal to the project’s approval.

Fairfield and members of the West Lincoln Glanbrook WInd Action Group met with Niagara West-Glanbrook MPP Tim Hudak Monday to discuss the upcoming tribunal.

Judges quashes majority of turbine appeal

West Lincoln-Glanbrook MPP Tim Hudak meets with constituents in resident’s home

Hudak was vocal in his opposition to the Green Energy Act in his time as PC Party Leader. He raised the issue several times at Queen’s Park on behalf of his constituents in West Lincoln and the province at large, calling for a complete moratorium on more than one occasion. He has called on the Minister of Energy, Bob Chiarelli, twice now to “do the right thing” in the case of the HAF project.

“If you had been caught speeding on Twenty Road, you wouldn’t get a redo,” said Hudak, speaking on the province’s approval of the amended application.

“It only makes sense for the government to follow its own laws.”

Hudak, fresh on the heels of his loss to Kathleen Wynne in the race to become premier, said he would do what he can to help his constituents but realizes his influence is not as strong as it could have been had the outcome had been different in June.

“My goal was to win the election and stop this thing in its tracks,” said Hudak. “I’ve met with Wynne and McGuinty, face to face like we are now, to say this is a bad idea for the province as a whole.”

Fairfield asked if the PC party would continue to push against the Liberal’s green agenda without Hudak at helm. Hudak said he appointed Lisa Thompson to the post of energy critic because her own riding of Huron-Bruce was home to several turbine projects. He was confident the party would continue to push against “one of the most destructive policy decisions in recent history.”

Hudak, like the half dozen residents gathered at Veldman’s house, did not have the same level of confidence the Environmental Review Tribunal would side with Fairfield.

“It’s an incredibly stacked deck,” said Hudak.

“ERTs don’t work,” said Fairfield, noting ultimately the decision will lie in either appeals court or in a judicial review, both of which she is prepared to more forward with.

Read the full story here.

Editor’s Note: the Environmental Review Tribunal Panel is NOT made up of “judges” but rather lawyers who are civil servants, employed by the Province of Ontario.

3 MW turbines prompt MoE wind farm noise investigation

Turbine base at Brinston under construction: 3-MW machines in operation
Turbine base at Brinston under construction: 3-MW machines now in operation

We have been following the South Branch wind power generation project for some time, as it is the first 3-MW turbine project to begin operation in Ontario—to be followed many others. Here is a report from AgriNews on noise complaints; the first complaint was expressed by a member of the community at the wind developers’ community liaison meeting, in April.
News August, 2014 Vol. 38, No. 8

Turbine neighbour prompts noise probe by ministry

By Nelson Zandbergen – AgriNews Staff Writer
BRINSTON  Leslie Disheau has her ear to the ground in South Dundas, and for 10 days last month, a very powerful ear trained on the sky around her Brinston home as well.

Ontarios Ministry of Environment and Climate Change installed the basketball-sized microphone atop a temporary 30-foot listening post in her backyard, along with a smaller meteorological tower.

The ministrys move was prompted by Disheau and partner Glen Baldwins complaints about nighttime noise emanating from two industrial wind turbines on either side of their place, one to their immediate northwest, the other to the southeast. Comprising part of the 10-turbine South Branch project that went into service earlier this year, both of the nearest units are less than one kilometre away from the home the couple shares with their two teenaged children.

But Disheau, candidate for deputy mayor in the municipal election and a fierce critic of the turbine industry, feared that developer EDP Renewables was intentionally slowing the two windmills to quiet them down while the ministry data-collection and audio-recording effort was underway with her participation.

The Houston-based firm almost immediately learned about the microphone on the day of the install, she said with some frustration.

Located just down the road from the projects main depot, it wasnt more than three hours after the arrival of two ministry trucks in her driveway that EDP called the same ministry to question the presence of those vehicles, according to Disheau.

She says the audio technician putting up the equipment learned of EDPs inquiry while talking to his office by cell phone, then told her about it.

Disheau expressed unhappiness that a mandatory post-construction noise report had yet to be publicly filed by the company itself, after putting the project into service in March.

In the meantime, over a 10-day period in July, the ministry captured its own sound data with Disheaus help. During those times she considered the turbines to be noisiest, she pressed a button inside her home, triggering the recording process via the outdoor microphone, which was tethered to audio equipment in a locked box.

Comparing the sound to that of a rumbling plane or jet, she got up at night when she couldnt sleep to push the audio recording button located at the end of a long cord connected to the stuff outside. She also kept an accompanying log as part of the initiative.

The noise is most acute, she said, when the direction of the wind causes the blades to swivel toward her home in perpendicular fashion.

She scoffed at regulations that mandate 500-meter setbacks to neighbouring homes, pointing out the rule doesnt take into account the cumulative, “overlapping” impact of multiple turbines that surround. Nor does the regulation change with the actual size of a turbine, she adds, asserting that, at 3-megawatts apiece, “these are the largest turbines in Ontario.”

Ultimately, the ministry will use the data collected by Disheau to create a report, which could potentially form the basis of ministry orders against the two offending turbines. “To shut them down at night so that people can sleep,” she said with a hopeful tone, though she also acknowledged the ministry may not issue orders. And even if it does, she expects the developer to appeal and appeal.

Disheau also said there are measures that municipal governments can undertake to curtail the noise, including a nuisance noise bylaw of 32 decibels, which recently survived a court challenge in another Ontario municipality. She espouses such a policy in South Dundas and will push for it at the council table if elected.

 

Read the full story here.

Special note to Brinston area residents and others in South Dundas, South Mountain area: the South Branch Wind Opposition Group has ceased operations for the time being; for more information or assistance, please contact Wind Concerns Ontario member group, Ottawa Wind Concerns at ottawawindconcerns@gmail.com or visit www.ottawawindconcerns.com