Wind Concerns Ontario is a province-wide advocacy organization whose mission is to provide information on the potential impact of industrial-scale wind power generation on the economy, human health, and the natural environment.
Daniel Stapleton of Niagara County: managing risk is my job [Photo: Niagara Gazette]
September 17, 2019
Last week, Senator Robert Ortt of New York State, hosted a public health forum in Williamsville, NY. Many speakers attended including acoustician Robert Rand, audiology professor Jerry Punch, and others.
The Public Health Director for Niagara County, Daniel Stapleton, was one of the featured speakers. Starting out with the grave pronouncement, “I don’t call them wind ‘farms,’ I call them industrial wind turbines,” Stapleton said it is his job to manage risks to health in his jurisdiction.
He pointed out that sleep disturbance is an acknowledged and serious risk to health, and leads to various chronic diseases. He linked wind turbine noise emissions to sleep disturbance (which is not the same as sleep deprivation) and the development of chronic disease.
He said that he, and many fellow public health officials are so concerned about wind turbine noise emissions and the lack of appropriate regulation, that he, and 58 other officials will be issuing a statement on the need for stronger regulation governing wind turbines.
In Ontario, Canada, wind turbine noise regulations were drafted by the government under Premier Dalton McGuinty whose government took many actions to promote wind power development; the regulations, including property setbacks, were developed in consultation with the wind power industry.
They have not been updated.
Ontario received more than 4,500 reports of excessive noise from wind turbines, many with reports of adverse health effects, between 2006 and 2016.
Wind Concerns Ontario has requested the noise reports for 2017 and 2018 from the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, but has notreceived any documents. The 2017 documents were the subject of an appeal after lack of response was deemed a refusal, but the request has still not been fulfilled, after more than a year.
A renowned researcher specializing in noise emissions and their effect on the human body, will be speaking at the University of Waterloo on September 12.
All are invited and there is no charge for the event.
Speaker: Mariana Alves-Pereira
Title: Infrasound & Low Frequency Noise: Physics, Cells, Health and History Date: Thursday September 12, 2019
Time: 1 pm
Location: University of Waterloo, Room: DC 1302 (Davis Centre)
Speaker Bio: Mariana Alves-Pereira holds a B.Sc. in Physics (State University of New York at Stony Brook), a M.Sc. in Biomedical Engineering (Drexel University) and a Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences (New University of Lisbon). She joined the multidisciplinary research team investigating the biological response to infrasound and low frequency noise in 1988, and has been the team’s Assistant Coordinator since 1999. Recipient of three scientific awards, and author and coauthor of over 50 scientific publications (including peer-reviewed and conference presentations), Dr. Alves-Pereira is currently Associate Professor at Lusófona University teaching Biophysics and Biomaterials in health science programs (nursing and radiology), as well as Physics and Hygiene in workplace safety & health programs.
Her most recently published paper concerns low-frequency noise and infrasound, and how outdated regulations are failing to protect health.
Host: Associate professor Richard Mann, http://www.cs.uwaterloo.ca/~mannr
Medical Officer of Health tells international audience that “the notion that extensive fracturing of bedrock could result from piles is ludicrous.”
June 25, 2019
Speaking at the 2019 conference on wind turbine noise in Lisbon, Portugal earlier this month, Dr. David Colby took on “allegations” of disturbance of well water by wind turbine construction and pronounced the situation as impossible.
Dr. Colby was listed simply in the conference programme as being associated with Western University (he is an associate professor of microbiology and immunology) but did not list his position as Medical Officer of Health for Chatham-Kent.
In decidedly un-academic language he began by stating that “allegations of water well interference, sediment infiltration and aquifer contamination due to ground borne vibrations from wind turbine construction and operation have been levied against a wind farm in Chatham-Kent, Ontario, Canada.”
Dr Colby’s paper is simply a recitation of evidence provided by the wind power proponent/operator and by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment at the appeal of the project. He states that the appeal was withdrawn, implying that there was no basis for it. In fact, the proponent sprang a technical report on the Appellant during the proceedings and the Tribunal refused to allow the Appellant (appearing without legal counsel) time to review the report — the Appellant was left no choice but to withdraw.
Relying on a technical report prepared for the wind power operator by Aecom Canada and the original environment ministry assessment, Colby concluded that “water quality in the study area of Chatham-Kent was poor from the outset.
“There is no evidence that water wells are being systematically affected by construction or operation of wind turbines,” Dr Colby concluded.
Not content with negating the complaints of dozens of property owners in his public health jurisdiction, Dr Colby also took a swipe at citizens in North Stormont, where one of the main concerns is that the 100-megawatt “Nation Rise” wind power project is being built on an area deemed by the province to be a “highly vulnerable aquifer.” He cited the fact the appeal was dismissed by the Environmental Review Tribunal as more proof that there is no association between wind turbines and well disturbance.
But that’s not what groundwater experts say.
In the current issue of the journal of the Ontario Groundwater Association, “Turbidity and Turbines” is the feature article, which includes an interview with hydrogeologist Bill Clarke.
“There is no doubt in my mind this is well interference,” Clarke said.
Joel Gagnon, professor in Environmental and Earth Sciences at the University of Waterloo was also interviewed about testing he and a team of students carried out on the Chatham-Kent affected wells. Where Dr Colby states outright that not only is there no problem with the well water, it’s actually impossible that there could be, Professor Gagnon says “there is a lot of uncertainty.”
He wants more investigation into the issue.
The Groundwater article says that there are not more than 80 water wells affected in Chatham-Kent. Hydrogeologist Clarke is concerned about the future, and worries the situation could become a “tragedy.”
“Why not stop,” he says, “reflect on what we don’t know.”
A doctor who denies health impacts and a connection to disturbed water wells, an industry insider, and a researcher who claims there is no association between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects, are all speaking at an international Wind Turbine Noise conference this week. Whatever will they say?
June 12, 2019
Tomorrow, June 13, at 0900 EDT, Dr. David Colby will deliver a presentation at the Wind Turbine Noise 2019 conference #WTN2019 in Lisbon, Portugal.
Dr. Colby, who is Medical Officer of Health for Chatham-Kent, where there have been allegations of contamination of water wells by particulate matter during wind turbine construction and association with vibration from turbine operation, is presenting a talk titled “Wind Turbines and Groundwater Contamination – an analysis.”
Dr. Colby told Chatham-Kent media that he was not travelling to this conference as a Medical Officer of Health, but rather as a private citizen, and paying expenses himself.
There are many concerns about Dr. Colby’s talk, not the least of which is despite the absence of an investigation into the allegations of contamination, which Chatham-Kent residents have been calling for, is that he has on more than a few occasions claimed there is no relationship between the wind turbine construction in North Kent and any changes in wells and the water supply.
In a story in Farmers Forum, in which MPP Monte McNaughton said the government has asked the Chief Medical Officer of Health for the province to look into the situation, Dr. Colby is quoted as saying there was “no evidence” of a relationship between the turbines and disturbed wells.
In an interview published today by the Chatham Voice, Water Wells First leader Jessica Brooks said that with dozens of wells now contaminated, patience with government inaction is waning.
According to research by Water Wells First, Brooks said, the black shale, contained in the water from the disturbed wells, is a material considered an Environmental Hazard in Canada because it has been shown the particles contain heavy metals such as arsenic, mercury, lead and uranium.
The toxins in the particles may become bioavailable when digested in stomach acid.
“A 2016 joint report between Cancer Care Ontario and Public Health Ontario acknowledged that Ontarians are in fact getting cancer each year from environmental carcinogen exposure. The report specifically acknowledged the heavy metal arsenic, which causes a cancer burden on Ontario’s beleaguered health care system each year,” Brooks said.
The content of Dr Colby’s address is unknown; however, he told Jessica Brooks earlier this year that he is simply reviewing publicly available information, including an analysis by Aecon, involved in construction of the North Kent wind power project.
Later tomorrow, Dr Colby is chairing a panel discussion titled “Impact on People.” He has testified as an expert witness for wind power proponents in the past during legal and quasi-legal proceedings.
Also presenting at this conference is Payam Ashtiani, whose firm Aercoustics boasts that it developed the compliance protocols for wind turbine noise for the (previous) government, and now regularly completes audits of wind turbine noise to assess compliance, and Dr. David Michaud (not a medical doctor), one of the authors of the Health Canada noise study.
“We get it” ministers tell community leaders from Ontario rural communities
June 2, 2019
Ontario’s Minister of Energy and Northern Development Greg Rickford attended an event at Queen’s Park sponsored by MPP Daryl Kramp (Hastings-Lennox and Addington) and hosted by Wind Concerns Ontario this week with his colleague Rod Phillips, Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks.
Minister Rickford said the two are working together on responding to citizen concerns and reports of noise and other adverse effects from the thousands of industrial-scale wind turbines that were forced on Ontario communities by the McGuinty-Wynne governments.
“It won’t happen overnight,” Minister Rickford said, but we are dedicated to helping communities with concerns and problems with wind turbines.
In recent days, the environment ministry has determined that two large wind power projects are not in compliance with provincial noise regulations. K2 Wind is out of compliance and now the subject of a Director’s Order to implement a noise abatement plan within the next two weeks, and further, to establish firm dates for new audits to demonstrate compliance to the revised noise protocol by mid-July.
The Director has also stipulated that K2 Wind, which is owned now by Axium Infrastructure, must review resident complaints as part of its response.
The Order, the requirements for immediate noise abatement, and the acknowledgement of resident concerns mark a significant departure from how complaints were managed by the previous government, which treated the wind power operators as their “Client” and failed to respond to the majority of complaints. Response to complaints about noise and other effects is a requirement of Renewable Energy Approvals.
The “Windlectric” project on Amherst Island was also determined to be out of compliance; Wind Concerns Ontario is unaware of a Director’s Order for that project.
The Energy Minister said that cancelling the contracts with wind power operators was difficult and likely not possible, but the government was taking other action to deal with problems. Minister Phillips said they are very aware of the problems being experienced.
“We need more material from you,” he said, speaking to community leaders from across Ontario.
Many of the MPPs who have wind turbines in their ridings attended the event including Lisa Thompson (MInister of Education), Rick Nicholls (Deputy Speaker), Laurie Scott (Minister of Labour), Sam Oosterhoff, Jeff Yurek (Minister of Transportation) and of course, Daryl Kramp, who sponsored the information event. Other MPPs attending were Daisy Wai, Belinda Kalaharios, Michael Parsa, Robin Martin and Effie Triantafilopolous (both Parliamentary Assistants to the Minister of Health), Dave Smith, Doug Downey, Goldie Ghamari, Logan Kanapathi, Vijay Thanigasala, Will Bouma, Jim McDonell, and Jane McKenna.
Senior staff members for MPPs also attended the event.
“When the Green Energy Act was passed in 2009, Premier Dalton McGuinty promised action to address any concerns about health and safety associated with wind turbines,” said WCO president Jane Wilson. “That’s not what happened — today, we have thousands upon thousands of complaints filed with government about noise and other effects, and the former government did almost nothing.”
Minister Lisa Thompson, who was environment critic while the PC party was in Opposition, told WCO president Jane Wilson, “I think about this every single day–I have been with you from the beginning.”
MPP Rick Nicholls, who has many turbines in his Chatham-Kent riding, said the reality of wind turbines has resonated with the public which no longer believes the mythology about impact-free, “green” wind power generators. He referred to the defeat of the pro-wind Chatham-Kent mayor as a sign of the public’s changed attitude.
“I think they get it that there are concerns,” said Stewart Halliday of Grey Highlands, who is vice-chair of the Multi-Municipal Wind Turbine Working Group, and who came to represent municipal concerns about noise and safety issues. “They reassured us and now they are starting to take action with K2 and Amherst Island.”
Posters were presented around the room, outlining major concerns and suggestions for government action. A slide show featured pictures from wind turbine projects all over Ontario including Amherst Island, Bow Lake, K2 Wind, Bluewater, Belle River, and Chatham-Kent.
A WCO member and resident of West Lincoln wrote to WCO after the event to say “spirits were uplifted” for area residents after the ministers’ statements and recent actions by the MECP.
One of Ontario’s largest wind power projects, K2 Wind, a 140-turbine project in the Township of Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh in Huron County, has been found out of compliance with conditions of its Renewable Energy Approval, and Ontario noise regulations.
The operator for the project has been issued an Order by the Director of the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks to act immediately to develop and implement a Noise Abatement Plan and further, to conduct an acoustic audit to confirm compliance.
The K2 Wind power project began operation in 2015; documents obtained under a Freedom of Information request by Wind Concerns Ontario show that the Ontario Liberal government had received more than 400 complaints about wind turbine noise and other adverse effects by the end of 2016. 
Residents have continued to complain about the project and earlier this year, testing took place at several homes where families have persisted in filing reports of excessive noise and vibration/sensation.
The Provincial Officer’s Order instructs K2 Wind Ontario Inc. to undertake various actions related to the project. By June 14, they are to have developed and implemented interim abatement measures to bring the project into compliance with the Noise Performance Limits of the project. A range of options were provided for these changes including:
Limiting the number of hours during a twenty-four (24) hour period during which the Equipment operates;
De-rating the wind turbines to reduce the Sound Levels emitted from the Equipment; or
Curtailing the operation of the Equipment under specific conditions, such as wind speed and direction.
Details of the changes made are to be provided to the Ministry by June17.
In addition, the project operator is to engage an Acoustical Consultant who is to prepare and submit a Noise Abatement Action Plan (NAAP) by July 19. This NAAP is to include:
Mitigation measures to ensure that the Facility is operating in compliance with the Noise Performance Limits;
Detailed timelines for the implementation of the NAAP: and
The submission and the timeline for completion of a new I-Audit, including Tonal Assessments, to verify that implementation of the NAAP have achieved compliance with the Noise Performance Limits
The Order is unusual in the history of the Ontario government managing complaints about wind turbine noise and other emissions, says Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson. “Up to now, resident complaints have been largely ignored by the Ministry. The documents we received showed the response rate had actually declined, and the Ministry did not seem prepared to take any action at all against the wind power operators, who are classified as the ‘Client’ in Ministry documents.
“This is a departure in tone and intent,” Wilson says.
In closing arguments at the appeal of the Nation Rise wind power project last August, Ministry lawyer Paul McCulloch claimed that evidence presented by Wilson based on the government records of noise complaints was not to be taken seriously by the Environmental Review Tribunal because the complaints (though recorded by government Environmental Officers who are also classed as Public Officers under the Criminal Code of Canada) should have been supported by medical opinion.
In a letter to Carla Stachura, a homeowner living among K2 Wind turbine who has been stalwart on filing reports of wind turbine noise, Environmental Officer Natasha Munn stated: “The ministry has directed Pattern Energy to review the information from your complaints as part of the overall assessment. The information submitted will be assessed using the 2017 Compliance Protocol for Wind Turbine Noise.”
“That is really important,” says Jane Wilson. “Resident reports of excessive noise are to be taken seriously and evaluated, as stipulated in the Renewable Energy Approvals.”
Noise abatement has been required before, notably in the case of the Unifor turbine in Port Elgin, a problematic turbine that has been de-rated twice, and now operates at 300 kW — while the complaints keep being filed with residents, regardless of abatement.
A noise abatement plan was suggested, but not ordered, for multiple turbines in the Melancthon project but there is no evidence in government records that this ever happened, and complaints continue to be filed.
It is unclear what effect if any this Order could have on the Nation Rise project which is now in Direct Appeal to the MInister; while K2 Wind’s new audits will be assessed against the newer 2017 noise limits while Nation Rise (also owned in part by Axium Infrastructure) was allowed to submit its renewable energy application using the old limits, despite not having specified the turbine models to be used.
 Wind Concerns Ontario has also requested records from 2017 and 2018, neither of which have been fulfilled.
 Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks, Provincial Officer’s Order, 8710-BBPJA8, dated May 23, 2019.
See also a recent article on how the failure to act on citizen complaints about wind turbine noise is a serious failure in public health surveillance: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/331174238_Wind_Turbine_IncidentComplaint_Reports_in_Ontario_Canada_A_Review-Why_Are_They_Important
In a recent meeting with senior officials in the Ontario Ministry of Health, members of Wind Concerns Ontario executive were told that “not that many people” are affected by wind turbines in Ontario.
We launched a research project to estimate the numbers of people now forced to live with wind turbines and discovered:
THOUSANDS Ontario citizens are living near turbines, and inside turbine arrays in wind power generation projects.
Going back over project documents and wind power developer noise impact estimates, we learned that in fact, there are over 30,000 homes located within 1,500 metres of a wind turbine in Ontario. Applying a conservative figure of 2.5 people per residence, that means that 91,300 people are exposed to the highest levels of noise, vibration and other wind turbine noise emissions.
In other words, the number of people being exposed to wind turbine noise is equivalent to the population of the City of Pickering.
“This puts an end to the notion that there are only a few people in Ontario living next to these industrial power generators,” says Jane Wilson, RN, president of the Wind Concerns Ontario community group coalition. “We know from the calls and emails we get that there are many people in Ontario suffering from exposure to the noise. At a minimum, they have sleepless nights from the noise they can hear. At worst, they have other problems including severe headaches, vertigo and cardiovascular symptoms.
“This is a major public health problem that is being ignored.”
Wind turbine noise regulations* only apply to homes within 1,500 metres; the government has assumed that beyond this distance, people will not experience any effects of wind turbine noise emissions.
Records of noise complaints dispute this, however, and even the poorly designed Health Canada report on wind turbine noise indicates that problems persist beyond the 1,500-metre distance.
So, what does that mean in terms of the likelihood of adverse health impacts from the noise produced by the huge power generators?
Strong health impacts
According to a paper published in 2012 by the Acoustic Ecology Institute, “up to 20 percent of nearby neighbours [of turbines] are strongly impacted with sleep disruption, stress issues, and their sense of home and place is forever changed.” The paper notes that some impacts may be “extreme” and result in noticeable changes to health status.
The Ontario government was aware of this very early on in its wind power program, when a report by consultants under contract to the McGuinty government contained this statement:
“The audible sound from wind turbines is nonetheless expected to result in a non-trivial percentage of persons being highly annoyed.** As with sounds from many sources, research has shown that annoyance associated with sound for wind turbines can be expected to contribute to stress-related health impacts in some persons …”
Today, the Ontario government has records of thousands of reports of excessive wind turbine noise and vibration, which are largely unresolved. In a review of Master Incident Reports prepared by Provincial Environmental Officers, Wind Concerns Ontario discovered that 35 percent of the files contained notations from the officers about adverse health effects from the noise emissions reported.
Burden on healthcare system
Many people seek medical attention for the symptoms being experienced due to the exposure to wind turbine noise, and often have many interactions with our healthcare system. For example, one member of one family reported multiple visits to the family physician who arranged both MRI and CT scans and consultations with audiology, ear, nose and throat, as well as neurology specialists. The cost to the healthcare system to investigate the physical effects of exposure to wind turbine noise in just one person is considerable.
The Nation Rise power project in North Stormont will add hundreds more people exposed to wind turbine noise, with virtually every resident in a nearby hamlet living within 1,500 metres of a turbine. The project is being appealed currently to Environment Minister Rod Phillips.
Sample of Ontario wind power projects and the number of receptors within 1,500 metres
# of turbines
# of “receptors”/houses
# of People
Melancthon 1 and 2
Niagara Region Wind
Note: Receptor numbers based on Noise Reports prepared by the proponent as part of the REA approval process. Population estimates were reached by applying a factor of 2.5 per residence. Vacant receptors were not included in this survey. Source: Wind Concerns Ontario
Copyright: Wind Concerns Ontario
*Section 6.2.4 of Ontario’s Noise Guidelines for wind power facilities
**”Annoyance” in this context is used as a medical term denoting stress or distress.
email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Many organizations act on consumer or user complaints because they know those complaints are an important indicator of the success — or failure — of a product or program. The Ontario government now has records of thousands of complaints dating back to 2006 regarding excessive noise and shadow flicker or strobe effect. The detailed files on these complaints, which contain notes by Provincial Officers with the ministry of the environment, also contain comments on adverse health effects stemming from exposure to the noise emissions.
While organizations like Health Canada act on reports of adverse effects from medications or problems with medical devices, the Ontario government instead maintains all complaints about wind turbines under the environment ministry and, to the best of our knowledge, does not even share these complaints and records with the provincial health ministry.
An article titled “Wind Turbine Incident/Complaint Reports in Ontario, Canada” was published recently in an international open-access library; the paper reviews the Ontario situation in the context of other public health reporting tools, and refers to documents Wind Concerns Ontario received via requests made via Freedom of Information legislation.
Conclusion? Ontario instituted a complaint process with the purpose of assuring citizens health and safety will be protected … but they’re not using it.
Here is an excerpt from the article:
Documentation of citizen noise reports received from the government shows that in the beginning, staff of the province’s environment ministry made an attempt (though apparently without resolution) to respond to the reports of excessive noise and other effects of wind turbine noise emissions. This may have conflicted with the government’s “green energy” policy as the efforts appear to have changed from response to issues management as the response rate to complaints declined to 6.9 percent in 2015-2016, from 40 percent in 2006-2014 (, p. 4).
Copies of staff training materials in Ontario which were received in the [Wind Concerns Ontario] FOI request show that employees were given specific directions from management as to what action, if any, to take. For example, in one PowerPoint training session, staff was directed not to treat wind turbine noise as tonal (, p. 9). It is possible the reason for this, could have been that according to the government noise measurement protocol, a 5 dBA penalty would have to be applied to noise measurements in the case of tonal or cyclical noise emissions, in which case a turbine might have been found non-compliant with regulations.
Notes from staff in summary reports of Incident Reports also indicated that staff recommendations to middle and upper management to issue orders for
noise abatement or other actions were ignored (, p. 12). It appears that the process of filing wind turbine Incident Reports and its purpose for addressing concerns about effects on health and safety may have resulted in more reports than expected and may have been dissonant with stated
government policy objectives to promote “green” energy.
Courage undiminished in community resolute to protect the environment and health
January 6, 2018
Although the people of North Stormont, just south of Ottawa, introduced many new concerns about wind turbine construction and operation –including evidence that has never before been presented at an appeal in Ontario –it wasn’t enough to meet the strategically constructed impossible test set up by the Green Energy Act.
The onus is on a community to prove that the power project “will cause” serious harm to human health and “will cause serious and irreversible harm” to the environment.
Never mind that the huge turbines will be built on what the province has designated a “highly vulnerable aquifer”.
Never mind that some of the turbines could be constructed and operate on unstable soil conditions including Leda or “quick” clay, in an earthquake zone. No seismic evaluations were ordered, or done.
Never mind the fact that two engineers testified about wind turbine failures in Ontario and the dangers of blade failure and ice throw. (The Tribunal’s answer to that was, OK, sure, maybe, but nobody has died yet, have they?)
Never mind that there are records of thousands of reports of excessive noise, sleep disturbance and adverse health effects filed with the Ontario government.
It is a credit to the people of rural Ontario that in the face of moneyed interests, a public service that is still entrenched in the previous Liberal government’s unfounded green energy ideology, and a set-up system stacked against people and communities (to say nothing of the environment), that they continue to fight.
The people of North Kent still want action on the damage done to their water wells; the people of Prince Edward County are still fighting to have an unnecessary and now cancelled wind power project actually removed; the people of Ontario living with turbines continue to file reports of excessive noise, despite government inaction.
And the people of North Stormont have vowed to fight on.
“We couldn’t just sit back and let the project go up without fighting it,” community group leader Margaret Benke told the Cornwall Standard-Freeholderin an interview. “We have options open to us, and that is the direction we’ll be going in now.”
Read the decision by the Environmental Review Tribunal here: http://elto.gov.on.ca/tribunals/ert/decisions-orders/ Case 018-028
To contribute to the legal fight in North Stormont use GoFundMe here: https://ca.gofundme.com/stop-wind-turbines-in-northstormont
Or send a cheque to the Concerned Citizens of North Stormont in care of Wind Concerns Ontario, PO Box 509 250 Wellington Main Street, Wellington ON K0K 3L0.