The Unifor wind turbine: skirting the law on environmental noise

The Unifor wind turbine towers over a neighbourhood of 200 homes in Port Elgin. It would be illegal today. So far, the union has defied mandatory noise testing requirements, and ignored citizen concerns about the noise, and health impacts

2016-05-13-1463145763-2844419-CreditKarenHunter.JPG

Photo: Karen Hunter

Huffington Post, May 18, 2016

By Karen Hunter

Unifor, Canada’s largest private-sector union (formerly the CAW) owns and operates a wind turbine that generates revenue for the union through taxpayer subsidies. Plagued from its beginning by controversy and compliance issues, Unifor’s turbine continues to operate in defiance of mandatory noise audits and despite hundreds of noise complaints from families forced to live near it.

Unifor’s turbine is not only contentious, it should be illegal by today’s standards due to legislation that came into effect May 1st. But, it’s not the first time the turbine has had this problem. And, the union has always managed to solve it — with a little help from its friends in the Ministry of the Environment (MOE).

Unifor’s wind turbine is a square peg the union forced into a round hole. Located at their Family Education Centre (FEC) in the tourist community of Port Elgin on Lake Huron, the turbine sits in a sports field adjacent to the facility’s parking lot. The 35-storey, 800kw turbine towers over a neighbourhood of about 200 homes with some as close as 210 m.

The union chose the FEC location over a remote plot of 128 acres of undeveloped land it owned about a mile away because, President Ken Lewenza said (in the Shoreline Beacon, Dec.20/11), the undeveloped land was “economically or environmentally unfeasible.” No sooner was the turbine built, the union subdivided the undeveloped land into building lots and sold them for substantial profit.

The union’s decision to locate its turbine in a densely populated neighbourhood posed many legislative hurdles. But, none the union hasn’t been able to handle — at least, so far.

In 2005, when Town Council objected to the turbine’s location, the union took the case to the provincial municipal board (OMB) and got the rejection overturned.

When noise modeling analysis showed that the turbine’s noise would exceed provincial standards for a rural community (making it illegal), the union and the MOE agreed to classify the rural neighbourhood as semi-urban to accommodate the increased noise. The turbine’s noise problem was solved. But, not for long.

Soon after, the MOE issued new legislation focused on health and safety, requiring turbines of its height and power to be located a minimum of 550 m from homes. Again, the not-yet-built turbine would be illegal. However, the MOE agreed to grandfather the union’s turbine approval certificate, exempting the turbine from the mandatory 550 m setback. The union had dodged another bullet. But, the turbine wasn’t yet in the clear.

New noise assessments on the turbine (due to the union’s decision to upgrade it to 800kw) showed it would again exceed provincial noise standards. Once more, it was illegal. This time, the union said …

Read the full story here.

Huron County health board pauses turbine noise health investigation

The claim that it might duplicate another study being done by Ontario is false: the Ontario Health Study is a general population study aimed at factors in health and chronic disease—it has nothing whatever to do with reports of health impacts from wind turbine noise. But everything to do with a Board that wants to make a political decision…

Huron Health Board claims duplication with a study that has nothing to do with wind turbine noise.
Huron Health Board claims duplication with a study that has nothing to do with wind turbine noise.

London Free Press May 16, 2016

Huron County has hit the pause button on plans to investigate health complaints by its residents about industrial wind farms.

Due to start this month, the probe of the impact of wind turbines by Huron County Health Unit has been put on hold by its board of health.

Bluewater Mayor Tyler Hessel, who chairs the board, said Monday the board wants to check with the province to ensure the work by the health unit doesn’t duplicate other efforts. No decision has been made to drop the probe, Hessel said.

“It just doesn’t make sense to duplicate. We are waiting for information to come back . . . We don’t want to get into duplication because we can’t afford to at a small level. We don’t want to get into a situation where we are throwing money away,” Hessel said.

Ontario is undertaking a health study and the Huron health board wants to know if wind turbines will be part of that work, Hessel said.

But the head of Wind Concerns Ontario, a coalition of anti-wind farm groups, said the health unit has a legal obligation to investigate possible health hazards.

“As a registered nurse, I was frankly shocked at the way this board is trying everything it can to squirm out of its responsibility to the citizens under its care. I would expect them to listen to reports of problems, and then do whatever they can to help,” said Jane Wilson.

Huron County is home to more than 250 industrial wind turbines, with more under construction.

Some residents have complained at public meetings that noise from the turbines has caused sleep problems, anxiety and nosebleeds.

In announcing the study on its website, the Huron County health unit said the investigation was in keeping with its legislative duty to investigate potential health hazards to area residents.

Just as the investigation was to launch, the area’s medical officer of health, Dr. Janice Owens, was relieved of her duties by the health board.

Declining to provide details behind the departure, Hessel rejected suggestions by wind farm opponents Owens’ departure was connected to the probe and said the study would go ahead.

Owens has not responded to a request for comment.

At the health board meeting last week, where it was decided not to go ahead with the study immediately, a draft of the health unit survey was presented. …

Read the full story here.

WIND CONCERNS ONTARIO COMMENT

Given the rising number of complaints related to wind turbine noise and health impacts, such as sleep disturbance, the Huron County Board of Health has a responsibility to follow up and investigate these reports under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, Part III.

The Ontario Health Study is a long-term study of determinants of health that lead to disease and chronic conditions such as diabetes—it is NOT related to wind turbine noise in any way. There is no “duplication.”

Any decision to halt the investigation and refuse to follow up on citizen concerns will be a political decision, not one based on the Board’s responsibility to the people under its care.

Big Wind attacks new Australian wind turbine noise study

“A waste of time and money”

The Guardian, March 22, 2016

An Australian research council has given two grants worth $3.3m to research the impact of wind turbines on human health despite concluding last year there was no evidence turbine noise was harmful.

Prof Anne Kelso, the chief executive of the National Health and Medical Research Council, said it had made the grants because “existing research in this area is of poor quality and targeted funding is warranted to support high-quality, independent research on this issue”.

A Flinders University associate professor, Peter Catcheside, will get $1.36m for a study that will compare wind farm noise to traffic noise to determine if low-frequency sound from wind farms could potentially disturb sleep through chronic sleep disruption or insomnia.

In February 2015 the National Health and Medical Research Council concluded there was “currently no consistent evidence that wind farms cause adverse health effects in humans”.

But it noted “the character of the emissions and individual perceptions of them are highly variable”.

“Given the poor quality of current direct evidence and the concern expressed by some members of the community, high-quality research into possible health effects of wind farms, particularly within 1,500 metres, is warranted,” it said.

The council then made a targeted call for research into wind farm noise and human health.

Kelso said: “These grants directly support the Australian government’s commitment to determine any actual or potential effects of wind farms.”

The Australian Wind Alliance’s national co-ordinator, Andrew Bray, said the grants were a waste of time and limited research funding.

Bray said: “The NHMRC’s own review failed to find reliable evidence that wind farms have a negative impact on health.

Bray said exhaustive international studies had also failed to find links between health and wind farms, including a $2.1m study by Health Canada that studied 1,200 households and measured 4,000 hours of wind turbine noise to calculate indoor and outdoor noise levels at different homes in the study.

The Australian Solar Council CEO, John Grimes, said claims of negative health impacts from wind turbines were “the worst pseudo science nonsense” and had been “completely discredited by reputable medical bodies here and around the world”.

Read the full story here.

Huron County to probe wind turbine health impacts

First health unit in Ontario to conduct investigation: "if it impacts the health of a community, it's in our jurisdiction"
First health unit in Ontario to conduct investigation: “if it impacts the health of a community, it’s in our jurisdiction”

“We’re treating it as a potential health hazard as if it were a food [poisoning] outbreak or a cancer cluster” — Huron County epidemiologist Dr Erica Clark

Ontario Farmer, March 15, 2016

By Frances Anderson

(reprinted with permission)

Clinton -The Huron County Health Unit is launching an online survey for residents a suffering in the shadow of industrial wind turbines.
Erica Clark, the Health Unit’s epidemiologist, said the survey will be tested in April, and the goal is to launch the survey in May.”
“We’re treating it as a potential health hazard investigation… exactly as if it were a food disease outbreak or a cancer cluster” Clark explained in an interview.
“The health unit’s mandate is population health, so if it’s something that impacts the health of a community, it’s our jurisdiction.”

And, she added “to my knowledge, we’re the first health unit that’s started this investigation.”
The health unit couldn’t act in advance of the impacts, Clark said, but there are now 270 turbines in the county, and another 50 “coming soon!” With the turbines up and running, health complaints from residents, di rect ly, and through the Facebook pages of health unit staff, have flooded in.
“It’s got to be exhausting,” said Clark. “Some of the emails I get come in two or three times a day.”
This has helped the health unit create a complaint tracking form that is the basis of the survey.
Clark spoke to Ontario Farmer after a presentation to the County’s Board of Health, by Jeanne Melady and Gerry Ryan. They reviewed health impact statements from residents from 26 properties, reporting negative effects ranging from sleeplessness, nausea and nose bleeds, to tinnitus, chest pain and vertigo. Melady herself used to live in St. Columban, but has since relocated to London. She noted there is little protection for residents from the Ministry of the Environment, which sets the regulations that turbines must meet.
The only place the Green Energy Act references health is the Environmental Review Tribunal, but this requires proof of impact before the turbines are built.
Melady also noted that the wind power lobby got rules regarding infrasound, which is outside the range of audible sound but may impact health, removed from regulations because they knew this was an issue.
So, the only recourse left is an appeal to the provincial Health Protection and Promotion Act which governs the Health Units and requires investigation of something that is harming human health.
About 60 residents crowded into the board meeting to support Melady’s presentation. Among them were Rosemary Pentland and three of the oldest of her seven children. They farm north of Nile – “at the start of the red light district” she says, wryly, referencing the blinking night lights that warn airplanes away from the airspace around the K2 project.
“I’ve told Huron County that they need to be held accountable,” she said.
“I have a wind turbine just past 550 feet away,” she told Ontario Farmer. “I have had an ear ache, and tinnitis ever since they first flicked the switch,” she said.
The children’s symptoms range from headaches to ear aches, and one of the youngest has had daily nosebleeds.
“I want to go where there’s no projects,” said Pentland, but it’s not so simple to move a farm.
One has to go a long way to get away from turbine impact warns Ruth Stauttener. She lives 10 km away from the nearest turbines but “is still subject to the sound of a dull motor,” even after she and her husband turned off every device in the house.
“Earplugs make it worse,” she said. “Atmospheric conditions have a lot to do with it…. It was worse in the fall.”
The intent of the health unit survey is to track the effect of turbines on human health over time, and seasons, as weather seems to have major effect.
The survey format is being streamlined. Residents wanting to participate will call the health unit to register their name, age, and location, and situation within the turbine complex, then will be given a personal code to attach this information to their ongoing reporting of sumptoms.
And, while individual’s information will be kept confidential, the information will be aggregated and Clark has committed to analyse it seasonally and publish the results. “It will be a public document,” she said.
“We’ll be looking at the pattern…. using the information from this first phase to inform the next steps.” ” A Medical Officer of Health has the authority to make orders to protect human health. No one has yet ordered wind turbines halted or adjusted to accommodate human health in Canada, Clark said. “Right now we don’t have evidence that will pass that test.”
“We need better information,” she said. “The survey is a key step.

WWW.ONTARIOFARMER.COM

WIND CONCERNS ONTARIO NOTE: Huron County residents interested in participating in the survey, this note is from the Health Unit: Registration for the investigation will be available on the Huron County Health Unit website, www.huronhealthunit.ca. We will not be contacting anyone about the investigation until after the online complaint tracking form is launched in May 2016. Huron County residents who do not have internet access will be able to register for the paper version of the survey by calling the Huron County Health Unit at 519-482-3416.

Please note that only Huron County residents will be able to participate in the wind turbine investigation.

Eastern Ontario wind farm contracts a ‘betrayal’ municipalities say

3-MW wind turbine and house near Brinston: 'engagement' didn't mean 'approval'. [Photo: Ray Pilon, Ottawa]
3-MW wind turbine and house near Brinston: ‘engagement’ didn’t mean ‘approval’. [Photo: Ray Pilon, Ottawa]
Ottawa Citizen, March 11, 2016

The Ontario government has betrayed rural municipalities by approving new wind farms in places that have explicitly voted against them, mayors say — including just east of Ottawa.

“Since we declared ourselves unwilling hosts, we thought we had it made,” says François St. Amour, mayor of The Nation Municipality. “Because there was some talk in the last provincial election that they would honour municipalities that declared themselves unwilling. But I guess that was just another electoral promise.”

The agency that makes the province’s deals for renewable power is readying a contract for a 32-megawatt wind farm there, one of a bunch of bids from private generating companies it’s just accepted. The other in Eastern Ontario is the biggest of the group, a 100-megawatt project in North Stormont.

Both Eastern Ontario councils took votes in 2015 to say they did not want the wind farms on their territories.

The province’s Green Energy Act, meant to kickstart an Ontario industry in manufacturing and maintaining renewable energy technology, gave virtually no say to local governments on where wind and solar farms might go. Many rural residents believed, and still do, they’re being sacrificed for the electricity needs of cities.

The government pulled back. Under the province’s new rules, municipalities don’t get veto power over renewable energy projects but they do formally get asked to say whether new wind or solar farms are welcome or not. Ottawa’s city council regularly votes its formal support for small solar projects, which is worth extra points when would-be operators submit their bids.

“It will be virtually impossible for a wind turbine, for example, or a wind project, to go into a community without some significant level of engagement,” energy minister and Ottawa MPP Bob Chiarelli told a legislature committee in 2013.

“Engagement.” Not “agreement.”

“We will not give a veto, and no jurisdiction gives a veto, to a municipality on any kind of public infrastructure. That should have been clear to them,” Chiarelli says. Wind farms in rural Ontario are like tall buildings downtown, he says: immediate neighbours may hate them but they’re still needed.

Thirteen of the 16 new contracts got local council approval. All of the ones that didn’t are wind farms — the two here and one in Dutton-Dunwich, between London and Windsor, where residents took the issue up in a referendum and voted 84 per cent against. Two wind farms are going to Chatham-Kent, whose council voted to support them.

“They’ve put municipalities on the sidelines. It seems, though, that municipalities get most of the grief,” St. Amour says. His council first voted in favour of the wind farm in The Nation without a whole lot of thought, he says, treating it like the solar farms councillors have welcomed in the past. Councillors changed their minds after hearing from residents.

“It was rough on council last summer. It was really, really rough. Especially because we can’t do much about it. We thought declaring unwilling hosts was it,” St. Amour says.

Mayor Dennis Fife of North Stormont says his council thought the same. “At one time, the government said that if you came out with something saying you were an unwilling host, that would be respected, but that wasn’t the case,” he says.

Read the full story here.

High electricity bills, energy poverty behind municipalities’ call for no new wind power contracts

Ontario is paying too much for wind power, and it doesn’t help the environment anyway, says the Wainfleet Resolution. Reports of health effects worry Wainfleet Mayor.

Erie Media, March 4, 2016

Image result for image Wainfleet wind farm

51 Ontario Municipalities endorse resolution

The Township of Wainfleet has gained support from 51 other municipalities in Ontario who have endorsed the Townships resolution calling on the Ontario government to not award more Feed-In-Tariff contracts for power generation from wind.

In a press release issued by the Township of Wainfleet, “The resolution was based on December’s Auditor General Report which reported that Ontario has a surplus of power generation capacity and, under existing contracts, is paying double what other jurisdictions are paying for wind power.  Adding more surplus generation capacity would add to the already high costs of disposing of surplus electricity.”

According to the release, the cost of electricity is a concern for Ontario residents, straining household budgets and it states that the Ontario Chamber of Commerce noted that high electrical costs are affecting their members’ ability to grow their business which will affect their ability to create jobs in Ontario.

“This suggests the need for a full, cost-benefit review of the renewable energy program before committing Ontario electricity users to even more surplus power,” the release says.

“This quick response from other municipalities to the circulation of the resolution indicates that wind turbines are still front and centre as an important issue in rural Ontario,” said Wainfleet Township Mayor April Jeffs in the Wainfleet Township release.

It continues on to say that Mayor Jeffs is reporting that citizens reports of deteriorating health is a cause for concern, the reports coming in since the beginning of operations for one of the two projects in Wainfleet.

“We did have a family come to us before Christmas and had reported that they were suffering many health effects from the wind turbine near their residence,” Mayor April Jeffs said in a follow up interview. “The main complaint was sleep deprivation caused by infrasound created by the turbine.”

Since the complaint, the family has since sold their house in Wainfleet and moved to Port Colborne.

Jeffs pointed out that Huron County Health Unit has now begun an investigation into health complaints from industrial wind turbines in their community. They will be surveying resident’s complaints of several symptoms including headache, ear pressure, nausea, anxiety, pressure in the head, bloody nose, heart palpitations, high blood pressure, vertigo and sleep disturbances.

“Appropriate long term health studies weren’t done before putting the things up, now they are there and people are noticing problems,” Mayor Jeffs said. …

Read the full story here

 

Huron County Health Unit to launch investigation of wind farm noise complaints and health

This announcement is from the Huron-area community group, Huron East Against Turbines (HEAT).

March 4, 2016
 
TO:                  All concerned
 
FROM:            Area-wide Concerned Residents of Huron County:
                     Jeanne Melady, Gerry Ryan, Patti Kellar, Carla & Mike Stachura
 
SUBJECT:      Huron County Health Unit –  Health Concerns from IWT’s
                 
On March 1, 2016, the Huron County Health Unit stated it will investigate the concerns of residents regarding potential health effects of wind turbines, in keeping with their legislative duty to investigate potential population health hazards.
 
      The Health Unit plans to launch an online and paper survey in May 2016.
 
      information from the survey will help the HCHU decide the next steps to investigate concerns.
 
      Health Unit staff will present their action plan to the Board of Health as part of a report in April, 2016.
 
The HCHU made this decision as a result of correspondence from numerous residents of Huron County to the Huron County Health Unit (HCHU) describing negative health impacts from living close to Industrial Wind Turbines (IWTs).  
 
A delegation had been formed to make a presentation to the Huron County Board of Health on March 3, 2016.  As our delegation was requesting information and the decision by HCHU to proceed with the health investigation, the HCHU scheduled two meetings on March 1, 2016.
                                                                                                                       
The first meeting on March 1, 2016, the HCHU met with Carmen Krogh to further discuss the complaint tracking form that was developed with Public Health Ontario in the fall of 2015.  Dr. Clark and Carmen Krogh have been working together since introduced by Safe Wind Energy for All Residents (SWEAR) in 2014.
 
Later the same day, the HCHU – Dr. Janice Owen (Medical Officer of Health),
Dr. Erica Clark (epidemiology) and Jean-Guy Albert (environmental health) met with
Jeanne Melady, Gerry Ryan, Carla and Mike Stachura.
 
At the meeting, the HCHU detailed their plan to implement an investigation on health complaints from Industrial Wind Turbines. 
 
The following is a synopsis:
 
Phase 1 – The health unit is developing a survey to track wind turbine complaints. 
Carmen Krogh and Tanya Christidis (University of Waterloo) are involved in developing the survey. A small number of affected individuals (5-10) will have input into the survey development during the pilot testing phase in April 2016.
 
The survey will be available electronically (using FluidSurvey) and also as a paper survey. The survey is expected to launched in May 2016. Those wanting to participate will need to register with the health unit first. The initial interview will be done by Dr. Erica Clark and/or additional health unit staff members.
 
Note: Information provided on this survey is owned by the individual.  This means that the health unit cannot share individual responses without permission from the person who provided those responses.  If a person wants to withdraw from the investigation, they have the right to ask the health unit to delete all of the information he/she provided.  Only aggregate (grouped) data will be published.
 
Registering will involve answering an initial series of questions including age, gender, address, health conditions that existed before the IWTs were turned on, how many IWTs are visible from the house, etc.  These initial questions will not be part of the wind turbine complaint tracking.  After completing the survey, individuals will receive a personal code known only to them.  When they enter information into the complaint tracking survey, they will use their personal code so that they do not need to enter information included in the initial interview. 
 
When an individual is experiencing negative impacts, they complete the survey online or on paper.  The survey can be accessed without the code; however, there will be a question that asks for the code.  The personal code is a substitute for answering questions about name, gender, age, address, etc. every time the survey is completed.  
 
The survey will consist of “tick” boxes and a 1-5 “Likert” scale. The survey should take less than 10 minutes to complete.  It will include weather conditions, noise description (i.e. whining, whooshing, wooing, thumping, crashing, whumping, swooshing, tonal sound etc.), the health complaints being experienced at that moment for example – headache, ear pain/pressure, tinnitus, nausea, anxiety, pressure in the head and chest, bloody nose, heart palpitations, high blood pressure, vertigo, sleep disturbances including quality and quantity of sleep, shadow flicker etc.  
 
Resident’s will be encouraged to complete a survey each time they are experiencing negative health impacts.  This could be up to several times a day if the weather is changing etc.  
 
Resident’s that do not have access to the internet will be provided paper forms to complete that will later be entered into the system. 
 
Information will be gathered for each person for a year.  This is necessary because negative health effects are often dependent on seasonal weather patterns. 
 
Data will be analyzed seasonally to determine trends. The process will be open and transparent and results will be made available to the public on a seasonal basis.  
 
The HCHU will be attempting to determine patterns of when and under what conditions people are experiencing difficulty. 
 
Phase 2 – Analysis of the phase 1 results will help the HCHU determine the next steps of the investigation.  The health unit stated next steps may include acoustical testing of both audible noise and infrasound inside and outside of homes of agreeable participants.  The details of phase 2 are still being developed so there is no further information available on phase 2 at this time.
 
Dr. Owen stated that the HCHU’s mandate does not include setting up a medical referral centre or designating a referral physician; however, Dr. Owen is aware that Carmen Krogh is making inquiries on that issue.  If a physician is found that is willing to take referrals, area physicians could refer people to him or her for further testing.
 
 
Timeline:
 
The HCHU will require two “point people” from the “health affected resident group” to communicate with committed residents willing to participate in the development/ testing phase of the survey. 
 
HCHU expects the initial draft survey will be completed by the end of March.
 
HCHU will need a committed group of 5-10 people to “test” the survey beginning in April.     
 
HCHU expects a final version of the survey to be available by May 1st and to begin a long term/full year investigation by May 1st.
 
Note: HCHU inquired as to the best method to find participants.  Interested individuals can contact the HCHU @ (519) 482-3416 or email @ hchu@huroncounty.ca
We also discussed press releases, news media, radio, newspaper, door to door, flyers in the affected area, various email lists, and the HCHU website.  
 
This is the first county health unit investigation, in Ontario, regarding industrial wind turbines, where the affected resident’s health complaints will be tracked long term.
 
Note:  Dr. Owen stressed that this is NOT a research study.  It is an investigation. It will not prove causality. The HCHU is required to do an investigation when there appears to be a community environmental health issue.  Due to the number of complaints the HCHU is receiving from the community, they believe they must do an investigation. The Health Unit is not making a judgement on wind turbines with the survey. They are only investigating whether there is a potential population health hazard.
On March 3, 2016 Jeanne Melady and Gerry Ryan made a presentation detailing the health effects being experienced by Huron County residents.  Statements of 26 households were displayed on a screen.  There were over 80 people in attendance. It was standing room only. This board meeting is rarely attended by the public.
On March 3, 2016, The Huron County Board of Health voted: “to direct staff to prepare a report regarding the presentation by “Concerned Citizens of Huron County” about concerns of health complaints by Huron County citizens exposed to Industrial Wind Turbines”.

 

Health affected residents to present to Huron County Health Unit March 3rd

aboutus

“Can’t pretend these people don’t exist.”

Lakeshore Advance, February 24, 2016

Thursday, March 3, 2016 @ 9:00 a.m. at 77722 London Rd. in Clinton, ON., Jeanne Melady and Gerry Ryan will be making a presentation at the Huron County Health Unit on industrial wind turbines and the adverse health impacts experienced by Huron County residents. This meeting is open to the public. Please show your support by attending.

 Shaun Gregory from the Huron Expositor wrote an article in November 2015 entitled,“Residents say some children are allegedly receiving nosebleeds from wind turbines.” The article detailed a meeting between the wind company and the community in the St. Columban Wind project.  It was standing room only as thetestimonials from 14 households were read aloud and projected onto a screen. 

 In response, Huron County affected residents have been reaching out to one another and relaying similar experiences and forming informal support groups.  In Huron County, there are 6 Industrial Wind projects consisting of over 300 industrial wind turbines – St. Columban, Kingsbridge 1, K2, Varna Bluewater, Goshen, and Grand Bend. 

What was remarkable about the St. Columban community meeting was that the wind company admitted the health effects reported were common occurrences for most of the wind projects throughout the province.

Even Health Canada, and the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CANwea) have acknowledged that people living in the vicinity of wind turbines, at the distances permitted by the Ontario government, can result in a significant percentage of residents being highly annoyed by audible noise, and in particular low frequency noise – a tonal signal of sharply rising and falling pulses.  This contributes to well-known noise stress effects including: sleep disturbance, psychological distress, headache, tinnitus, ear pressure, dizziness, vertigo, nausea, visual blurring, tachycardia, irritability, problems with concentration and memory, panic, episodes of internal pulsation or quivering when awake or asleep.  In addition, it is recognized that chronic strong annoyance can lead to an increase in disease.

 A letter by the HCHU to a family with seven children under the age of 18, that began experiencing many of the above symptoms when the turbines became operational, was that the HCHU would “stay up to date on the latest evidence” and expressed that it would take many years of better measurements and of the people exposed to determine cause and effect. 

Currently, the health unit has no plans to gather and track health complaints of local residents living within these electrical generation facilities.  There is no mechanism in place to determine the scope and severity of the health problems being experienced by Huron County residents living in close proximity to poorly sited turbines. 

 As a community, it is unacceptable to continue to put our “heads in the sand” and pretend these people do not exist. They are our friends, family and neighbors.Ignoring the health impacts being experienced will only lead to further negative emotions including anger, disappointment, dissatisfaction, withdrawal, helplessness, depression, anxiety, agitation, or exhaustion.

 The presenters will be requesting the formation of a working wind turbine committee to include affected residents living in close proximity to industrial turbines.  The goal being to develop a method to accurately track complaints, produce a study to determine the scope and severity of the problem in Huron County, and to develop solutions.

 For more information, or to connect with health affected residents in your area, please contact: huronwindaction@gmail.com or phone (519) 529-7624.

Please show your support by attending on March 3, 2016 @ 9 am @ the HCHU.

Mike Stachura

Ontario’s broken promises on funding for health care and jobs

Ontario’s nurses are campaigning for more health care dollars. If only they hadn’t believed the government’s promises …

The Truth Hurts

Back in January 2012, the Ontario Nurses Association (ONA) issued its Research Paper # 3. The paper was directed at the provincial government and called for increased health care spending including adding 9,000 registered nurses to the sector.

One of the recommendations in the paper was: “To fulfill the 2009 G20 Pittsburg commitment to put quality jobs at the heart of economic recovery – part of the coordinated G20 stimulus plans to which Canada was a signatory – the Ontario government should work with the federal government to establish job creation targets in various areas. This should include job-intensive green job creation and fully subsidized skills training programs accessible to all unemployed and underemployed workers.”

Disaster for health care

Fast-forward four years: the ONA is running TV ads focusing on nursing layoffs at hospitals and reduced health care funding throughout the province. Layoff notices have been appearing regularly since release of the Research Paper. The ONA’s President, Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN, has been outspoken about the health care cuts as in a February 2016 media release where she says “that 2016 is turning into a ‘disaster’ for patient care and it’s now hitting Toronto hospitals.”

It is ironic that the ONA appeared to support Ontario’s Liberal government in the last election, even giving $100,000 to “Working Families,” the coalition of unions that used union dues to paint the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario as not worthy of election. Almost $2.5 million was spent to accomplish that task. The ONA, whose members pay high union dues, spent $687,000 in total.

Billions lost in cheap power exports

Had the ONA re-considered their recommendation to “include job-intensive green job creation” in Research Paper # 3 and instead examined the fall-out from the Green Energy and Green Economy Act (GEA), they might have taken a different tack.  As I noted in an earlier article, just the cost of Ontario’s net exports of electricity from 2007 to 2015 removed almost $4.5 billion from ratepayer pockets. That $4.5 billion would have gone a long way to ensure both the retention of registered nurses and the hiring of recently graduated RNs.

Believing the Ontario Liberal government promises of job creation with the GEA, and endorsing it, the ONA may have exacerbated the continuing cuts to health care. Many earlier studies out of the EU noted that, rather than creating private sector jobs, renewable power developments actually caused the demise of private sector jobs in ratios as much as five to one.  Tax dollars need to come from the private sector and those jobs promised by the McGuinty-led government were simply a pipe dream.

The ONA may also have been led astray by George Smitherman when he set up a $40-million irrevocable trust to save nursing jobs referred to as the Nurses Retention Fund, but only a very small portion of the fund has actually gone to retain jobs.  While the $40 million is a long way from the $4.5 billion mentioned above, it would appear to have done little to support Registered Nursing jobs, perhaps because of the way it was setup by the former Minister of Health.

The ONA should ask the government to focus on wasted tax dollars both within the health care portfolio and elsewhere, including the Energy Ministry where billions of dollars are being wasted annually.

(C) Parker Gallant

The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent Wind Concerns Ontario policy.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Please see a news release on a report issued today by the CD Howe Institute on poor governance in Ontario’s electricity sector. An excerpt: “If a disproportionately large amount is dedicated to unnecessary electricity projects, then that amount is not available to meet other needs such as transportation, schools and hospitals.”

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

Lawyers for

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)