MOECC misleading the public on wind turbine noise: municipal group

Residents’ health is being harmed, say municipal leaders. They’re not impressed with the MOECC’s lack of action

January 17, 2018

A group of municipal officials sent a formal letter to the supervisor of the Owen Sound office of the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) following a presentation by the MOECC on the subject of wind turbine noise, noise reports, and adverse health effects.

While thanking manager Rick Chappell for his presentation, Stewart Halliday and Mark Davis, deputy mayors speaking on behalf of the group, said it was disappointing, and designed to mislead the public into thinking there are not problems with wind turbine noise in Ontario.

It’s time to stop denying the health effects, the Multi-Municipal group said, and get on to the business of alleviating the real suffering.

The letter follows.

M U L T I – M U N I C I P A L W I N D  T U R B I N E W O R K I N G  G R O U P

11 January, 2018

 

Andrew Barton, District Supervisor Andrew.Barton2@ontario.ca

Rick Chappell, District Manager Rick.Chappell@ontario.ca

Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change

101 –17th Street East

Owen Sound, Ontario N4K 0A5 Dear Mr. Barton and Mr. Chappell,

RE: Your presentation to our meeting of 14 December, 2017

 

Thank you for taking the time to make your presentation to the Multi-municipal Wind Turbine Working Group.

As councillors, we have had ongoing complaints from a significant number of residents living near wind turbines in our area who are suffering harm to their health. The video we presented to you documents the experience of some of those affected. It will also help you to understand the widespread anger and disillusionment with the MOECC’s failure to act on their behalf.

Much of the suffering could have been avoided had the local MOECC offices identified to their standards division that the public were adversely impacted (as confirmed by complaints and field monitoring) even when the turbines might have been compliant with the A weighted limits, since those limits were not appropriately corrected for the cyclical nature of the sound that is unmatched in nature, the tonality, the frequency spectrum, and the dominance of the sound above the local environment, and the other special characteristics of the wind turbine sound.

As recently revealed in FOI disclosure, there have been hundreds of complaints. Failure to resolve them, declining to shut down problematic arrays, and relying on proponent estimates of noise emissions only creates growing distrust of the MOECC.

Your presentation was disappointing. It appeared to be designed to mislead the public into thinking there are no health problems. You presented a rosy picture of a government that is busy working  on our behalf. But our experience shows that it is not.

You admitted at the meeting that you are aware that some people living near wind turbines are getting sick. You agree that IWTs cause annoyance and that leads to health issues. It is time to accept this and move forward— to protect the public so that they are not adversely impacted.

The urgent need for action is confirmed by the recent decision of Australia’s Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) that declared: “We accept that the evidence points to an association and a plausible pathway between WTN and adverse health effects (of a physical nature) mediated by annoyance, sleep disturbance and/or psychological distress”.

The Ministry’s commitment to the Statement of Environmental Values (SEV) under the Ontario Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) (1994) stipulates that it will use “a precautionary, science-based approach in its decision-making to protect human health and the environment” and that “it will place priority on preventing pollution [in this case harmful noise emissions] . . . minimizing the creation of pollutants that can adversely affect the environment. . . . The Ministry will ensure that staff involved in decisions that might significantly affect the environment is aware of the Ministry’s Environmental Bill of Rights obligations”.

You can no longer justify continued inaction by falsely assuming that “components of wind turbine sound including infrasound and low-frequency sound have not been shown to present unique health risks to people living near wind turbines”.

Scientific, peer reviewed work carried out on infrasound and wind turbines by NASA under the direction of the highly respected Dr. Neil Kelley between 1981 and 1988 demonstrated the infrasound component of wind turbine emissions and its adverse effect on nearby residents. The World Health Organization has issued warnings that “the evidence on low frequency noise is sufficiently strong to warrant immediate concern”; “low-frequency noise . . . can disturb rest and sleep even at low sound pressure levels”; “other primary physiological effects can also be induced by noise during sleep, including increased blood pressure; increased heart rate; … vasoconstriction; …cardiac arrhythmia”.

Ambrose and Rand (2011, 2012), Basner et al. (2014), Cooper (2014), James (2013), and Nissenbaum (2012) all related measurements of wind turbine emissions (including infrasound) directly to diarized symptoms reported by those living nearby. Thorne’s study (2013), which took place over seven years, collected acoustic data at a number of homes so that cumulative exposures could be estimated. It concluded that health is “seriously and adversely affected”. Swinbanks paper presented in Glasgow in 2015 did not support your position. The MOECC failed to refer to  published peer reviewed documentation by Tachibana and Kuwano in the Noise Control Engineering Journal 62(6) 503-520 (2015): “Wind Turbine Noise (WTN) generally has dominant low frequencies and is easily transmitted into buildings, causing residents psycho-acoustical annoyance and sleep disturbance”.

We would be happy to provide you with these documents.

How did it get to this state of affairs that local residents have a greater understanding of the problems than the people whose salaries are paid by the taxpayers to protect us? We await some timely, responsible, diligent enforcement action from your office to alleviate the suffering of our residents.

Yours truly,

Stewart Halliday, Deputy Mayor Municipality of Grey Highlands, Chair

Mark Davis, Deputy Mayor Municipality of Arran-Elderslie, Vice-chair

MOECC managers Rick Chappell (4th from left), Andrew Barton at December 14th meeting: misleading the public [Photo: Wind Concerns Ontario]

Comments

Parker Gallant
Reply

Excellent Letter! Let us hope they actually read it and enforce the regulations.

Andre Lauzon
Reply

One day, soon I hope, someone from the wind industry will leak papers showing the industry has known for a long time of the sickness they cause. BIG lawsuits will follow.

Who is the brave soul from within that will save us all from this evil.,

Robert Budd
Reply

Good work guys. Needed to be stated and you did it well. Hard to believe this willful ignorance within ministries is happening in Ontario, but its a “rural” Ontario issue and anything can happen here with no recourse now.

Russel Brock
Reply

Way to go tell the truth the real truth has been missed . I live in the middle of over 300 of these things.We no longer sit outside the noise is so bad I have ringing in my ears I do not sleep anymore . Our water well since the turbine across the street came has turned brown and my neighbors are having sand fill their wells.The turbine behind our house started shedding blade parts landing on the neighbors lawn all of a sudden after years of complaints about loss of. cell phone internet and tv reception which they admit they caused wanted to settle just like that.I could get a settlement for my loss but that 1500.00 settlement would be the last ever so if tomorrow it fell on my house that fifteen hundred would also be the restitution for the house too. We have to get our government involved Kathleen needs to go all local government has to work for us and not foreign investors Time to stand up for us! We the tax payers and land owners

Jean McPhail
Reply

Great letter. It is hard to believe that with all the resources into Trubines and the damages to the water, the noise that they bring to the people living near them, the ugly site of them and of course the costs of them when we don’t need because we have a surplus of electricity the government is so bull headed to continue to push them on us. Wynne has got to go and all Liberals in Queens Park.

Sommer
Reply

Thank you for taking this action.
A copy of this letter needs to go to Premier Wynne and to Minister Ballard as well.

Please publish all of their written response(s) so we can all see them.

Stan Thayer
Reply

Gee I don’t know who is playing who. Why are the green energy prophets being left out. Some of the licensed lobbyists that promoted the IWT’S so well with B.S. figures should be thrown under the bus too. That clunker windmill at Ontario Place should be painted up with stripes like a barber pole. It is the most expensive least productive whirlajig in the province. Millions have been spent to keep it as a tourist attraction and more millions spent to hide the fact that it is useless. Lot’s of officials made on that one.
I find it hard to believe that anyone has not read or heard or seen the facts that have been gathering for 40 years ridiculing IWT’S.
Who knew what or didn’t know what when doesn’t matter now. The blame has to go to the McGuinty Wynne Liberals who ignored all the evidence and preachings and chased after the donations and kickbacks and votes.
Now, the IWT’S went up, they can come down. The question, as always, how much and who pays?
Water wells contaminated forever.
Wildlife habitat gone forever.
Tons of birds slaughtered.
Areas of the province uninhabitable.
30 year mortgage to lower hydro rates.
Increased greenhouse gas emissions.
IWT gas plants cancelled.
Jobs moved out of province.
Homesteads abandoned.
All for what?
Kathleen Wynne was the first
and so far the worst.

[…] Rick Chappell also appeared recently before the Multi-Municipal Wind Turbine Working Group. Following his presentation, representatives of the Working Group wrote to Chappell and stated that in their view, the MOECC was misleading the public. See a report on that meeting and read the letter here. […]

duane
Reply

Here is an article I wrote and was published in the Peel Weekly News in March 2108, regarding the process and cost of de-commissioning wind turbines…it is a costly process and who pays needs to be spelled out when the turbines are installed.

WIND TURBINE DESTINY

by Duane Sharp

With over 7000 turbines ‘gracing’ the Ontario landscape, some of them reaching their best-before-date, Ontarians might be wondering what happens when wind turbines reach the point of no return.

Two options are available, each of which has its merits and downsides.

The first option is ‘decommissioning,’ like saying goodbye to an old ship, before it sinks to its watery grave. The second is re-empowering, a process which puts the turbine back in operation.

The mechanics of decommissioning vary depending on the unique site characteristics and the extent to which parts can be recovered for resale or scrap value, if this process is even feasible.

Ontario is relatively new at this game, but in Europe where wind turbine history is much longer and many wind turbines are in the retirement window, the process is well-established, involving a careful reversal of the construction process, removing all recoverable materials, which can be a lengthy and costly exercise. If the elements of the turbine are not recoverable, rapid deconstruction is the next approach, and nothing is saved.

The other option, if the turbine is still functional and can be brought back into service, is ‘re-empowering,’ a process which may involve replacement of blades and other equipment upgrades which can extend the life of the installation.

Both are costly processes, often in the order of hundreds of thousands of dollars per turbine, and the wind farm owner or developer is responsible under contract for either process.

In Ontario, according to a 2013 report entitled “Wind Turbine Decommissioning in Ontario,” by Alex Stecky, modern wind turbines may last up to 20 years, at which point the facilities must be re-empowered or decommissioned. However, U.K studies estimate that turbine life might be as short as eight years.

In 2009, along with the Green Energy Act, the province of Ontario introduced the Renewable Energy Approvals Regulation which requires a wind energy facility developer to complete a Decommissioning Plan Report ((DPR) prior to approval of their development program.

The largest segment of wind turbine development in Ontario are developer-owned turbines on leased private and crown land. The report included conceptually linking decommissioning to broader planning for wind energy development and land use regulatory frameworks, as well as a set of criteria for evaluating wind turbine DPRs.

Eight evaluation criteria were developed from a review of existing wind energy planning ordinances in forty-two states and municipalities in both the United States and Canada.

Topics for the evaluation of the DPR involve the foundation removal, removal of the infrastructure, site remediation, abandonment, financial assurance, depiction of facility lifespan, and repairing damage caused during decommissioning.

In some cases, wind energy can be a very environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable source of energy when careful decommissioning planning is undertaken to ensure that the costs and benefits are shared equitably and that there are no lasting impacts on the physical and cultural landscape.

While some critics point out that the cost of the eventual tear-down of a turbine is astronomical, the actual cost would be in the $30,000 to $100,000, per turbine, and this would probably be done in stages, on a turbine-by-turbine basis.

Municipalities are on the hook to ensure wind farm developers decommission a turbine, unless they’ve got a binding agreement with the wind power company. Some municipalities demand that wind turbine companies pay on-going payments into protected (or escrow) accounts or bonds to set money aside annually to pay for decommissioning.

Other municipalities require a letter of intent from wind turbine companies to ensure they will be responsible for decommissioning, while still others have no agreement or contract for the process.

Although Canadian experience in de-commissioning is limited, and contracts with municipalities are often confidential, there are some Canadian precedents, and even more revelations from the U.K., Germany, Denmark and South Australia, regarding the destiny of wind turbines, as they reach their decommissioning or re-empowering stage.

Reports from these jurisdictions reflect the growing resistance in some sectors not only to the initial installations but to any move to re-empower them. In the U.K., as recently as last December, critics commented on the “hundreds of billions squandered on subsidies for a power generation system, abandoned years ago, for pretty obvious reasons, pointing out the chaotic, occasional delivery of power which, but for those subsidies, has no commercial value, because it can’t be delivered as and when power consumers want it. As well, in some jurisdictions, renewables have resulted in sky-rocketing retail power prices.”

The relationship and relevance to Ontario’s power failure cannot be over-stated!

-end-

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