New Ontario wind turbine noise compliance protocol falls short

Way short.

As in, little or no understanding of the problems with wind turbine noise emissions.

New noise protocol misses all the problems

 

On Friday, April 21, the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change released a new protocol document intended for “assessing noise from wind turbines that have already been built. It is used by industry and ministry staff to monitor compliance.”

While in the absence of guidance for staff, and the complete lack of compliance audit information from wind power developers and operators, this is a step forward, the truth is, the protocol doesn’t change much.

Here’s why:

  • the protocol still relies on audible noise only, when many of the complaints registered with the MOECC concern effects that are clearly linked to other forms of noise
  • the protocol does not take into account lower wind speeds, which is where problems are being experienced, particularly with newer, more powerful turbines
  • there is no comment on any sort of transition between the protocol that existed before and this one

Improvements:

  • the Ministry’s action in producing this protocol is an indication that they know they have a problem
  • the description of Ministry response is a good step forward
  • requiring wind power companies to actually have, and to publish, compliance audit documents could be a sign of expectations of greater accountability among the power developers/wind power project operators.

This table outlines the critical gaps in the new protocol document.

 

Issue     Protocol Requirements Actual Experiences
Wind Speeds Assessment of noise at wind speeds between 4 m/s and 7 m/s MOECC testing indicates problem noise starts below 3 m/s which is outside of wind speeds involved in the protocol.
Ambient Noise Narrow time period assessed Wide seasonal variations while wind turbine noise constant
Location Only test outside of home Very different inside noise conditions
Tonal Assessments Uses criticized techniques Narrow band analysis shows tonal noise present.
Resident Input None Resident concerns drive other MOECC procedures
Frequencies Excludes Infrasound Elevated levels of infrasound in homes

 The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change needs to acknowledge that there is a problem with wind turbine noise, and accept that it must play a role as a government agency charged with protecting the environment and people in it — preparing an industry-led document may look like a positive step, but this document does not meet the needs of the people of Ontario forced to live with wind turbines, and their noise emissions.

Wind Concerns Ontario

 

Comments

Mike Jankowski
Reply

Thanks for providing an overview of the changes and how the MoE continues to miss the bus on this. I humbly suggest,

1.) Location: If they still don’t follow-up reports of issues at distances greater than 1,500 m, they remain focused only on audible noise impacts, such as blade vortex shedding. Perhaps you considered this one and the same with Frequency and exclusion of infrasound.

2.) Blade Pass noise emissions: They need to look beyond representing all noise with a number and use of only Sound Level Meters. They need to start looking for the presence of the theoretically predictable Blade Pass Frequency emissions. (Fundamental and harmonics) This resides both within infrasound and low frequency ranges. From a mathematics perspective, processing must include Fast Fourier Transforms from the time domain to the frequency domain, done with certified processing algorithms and include FFT averaging to reject outliers. They need to capture information from purely a scientific perspective and follow it where it leads them and ensure they measure 24/7 for several weeks at a home to ensure they capture the multiple of environmental conditions vs. wind turbine array operating conditions.

Failure to do these things means continued failure to execute on their mandate to protect communities.

Sommer
Reply

Thank you Mike!
Your recommendation needs to be taken directly to the Minister of Energy and the Minister of Environment and Climate Change.
The Minister of Health also needs to be in on this next step. This needs to happen NOW.

Sommer
Reply

We need to demand face to face meeting and demand media presence at these meeting.

Richard Mann
Reply

Please find below my letter I wrote to Huron County Health Unit in December, 2016. I just received news last week that they are still seeing “ethics approval” the health investigation. This all began more than one year ago, in March 2016, when citizens appeared before their Health Board and and investigation was started.

———————

December 5, 2016

Erica Clark, PhD
Epidemiologist, Huron County Health Unit
77722B London Rd., RR #5
Clinton, ON N0M 1L0

Dear Erica Clark,

Thank you for taking the time to talk with me on Nov 29th.

I wanted to follow up with a summary of how I became involved in this issue, the direction and current status of my research, and my position on the issue of study of, and response to, the human health effects caused by exposure to Industrial wind turbines.

1: How I became involved.

I first became aware of this issue in May of 2013 after reading a paper by Carmen Krogh dealing with adverse health effects caused by Industrial Wind Turbines (link).

I came to believe that what was needed was a way to actually test consenting humans by exposing them to infrasound in a lab setting and to scientifically document the effects of this exposure.

2: Direction and current status of my research.

I started my research by working to develop the best infrasound recording method possible. In partnership with Professor John Vanderkooy, we developed a method of measuring infrasound from a single turbine, thereby isolating our results from the “clutter” of other turbines, wind noise, and other “pollutants”.

We published our work and our paper was accepted for presentation at Wind Turbine Noise 2015, INCE/EUROPE, in Glasgow, Scotland in April 2015 (link).

The next step was to design and build a method of producing infrasound in a lab setting. To be a useful research tool this infrasound needed to be identical to that produced by IWT’s.

This required the mathematical and computational research necessary to generate Sound Wave output to an exact duplicate of input data, namely actual turbine recordings previously captured.

This would finally allow others at the university, with appropriate medical training and ethics approval, to scientifically test and document the effects of infrasound produced by IWT’s on consenting humans.

I received university funding for this research from both the Department of Computer Science and the Office of Research in October 2015 which has allowed me to proceed.

My research over the next six months led to the building of prototype #1, a proof of concept device which was able to produce infrasound in a lab setting in the range produced by IWT’s, within a small test chamber.

The system consists of 3 main components: a controllable pressure source, a modulation device that is responsive to input commands, and measurement, analysis, and recording technology.

Prototype #2 is a fourfold scaled up chamber version of the proof of concept device and successfully produces infrasound in response to input commands. Prototype #2 is currently being used to refine design, data collection, and analysis.

Work is currently well along on version #3, a full scale chamber, capable of accommodating a human subject. This will finally allow others at the university with appropriate ethics approval and medical training to test the effect of infrasound on consenting human subjects.

3: My current position

I have kept up to date on the most recent scientific evidence on harm in humans and animals relative to IWT’s

There have also been many surveys and studies regarding human health effects related to Industrial Wind Turbine exposure. Sadly many of them have actually increased suffering by concluding that the subjects were imagining their symptoms, and by varying degrees, labeling them with the “It’s all in your head” designation.

It is also of note that while many people did agree to participate in these surveys and studies in the hope that their concerns would be heard, they were certainly captive participants by being forced to live in proximity to the turbines.

This leads me to my use of the word “ethics” and my beliefs regarding the study and information gathering of a captive group of humans who are currently living in proximity to potential health effects.

I remember during my first year of engineering we were told about an oath and ring ceremony that professional engineers take prior to receiving their accreditation.

These practices vary within different disciplines but two examples come readily to mind:

The National Society of Professional Engineers (USA) states “Engineers, in the fulfillment of their professional duties, shall: Hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the public”.

Professional Engineers Ontario states: “A practitioner shall, regard the practitioner’s duty to the public welfare as paramount”

I believe as scientists and researchers, while we were not actually required to pledge to such an oath, we certainly have a basic moral obligation when we choose to interact with people who are suffering.

At a minimum, this should be to clearly point out both the risks and benefits of interacting with us and to provide referrals to resources and other help related to their suffering. This should be the core principle of any such undertaking and certainly a legally mandated one by any board of health.

Thank you again for taking the time to talk with me and if I can be of any help going forward please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,

Richard Mann
Associate Professor
School of Computer Science
Faculty of Mathematics
University of Waterloo

Rural101
Reply

Thanks for your prompt work and great summary, WCO.
It will be really helpful in residents’ ongoing discussions with MOE.

Jimmy Stewart
Reply

The new protocol looks exactly like what one would have expected if it was determined that government cared not a whit about public safety, and is only concerned about how closely they can snuggle in bed with the wind developers. I, for one, am not surprised in the least. Only angry and frustrated.

Ron Hartlen
Reply

The most straightforward and simplest route to investigating infrasound effects is to make low-frequency vibration measurements within the home.
Also, there needs to be recognition that some infrasound may actually be coming off the towers, with the periodic unsteady flow (“aeolian” vortex-shedding) strongly augmented by blade-passing.
Also, infrasound may be generated well downstream by turbulent mixing between the wake-defect and the entrained ambient air.
Would any pension-focused bureaucrat have the foggiest idea what I am talking about here? Probably not. And if they did, would they act? Probably not.

Sommer
Reply

This is no time for pessimism. Real people are being harmed.

It’s amazing how people who are not being directly harmed can be so complacent about stopping these turbines…. so objective. The timeline is not an issue.
Meanwhile people who are being harmed are struggling to function in their homes. They need the turbines to be turned off NOW. The task of making phone calls and writing letters to all who are responsible for this harm is overwhelming.The abuse of being stonewalled by all who are responsible only adds to the harm.
They need effective advocacy. It takes real compassion and visionary leadership to volunteer to be an effective advocate.
We’re reclaiming the rights of rural residents to the safety and security of their homes. This is a major turning point in the history of Ontario.

Richard Mann
Reply

For an update on the Health Impacts of Wind Turbines, here is a talk by Carmen Krogh, speaking at University of Waterloo.
https://livestream.com/itmsstudio/events/7194480

DATE: Wednesday, March 29, 2017
TIME: 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM
LOCATION: DC 1302, University of Waterloo.

TITLE: Industrial wind turbines can harm humans
PRESENTER: Carmen M Krogh

ABSTRACT:
The topic of the risk of harm to human health associated with wind energy facilities is controversial and debated worldwide. On May 7, 2014, Carmen Krogh presented a seminar at the University of Waterloo which considered some of the research dating back to the early 1980’s. A snapshot of some of the current research available in 2014 was provided. The research is challenged in part by the complexities and numerous variables and knowledge gaps associated with this subject. This presentation will explore some of these research challenges and provide an update on the growing body of evidence regarding human health risk factors. Included will be the emerging research indicating risks to those working in this field.

BIO:
Carmen M Krogh is a full time volunteer and published researcher regarding health effects and industrial wind energy facilities and shares information with communities; individuals; federal, provincial and public health authorities, wind energy developers; the industry; and others. She is an author and a co-author of peer reviewed articles and conference papers presented at wind turbine scientific noise conferences. Ms Krogh is a retired pharmacist whose career includes: senior executive positions at a teaching hospital (Director of Pharmacy); a drug information researcher at another teaching hospital; a Director of a professional organization; and a Director (A) at Health Canada (PMRA). She is the former Director of Publications and Editor in Chief of the Compendium of Pharmaceuticals and Specialties (CPS), the book used by physicians, nurses, and health professionals for prescribing information in Canada.

Richard Mann
Reply

Latest research on infra sound perception:

“Altered cortical and subcortical connectivity due to infrasound administered near the hearing threshold – Evidence from fMRI”

Markus Weichenberger, Martin Bauer, Robert Kühler, Johannes Hensel, Caroline Garcia Forlim, Albrecht Ihlenfeld, Bernd Ittermann, Jürgen Gallinat, Christian Koch, Simone Kühn
PLOS
Published: April 12, 2017
https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0174420

Abstract

In the present study, the brain’s response towards near- and supra-threshold infrasound (IS) stimulation (sound frequency near-threshold) as well as the right superior frontal gyrus (rSFG) during the near-threshold condition. In summary, this study is the first to demonstrate that infrasound near the hearing threshold may induce changes of neural activity across several brain regions, some of which are known to be involved in auditory processing, while others are regarded as keyplayers in emotional and autonomic control. These findings thus allow us to speculate on how continuous exposure to (sub-)liminal IS could exert a pathogenic influence on the organism, yet further (especially longitudinal) studies are required in order to substantialize these findings.

Judy
Reply

Same old every where you go. Here in Antelope county, Nebraska of the United States, our county is on verge of removing noise limits so the wind companies won’t have to be inconvenienced by doing worthless noise studies that aren’t enforced.

Barbara
Reply

Judy, thanks for the information.

If this can be done at the U.S. county level, then this can spread across the U.S. and Canada.

Andre Den Tandt
Reply

The ministry document , part A4 SCOPE, includes the following: ” Wind turbine noise in the infrasound range ( is ) beyond the scope of this document “. Such woeful ignorance of the current , and some not so current science, amounts to a wilful disregard of the ministry’s statutory duty to protect all citizens’ environment. A judicial inquiry after next year’s election should be set up to ensure that people are held accountable .

Stan Thayer
Reply

If we can somehow cut into the money flow and cause time delay’s then perhaps some form of control can be gained on this never ending nightmare. The subsidies are staggering and I cannot begin to imagine how much over the last 10 years. We now have enough factual information that proves these IWT’s are not needed or wanted. It is a government created renewable energy scam that has gone horribly wrong at our expense. The meetings, the letters, the emails, the criticisims we have endured.
What more can we do to stop this slow motion train wreck?
I watched as a boatload of cement left the dock at Bath Ontario from Lafarge heading to destroy the beautiful scenery of northern Ontario with these IWT’s. None of it necessary.
Maybe we can just give them the money and tell them to stop!
Stan Thayer

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