WCO to Health Minister, Chief Medical Officer Health: STOP turbine approvals now

Wind Concerns Ontario, immediately upon learning the results of the University of Waterloo research prepared for the Renewal Energy Technologies and Health (RETH) project, wrote a letter to the Ontario Premier and Ministers of Energy and the Environment, demanding a halt to all wind power generation approvals immediately.

Today, we wrote to Health Minister Deb Matthews and Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr Arlene King. The letter is below.


WIND CONCERNS ONTARIO

October 28, 2013
Honorable Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care
Dr. Arlene King, Chief Medical Officer of Health
By e-mail
Dear Minister Matthews and Dr. King:
Re: University of Waterloo research on wind turbine noise; need to halt wind power project approvals immediately
We learned recently of the Ontario Research Chair symposium held at Glendon College on October 17, 2013, at which were presented the results of the study being conducted by the Ontario Research Chair program in Renewable Energy Technologies and Health (ORC-RETH) at the University of Waterloo, funded by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment. 
Those results were in a poster presentation titled, Wind Turbine Noise, Sleep Quality, and Symptoms of Inner Ear Problems presented by Claire Paller, Philip Bigelow, Shannon Majowicz, Jane Law, and Tanya Christidis. We are now in receipt of a PDF of that poster presentation, which we attach to this letter. The highlights are as follows.
 “The relationship between vertigo and ln(distance) was statistically significant (P<0.001) when controlling for age, gender, and county. The relationship between tinnitus and ln(distance) approached statistical significance (P=0.0755). Both vertigo and tinnitus were worse among participants living closer to wind turbines.” [Our emphasis]
And:
In conclusion, relationships were found between ln(distance) and PSQI, ln(distance) and self-reported vertigo and ln(distance) and self-reported tinnitus. Study findings suggest that future research should focus on the effects of wind turbine noise on sleep disturbance and symptoms of inner ear problems.”
While the University of Waterloo’s final report and recommendations have not yet been published, the results at this point indicate that there is question as to whether the  “setback” requirements in Ontario from industrial-scale wind turbines are sufficient to protect the health and safety of Ontario citizens.
As you are aware, sleep disturbance due to environmental noise has been documented as a factor in poor health. In 2011, the World Health Organization published a report on the burden of disease from environmental noise, and concluded: “There is sufficient evidence from large-scale epidemiological studies linking the population’s exposure to environmental noise with adverse health effects. Therefore, environmental noise should be considered not only as a cause of nuisance but also a concern for public health and environmental health.” (WHO, Burden of disease from environmental noise, 2011, page xvii)
In your 2010 literature review, The Potential Health Impact of Wind Turbines, you conclude that “The review also identified that sound measurements at residential areas around wind turbines and comparisons with sound levels around other rural and urban areas, to assess actual ambient noise levels present in Ontario, is a key data gap that could be addressed.” (page 10)
You are also aware of complaints being made about excessive noise to the Ministry of Environment “Spills Line” and other complaints of poor health are being made to health units and municipal councils.
In our view, it is mandatory that the Ontario government, and specifically, the Ministry of the Environment should immediately halt issuing Renewable Energy Approvals for any new wind power generation projects that are less than 10 kilometres from a receptor until the final report is issued by the University.  We also encourage the Health Ministry to take immediate action to ensure the government has the capacity to measure “infrasound” noise and enact strict guidelines to protect the citizens of Ontario.
It is also necessary at this point, based on the Precautionary Principle, if not basic common sense, that the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care immediately call for a moratorium on all wind power generation project approvals, in order to protect the health and safety of Ontario citizens.
Yours sincerely,
Parker Gallant and Jane Wilson
Wind Concerns Ontario
Copied to: Premier Kathleen Wynne, and Minister of Environment Jim Bradley, Leader of the Opposition Tim Hudak

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