Ontario turbine setback A-OK with wind industry-paid physician

Report on Environmental Review Tribunal Hearing on White Pines Wind Project
December 8
On Day 19 the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) of the White Pines wind project heard the testimony of Dr. Robert McCunney, an expert witness for developer WPD.
Robert McCunney, MD, has a Boston clinical practice and is a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.   Funded by the Canadian and American Wind Energy Associations, he headed teams in both 2009 and 2014 that produced status reports such as the recent “Wind Turbines and Health: A Critical Review of the Scientific Literature.”   Though not licensed to practice medicine in Ontario, Dr. McCunney has testified on behalf of the wind industry at other ERT hearings.
The Tribunal qualified Dr. McCunney as “a medical doctor specializing in occupational and environmental medicine, with the particular implications of noise exposure.”
WPD counsel James Wilson asked Dr. McCunney to comment on wind turbine sounds.  He said that noise is characterized by loudness and pitch, low frequency is associated with vibrations, and infrasound is inaudible below 107 db(A).  The last feature also occurs in the natural environment (e.g., wind and waves) and in actions of the human body such as breathing.  Turbine infrasound cannot be distinguished beyond 300m.
Dr. McCunney’s 2014 literature review, based on 162 published papers, concluded that “(1) infrasound sound near wind turbines does not exceed audibility thresholds, (2) epidemiological studies have shown associations between living near wind turbines and annoyance, (3) infrasound and low-frequency sound do not present unique health risks, and (4) annoyance seems more strongly related to individual characteristics than noise from turbines.”   Nothing Dr. McCunney has read since publication changes his opinions.
In cross-examination, APPEC counsel Eric Gillespie established that Dr. McCunney has never treated anyone complaining of turbine-related symptoms or conducted any original field research. Though he lives near a wind turbine, his home is 1500m away.
Mr. Gillespie asked Dr. McCunney to confirm the findings in several studies cited in his literature review that turbine sounds annoyed 7-18 percent of nearby residents.  But Dr. McCunney said this is similar to other environmental noise.  Moreover, he does not accept the concept of “wind turbine syndrome,” in which a number of symptoms are associated with wind turbines and disappear in their absence.
Dr. McCunney was then asked to consider the 2015 Australian Senate inquiry, which received almost 500 worldwide submissions on wind turbine noise.  He said he had not read it, but he was critical of its reliance on a range of unverified reports rather strictly published studies.  He did accept, however, the finding that the “distinction between direct and indirect effects is not helpful.”
Finally, Mr. Gillespie asked at what distance from turbines complaints would cease.  Dr. McCunney expressed confidence in Ontario’s 550m minimum setbacks.
In re-examination WPD’s Wilson asked about sleep anxiety and deprivation, which can lead to serious medical conditions.  Dr. McCunney said no study shows a causal relation between these symptoms and wind turbines.   His 2014 literature review identifies “longitudinal assessments of health pre- and post-installation” and “enhanced measurement techniques to evaluate annoyance”—but not sleep problems—among “further areas of Inquiry.”
Henri Garand, APPEC

What's your reaction?


  • Mike Jankowski
    Posted December 9, 2015 2:29 pm 0Likes

    Dr. McCunney testified at the NRWC ERT as well. At it, he also admitted he has never examined a person living in the environ of large Wind Turbines.
    My experience provides a stark contrast to what Dr. McCunney travels around being paid by our tax dollars to state.
    Dr. McCunney – you need to talk to the people whose efforts to protect their health and wellness you counter.
    MoE&CC – Instead of paying him with our tax dollars to counter us – why don’t you pay him to listen to and examine us. It would be far better discharging of your mandate than what you have been doing. It hints at a possible cover-up that you continue in opposition.
    Truly, people are the first to know about their health and wellness, not a person hundreds of kilometers away who has not studied people’s reports first hand. When will this crime cease perpetuation? What will it take?
    Greetings all,

  • Barbara
    Posted December 9, 2015 3:36 pm 0Likes

    When you look at the bibliographies of IWT “health studies” you find circular citations. That is, they use one another’s “research” papers over and over to produce different “papers”.

    • Barbara
      Posted December 9, 2015 11:13 pm 0Likes

      When reading studies, articles, whatever you need to look at the footnotes and the references. Most people think that the body of a study paper is the only important thing which is not true.

  • Grant
    Posted December 9, 2015 10:16 pm 0Likes

    An acoustician can identify infrasound from a wind turbine several kms away. It has a distinct pulsation that can be matched to the frequency of the blades passing the tower.

    • Mike Jankowski
      Posted December 10, 2015 12:53 pm 0Likes

      … and the Blade Pass Frequency harmonics. I have seen what this looks like.
      I see problems with how this is handled today;
      1. Of course, MoE&CC protections discard all infrasound which includes the BPF and harmonics.
      2. Communities and Wind Action groups are often not monitoring long enough and they are depending completely upon contractrors which is costly.
      To improve this, we are trying to raise money to buy proper equipment and have it monitored by a professional when required. Such equipment must be able to conduct narrow bandwidth analysis to expose the Wind Turbine Signature, which starts with the Blade Pass Frequency as you noted. It must also capture multiple channels of activity at once, so there is less potential to question what is observed.
      Keeping at it!

  • Tom
    Posted December 9, 2015 11:41 pm 0Likes

    It is hard for a man to tell the truth when his paycheck depends on him not doing so.

  • Tracy
    Posted December 10, 2015 5:46 am 0Likes

    The tribunal is a farce. Get to a real court, under oath. McCunney and his play on words is a liar. As Mike said, stop paying these people with our tax dollars. McClunney obviously is told to say. Add him to the list of criminals who should be in jail.
    Where is McGuinty these days? Has he run away again?

    • Barbara
      Posted December 10, 2015 9:52 am 0Likes

      If you had a guy such as Pickens looking into your affairs, you just might want to disappear too?

  • Greg Latiak
    Posted December 10, 2015 10:32 am 0Likes

    I love the way these folks define causal connections. Its like defining sunburn as the sun reaching out and hitting the person… just light exposure won’t do it… Very few people are struck by wind turbines… Amazing how everyone who stands to profit from a thing are SURE there are no bad effects or side effects from it… tobacco, insecticides, food additives… the list is endless.

Add Comment

© Copyright 2022 | WCO | Wind Concerns Ontario

to top