Wind turbine failures “potentially serious,” need action for safety: municipal group

Skyway 8 turbine failed in July 2021. See debris to the left, including huge blade shard. Host municipalities are concerned about safety, and want regulations revised. [Photo: Louise Morfitt-Hall]

Wind farm approvals given by McGuinty and Wynne governments with no input from host communities: “mistakes were made”

January 19, 2022

The special interest task force created by a group on Ontario municipalities where wind power projects are operating has released a report to all Ontario municipalities. The report expresses concern about wind turbine failures and the apparent lack of government action. The Multi-Municipal Wind Turbine Working Group prepared the report and sent it to other municipalities a few weeks ago.

The document has information on  six “catastrophic failures” as engineers term them, that have occurred in Ontario, as well as the failure of a single turbine in New Brunswick. That event resulted in the wind “farm” operator undertaking a $100-million replacement of all turbine foundations.

The Working Group is concerned that there are no details available on the failures.

“There has been no public response from the provincial government that indicates these potentially serious incidents are being investigated, either in the context of public and/or workplace safety,” the report says.

Municipalities, even those where incidents have occurred, have received no information.

The Working Group consulted with several engineers and conducted its own review of the wind turbine failures. It appears there was a different cause for each event, i.e., no common factor in the equipment failures.

  • Bow River –Pictures suggest that tower collapse was linked to a bolt failure of tower sections.
  • Skyway 8 – Rotor failure occurred shortly after the installation of an experimental device.
  • Raleigh Wind – Published information from the project owner indicates that the tower collapse is related to a single blade failure. Marks on the tower suggest that the blade struck the tower.
  • Sumac Ridge – Blade fractures, no explanation available.
  • Kingsbridge 1 – Fire in the nacelle spread to the blades resulting in wide debris scatter.
  • Huron Wind – Blade failure with the location of the debris thrown by this failure highlighting the inadequacy of current setbacks from property lines.

Another recent incident in New Brunswick added to concerns, the group said:

  • Kent Hills, NB – Project operator linked the collapse of tower to a foundation failure.

The Working Group concluded: “the assessments of these situations increased our concern that action is required to formally investigate these incidents.  We believe they clearly demonstrate that the current setback distances are inadequate to protect the public and they will increase as tower heights and blade lengths increase.”

The Working Group recommended that the Ontario government:

  1. Establish a formal public process for investigations of wind turbine failures so that the cause can be firmly determined. These would involve third-party independent engineers starting with initial inspection procedures through to the public release of the final report;
  2. Complete comprehensive inspections of existing projects to identify any project that shows signs of similar weaknesses;
  3. Establish requirements for on-board predictive maintenance equipment for operating wind turbines to allow early identification of problems and establish protocols for information transfer to the MECP for review and sharing with the host municipality.
  4. Review the emergency response procedures submitted by the proponents of wind turbine projects as part of the approval process to ensure that the plans are current and responsive to the types of failures being experienced; and
  5. Increase the setbacks from property lines to a minimum of tower height plus blade length for new towers or repowering of existing sites to at least reflect the impact of a tower collapse while recognizing additional distances would be required to protect against ice throw and debris scatter like that seen in the Huron Wind failure where debris with the dimensions of a car were found 2.5 times the height of the tower plus blade length.

At the time the wind power projects were approved by the McGuinty and Wynne governments, municipalities had limited input to the process and to the details of the projects including setbacks from roadways and homes.

“Mistakes were made,” the Working Group says.

The Multi-Municipal Wind Turbine Working Group is asking all municipalities to write to David Piccini, minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks for Ontario to ask that action be taken for safety.

Wind Concerns Ontario, a coalition of community groups, families and individuals concerned about the negative impacts of grid-scale wind power projects, agrees with the recommendations.

“We have been urging the government to revise all the regulations pertaining to wind turbines,” says president Jane Wilson. “Ontario’s regulations were implemented in 2009 and have not been changed since then—we know a lot more about the noise emissions and the safety risk. We need change right now.”

Read the MMWTWG report here: MMWTWG Report on IWT failures

A story also appeared in the Dundalk Herald/Toronto Star on this issue.

contact@ windconcernsontario.ca

 

 

Ontario Ground Water Association busts wind turbine myth

Source: Ontario Groundwater Association

January 17, 2022

As dozens of families in North Kent, Ontario wait for a Ministry of Health report on why their water is black and gritty–and has been for years since a wind turbine project was built–the Ontario Groundwater Association has come out with a myth-busting statement today:

Wind turbines stir up sediment and release impurities into groundwater resources.

That’s not what the wind power developer in North Kent says; that’s not what the Medical Officer of Health for Chatham-Kent says (he has testified on behalf of wind power developers at Environmental Review Tribunals, delivered a paper on how it isn’t possible for wind turbines to have anything to do with water quality, and claimed the water is safe to drink), and the Ontario Ministry of Environment doesn’t appear particularly concerned about it, either.

Dr. David Colby maintains that the water, though discoloured, is not a health hazard:

“The Health Unit only tests for bacteriologic contamination. Black shale is a kind of naturally occurring rock. Rock can contain metals and other potentially toxic substances in its inorganic matrix. The toxicity is determined not by what the shale contains but rather by how much of the toxic substances are absorbed by the body,” Colby said. “Inorganic materials like rock particles, sand and dirt are not significantly digested, and if ingested, pass through the digestive tract without releasing much, if any, of their toxic content,” he told The Chatham Voice in 2018.

This Friday will be the one-year anniversary of the Ontario government announcement of an expert panel review on the North Kent water situation. A year that dozens of families, estimated to be about 80 homes and farms, have had to wait, meanwhile using water out of giant plastic tanks in their garages, and employing multiple filters in systems so that water even comes out of the tap.

The other myth that needs busting, one the environment ministry accepts without question, is that nothing bad can happen outside of 1500 meters from a wind turbine. Not audible noise, not infrasound, not seismic vibrations–nothing.

Nonsense of course.

Time for some reality around the negative effects of grid-scale wind turbines. Time for clean water, and quiet.

contact@windconcernsontario.ca

Unfiltered water in North Kent. Residents blame the wind turbines. [Supplied photo]

Wind power industry like Big Tobacco: they know there are health effects, says physician

 

The wind power industry knows there are problems with their product, says Dr Alun Evans

January 2, 2022

In an editorial in the current edition of Environmental Disease journal, Dr Alun Evans, prominent physician and cardiologist, says it is past time for governments to act to protect the health of those forced to live near wind turbines.

He compares the developers of wind turbines to the manufacturers and marketers of tobacco who, decades ago, claimed there were no health impacts from smoking cigarettes, even while the industry knew there was.

He cites a letter written the turbine manufacturers Vestas with a query as to why the turbines cannot be made more safe:

In 2011, a letter written by the CEO of the Danish wind turbine manufacturer, Vestas, to the Danish Environment Minister, which was leaked and translated, asked why it was:[15]

…that Vestas does not just make changes to the wind turbines so that they make less noise? The simple answer is that at the moment it is simply not possible to do so, and it requires time and resources because presently we are at the forefront of what is technically possible for our large wind turbines, and they are the most efficient of all.

It seems that, in common with the tobacco industry, the wind industry was well aware that its products were inimical to health. The introduction of larger turbines is also problematic because the larger the turbines, the more noise they produce.[16]

Evans’ editorial refers to a paper published recently by a group of Ontario-based authors including Dr. Robert McMurtry, which states that the well known public health criteria developed by Dr Austin Bradford Hill ought to be applied to the study of wind turbine noise impacts. Instead, he says, governments continue to look for a simple cause and effect relationship.

Doing that means governments are abdicating their responsibility to citizens.

“We still have a long way to go to adequately protect people’s health from the impact of wind farm noise,” he concludes.

 

[JOURNAL_FULL_NAME]

“There’s no going back”: CBC radio documentary on huge Shetland Islands wind power project

December 6, 2021

CBC Radio program The Current aired a documentary called “Winds of Change” this morning, that told the story of how the residents of the Shetland Islands in Scotland have been fighting a huge wind power project.

The Viking power project (it’s not a “farm”) is now under construction, and among the environmental concerns residents have is the destruction of fragile peatlands, which play a major role in the environment (and actually serve as a carbon sink). The wind power developer response? It was in bad shape, we’re actually fixing it.

Other preposterous claims made include the fact that the turbines will take up only one square kilometre of land (that’s if you assume 1 acre per turbine–also false–and that they will be bunched together–false), lots of jobs (False) and environmental benefit (also false, on balance).

This is a tragedy. As one resident said about the peatlands, “We’re talking about an entire ecosystem being dug up.”

Another despaired of what the industrial-sale power project will do the the beautiful Shetland Isles: “Once it’s done, there’s no going back.”

Peat landslides have already occurred at the construction site, as a result of “poor management practices” by the developer, according to a news report.

Listen to the CBC Radio documentary here

And view a video of the location of the power project here, provided by citizens’ group Save Our Shetland.

https://fb.watch/9JW57z_Ppi/

Host of The Current, matt Galloway, appears not to have listened to the documentary featured on his own show because after it concluded, he announced that Wednesday’s show would feature more ideas on How we can save our planet. Clearly, wind power is not the answer when environmental destruction is the result.

 

“High probability” of serious health effects from wind turbine noise emissions, say researchers

Government and public health authorities have failed to protect health, say researchers in a new paper published in Environmental Disease journal

 

Home in Huron County surrounded by turbines [Photo Gary Moon for WCO]
October 24, 2021

Wind power developers and their government supporters have long claimed that there is “no proof” of a link between wind turbine noise emissions and poor health. Yet concerns persist around the world, and there are many people who claim to have had their lives and health adversely affected by being forced to live near the wind power generators.

A new research paper published last week in the Environmental Disease journal concludes that “exposure to IWTs [industrial wind turbines] is associated with an increased risk of AHEs [Adverse Health Effects]. The analysis concludes that living or working near IWTs can result in AHEs in both people and animals.”

The paper addresses the fact that despite many thousands of complaints about noise and health effects around the world, research as yet to conclude a causal relationship between wind turbine noise and poor health. The authors employ a series of criteria developed by famed epidemiologist and statistician Sir Austin Bradford Hill in order to answer that question.

The result? The criteria for establishing a cause and effect relationship were met and the conclusion can be made that “exposure to IWTs is associated with an increased risk” of adverse health effects.

The authors cite studies from all around the world, including Shepherd in New Zealand, the Bridgewater study in Australian and numerous others, as well as papers produced by Wind Concerns Ontario on noise complaints filed with the Ontario government. One study was completed by two acoustics experts who became ill themselves while studying the noise emissions from a wind power project in the United States.

Most noise studies do not accurately measure wind turbine noise

“The vast majority of studies of sound from wind turbines do not accurately measure the presence of LFN [low frequency noise] or infrasound,” the authors said. “This failure of public health authorities and governments to monitor the impact of LFN and infrasound on exposed individuals impedes the proper interpretation of results and is not consistent with the WHO [World Health Organization] report “Guidelines for Community Noise’ that states: ‘When prominent low-frequency components are present, noise measures based on A-weighting are inappropriate’.”

A failure of government and public health authorities

The authors say with the “growing weight of evidence” and the “rapid proliferation of IWT installations globally” it is time for governments to act to protect public health.

“Preventive action should be taken and policies implemented that are more cautiously protective of public health, safety and welfare,” the authors conclude.

“More stringent regulation is needed to recognize, monitor, analyze, and document effects on the health of local residents and animals.”

More effective and precautionary setback distances should also be employed.

In Ontario, the regulations governing the approval and monitoring of industrial-scale wind turbines has not changed since 2009, and many aspects of the regulations still in force today were dictated to previous governments by the wind power lobby, including setback distances.

A statement by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health published in 2010 also has not been revised (though an update was developed in 2014 but never published). It continues to be used by Ontario medical officers of health as “proof” that there is no link between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects, despite thousands of records of complaints held by the environment ministry.

contact@windconcernsontario.ca

 

Citizen noise complaints spur public health investigation at Nation Rise

Taking matters into their own hands: a North Stormont resident measures turbine noise above regulated levels [Submitted photo]
October 8, 2021

People living in the Finch-Berwick-Crysler areas of North Stormont began filing complaints about noise from the wind turbines in the 29-turbine Nation Rise power project well before it was commissioned in July.

As the turbines were being tested and run intermittently, there were complaints about noise, sound pressure and vibration, and reports of headache, feelings of pressure in the head and chest, and sleepless, fitful nights.

A resident living near Crysler wrote to Wind Concerns Ontario in March with this report:

Today I woke up at 5 am and got out of bed. Soon after I started to feel  nauseous and dizzy. I became hot and sweaty and felt so unwell that I had to lie down on the floor for 15 minutes. I got up then felt chilled and had pressure in my chest.  I was able to go back to bed and woke up a few hours later. I felt better and noticed 5 of the 6 turbines around my home were now not turning.

He added that when he left his home for a period of time, all his symptoms vanished. He is now in the care of a cardiologist.

Yesterday, a local newspaper reported that the Ontario government has launched an investigation into the noise complaints and reports of adverse health effects at Nation Rise.

This is a hopeful sign but if Ontario continues to use its outdated and ineffective noise measurement protocol, it will not be serving the interests of residents, or solving the problem.

As we have documented for the government many times, the entire regulatory process for wind turbines needs to be revised, and soon.

In the meantime, we encourage people to keep filing complaints, and to report adverse health effects to their physician and local health unit.

To report wind turbine noise, or any other effect thought to be connected to turbine operations, please call 1-866-MOE-TIPS or use the online reporting tool, here: Report Pollution | Ontario.ca (gov.on.ca)

 

contact@windconcernsontario.ca

 

 

Latest wind turbine fail raises questions about Ontario regulations, safety

SPLAT! Catastrophic failure of turbine at Bow Lake Photo: Sault Online)

September 2, 2021

The failure of a wind turbine at the Bow Lake wind power facility near Sault Ste. Marie is raising questions about safety around the giant industrial structures and current Ontario regulations.

The collapse of the Bow Lake turbine is being investigated by the power facility operator, BluEarth Renewables, and there were no injuries associated with the event. However, as can be seen from the photo of the debris field, it is worth questioning what might have happened if the collapse had occurred on a farm property in southern Ontario.

Interviewed for the story in Sault Online , engineer Bill Palmer said “this incident is the 10th wind turbine failure in Ontario that has put the blades (and in this case all three of the 50 metre long blades for the failed turbine) onto the ground… this is the second collapse of a very similar GE wind turbine and the 6th case in Ontario in which GE turbines have put blades on the ground”.

Palmer has published numerous academic papers and appeared at international conferences on wind turbines and health and safety. He noted that his personal experience with a turbine failure showed that debris was flung more than 500 metres.

The Ontario regulation for setback between a wind turbine and a roadway or right of way is currently blade length plus 10 metres. In the case of the Nation Rise power project for example, that would be 79 metres or just 259 feet.

Just two months ago, a turbine failed in Southgate, just west of Toronto. The roadway nearby was closed for a week. No conclusions of the investigation into the event have been published to date.

“People who have never seen an actual modern wind turbine and who are familiar only with images from the wind power developers’ lobby group may not understand that these are industrial structures,” says Jane Wilson, president of Wind Concerns Ontario. “We are calling for an update to Ontario’s regulations for these power generators, for both safety and health. The current regulations are unchanged from 2009 and the McGuinty government, despite the fact turbines are growing more massive every year.

With the City of Ottawa calling for the installation of wind turbines as part of a Net Zero emissions strategy, more turbines could be on the way for Ontario.

“Government needs to act, now,” Wilson says.

Source: Wm Palmer PEng, published in Sault Online

 

The Green Energy Act is not gone

As long as old regulations for wind turbine noise and setbacks remain unchanged in Ontario, anger is not going anywhere

Why people are still angry: noise complaints and other problems still not dealt with in Ontario [Photo: D. Larsen for WCO]
September 1, 2021

Former Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is reported to have said of citizens objecting to wind power projects in 2009: “They can’t stay mad forever”.

But, it seems they can.

Writer Tom Van Dusen explores this in the August 24 edition of Ontario Farmer and asks, why, when the Nation Rise power project has been approved and is now operating, after lost citizen appeals and even a court case, is the opposition to the project just as strong?

Why aren’t people just accepting of the 29 giant turbines, and getting on with their lives?

Why indeed?

Appeal process was a sham

For one thing, there is the sense of injustice about it all. Almost every single wind power project was appealed, before 2009 to the Ontario Municipal Board and after, when the Green Energy Act prescribed an appeal process before the Environmental Review Tribunal. Legal writers have described the task of appeal as almost impossible to win, the way the rules were set up. Instead of power developers having to prove there would be no harm, citizens, with limited time and resources, had to prove there would be.

Birds killed? Sure, Ontario said, but turbines would have to kill so many that entire species would be wiped out. Impossible. (Except when it came to turtles…)

A recent academic paper showed that “the people were not wrong” in their concerns about the dangers to people and the environment that led them to take action. Many of the risks they foresaw in the power development proposals have actually become reality.

Among those, noise is paramount. The Ontario government now has about 7,000 formal complaint records called incident Reports dating back to 2006. There appears to be no process in which these records are collected and submitted to the environment ministry for review, analysis and action. They stay in the District Offices until asked for (which we do, every year.) There are families in Ontario who have been complaining about noise for five years and more—there is no effective response.

The Green Energy Act is not gone

The Green Energy Act may have been repealed in Ontario but the Regulation that governs noise limits and setbacks, Regulation 359/09, still exists, unchanged from 2009.

The Renewable Energy Approval process is likewise unchanged; if there were to be another rush for wind power (like the City of Ottawa is proposing as “local” power), the process will not save anyone from being invaded by huge turbines that will make noise, produce vibration and sound pressure, and will affect wildlife.

Disturbed water wells are another concern: dozens of families in North Kent are awaiting the results of a public health investigation into why their wells, some operating for decades without problems, suddenly stopped working after construction began on a wind power project.

Developers claim that griping “non-participating” landowners are just jealous of the lease fees. It’s true that it is tough when they see leaseholders driving around in new trucks, said one Nation Rise resident. But the reason it’s tough is because their actions left other property owners with homes that have lost value, and are perhaps not even sellable.

Opposition to wind turbine projects continues around the world, and is growing in the U.S. where some states (New York) are actually forcing through legislation to steamroll over local opposition. And there is opposition, with key states being Illinois, Michigan, New York and Vermont, to name a few.

Mr. McGuinty was wrong: we CAN stay mad forever…and we will until there is justice for the unwilling neighbours of industrial wind power projects.

 

Jane Wilson

President

Wind Concerns Ontario

What needs to happen:

  • REVISE Regulation 359/09 with new setback distances and noise limits

  • Revise Renewable Energy Approval process to reflect reality of wind turbine noise emissions

  • Revise and update 2010 Chief Medical Officer of Health statement on wind turbine noise and health

 

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And Twitter @windconcernsONT

 

A living hell: one family’s wind turbine noise story

Brookfield Comber, seen October 2020 (supplied photo)

Just move—or maybe get tubes in your ears, family told by government officers

April 23, 2021

Among the desperate complaint documents provided to us following a request for Ontario wind turbine noise complaint records under Freedom of Information legislation is correspondence from one family that lives inside the Brookfield Comber project.

On the advice of their lawyer, they now file reports of excessive noise and adverse effects once a month, and they keep a daily log.

For the month of April 2018, this was their record:

  • 24 days the noise level was high pitched to unbearable high pitched
  • 4 days were medium pitched
  • 2 days were low and bearable

They concluded their report that month with “[redacted] noise inside your head 24/7 whenever the turbines are running … trying to live a normal life in your own home is not possible.” The described the noise on one complaint as being like “a dentist’s drill.”

TWO DAYS of the month were “bearable.” Just two.

May that year was a slightly better month for the family. Slightly.

The report:

  • 25 days the noise levels inside our home were high pitched to unbearable high pitched sound
  • 2 days were medium pitched
  • 4 were low bearable days.

Did they get any help from the power operator or the environment ministry? Here’s what the record says, in an email dated June, 2018:

“Following a letter we wrote to Mr Glenn Murray [then Minister of environment], we have been dealing with them [the then MOECC] concerning the Wind Turbine Infrasound we have been experiencing inside our home since 2012. …. After lengthy conversations, with two members of that office [Windsor] we were told our symptoms were that of infrasound but because the Ministry of Health does not consider that a health problems their hands were tied. Since then and after an Officer attended our home on January 19, 2018 and suggested perhaps we just just move, or get tubes in our ears to ease the pressure, they have now refused to acknowledge our monthly reports on the noise levels we are experiencing.”

FACT: the Renewable Energy Approvals granted to wind power projects in Ontario require that the project operators identify and resolve the cause for each complaint about emissions from their project.

FACT: It is beyond the scope of Ontario Environmental Officers to be telling people what surgical procedures to have.

FACT: It is the job of the Environmental Officers to receive and record complaints received from Ontario citizens about wind turbines.

Wind turbine noise reports missing

The family has since told Wind Concerns Ontario that in 2018, they filed a total of 26 reports of excessive noise/vibration/pressure; in answer to our Freedom of Information request, we received NINE.

This system is beyond broken, it was badly set up and a sham to begin with.

Ontario is dealing with the worst of the pandemic right now to be sure, but steps must be taken to fix this, and Ontario’s environment officers must do their jobs.

contact@windconcernsontario.ca

Don’t stop calling: to report wind turbine noise, effects on water wells, harm to wildlife, adverse health effects, call

1-866-MOE-TIPS. And be sure to get an Incident Report number.

For more on the 2018 complaint record documents, read our report: Report on Noise Complaint Response 2018-FINAL

To email the environment ministry using their standard form, go to: Government of Ontario