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Ontario’s Great Windpower Escape: A Setback Only

[Sherri Lange's previous reports on the Ontario wind siting battles are "Wind’s Political Trouble in Ontario (Secretive Samsung deal, power rates at issue)' from May 11 and Ontario Update: Offshore Wind Moratorium Decision Hangs Tough, Onshore BAU Targetedfrom April 8.]

In an Elvis-has-left-the-building-but-might-be-coming-back kind of moment, the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) in Ontario announced to that the Kent Breeze turbine project could continue. The appellants failed in this instance to prove that there would be “serious” health effects posed by the project, ERT determined.

The Tribunal did leave the doors open for future challenges, however. And not all is lost: this project was the first ever public legal challenge based on health and safety concerns.

Expect victories in the future. On the heels of this pro-wind decision that despaired many around the world tuned into this legal challenge, came Carl Phillips’ release of an epidemiological study: there are very real and verifiable health consequences for living too near turbines.

More significantly, the publication of a whole peer-reviewed journal, with ten lines of evidence, from the likes of Dr Robert McMurtry, Order of Canada; retired Pharmacologist, Carmen Krogh; Alec Salt; Bob Thorne; Martin Shain; and John Harrison, has put health consequences in the middle of the wind power siting debate. (The special edition on turbine effects and human health is here.)

Dead Zones from Industrial Wind

Cutting swaths of lands in agricultural areas, creating obvious pressures on human health as well as dead zones for wildlife in Ontario is eerily similar to the naturally incongruous and many Danes would say “illegal” aspects of ripping apart Crown Forests.

Here in Østerild & Hjardemål Plantation, protesters have occupied a sacred forest where 550 hectares are slated for destruction.This is also an important bird migration route and National Cultural Area. A newly formed local association, The Association for an Improved Environment, claims that political expediency outstripped common democracy.

The government’s decision came after only eleven days of hearings re the environmental and social impacts, nine of those days being a National Holiday. The Association has called for a more vigorous examination of the consequences of forest culling in this area. (Denmark is home to over 6000 turbines, using 50% more coal than 25 years ago, and with the highest power rates in Europe as well as the second highest CO2 level.)

The story in Denmark is also a failure to protect, a failure of social and environmental justice. For more on Danish wind as a whole, click here.

Below is the news release jointed issued this week by European Platform Against Windfarms (EPAW) and European Platform Against Windfarms and and North American Platform Against Wind (NAPAW). There is now a fortified effort between Europe and North America, with EPAW’s CEO Mark Duchamp reaching into Asia as well.

Can Ignorance Continue?

The movement to expose the realities of turbine hell is well under way. That the compilation of health effects, combined with irrefutable and sadly mounting evidence of massive bird kills, habitat loss, wildly exaggerated claims (false claims) of “green’ jobs and renewed economic vigor, will shortly have a crippling impact on the ability of wind producers to continue on their merry windy way.

But with the government running out of money, and human needs now competing for the tax dollar with children and the aged, industrial wind developers must know that their bubble is about to burst.

——————-

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 25, 2011

Joint release by:

TORONTO WIND ACTION,

THE NORTH AMERICAN PLATFORM AGAINST WINDPOWER (NA-PAW),

THE EUROPEAN PLATFORM AGAINST WINDFARMS (EPAW)

International dismay at results of Ontario wind turbine ruling…

…but new scientific breakthrough vindicates windfarm victims worldwide. 

_____________________________________________________________

Reactions came on the heels of an Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) decision that the Kent Breeze wind farm project in Ontario may proceed because there will be no “serious” harm to human health. This ruling came out despite lengthy arguments presented by an illustrious group of physicians and acousticians and other technical experts. 

In Ontario Dr Robert McMurtry, a distinguished member of the Order of Canada is often sought out as an expert, having held various senior positions in public health administrations. At the ERT proceedings, he testified in favor of windfarm victims. Recently, he wrote to NA-PAW: “I remain dismayed at the failure of any government to do the requisite research to establish either the safety or utility of Industrial Wind Turbines (IWT). There are better and fairer solutions to combat Green House Gases. For rural people in Ontario there is no safe place where they can be assured of freedom from IWT. I have not and will not express an opinion on a judicial process. I am not anti-wind, I am pro-health. The problem is IWTs are being put far too close to people.”

 “Windfarm victims have contacted me”, says Sherri Lange, CEO of NA-PAW, the North American Platform Against Windpower, “Ontarians as well as others from around the world. They are dismayed, if not completely despaired by the ERT decision.”

Jutta Reichardt, from Germany, wrote to NA-PAW about her ordeal. She has lived near wind turbines for more than 16 years, some as close as 320 metres from her home, and literally surrounded by 122 others. She experiences “cardiac rhythm disorders, sleep deprivation, high blood pressure, kidney damage, different tinnitus sounds, nausea and dizziness, angina pectoris, palpitations, ear pressure, and VAD [vibroacoustic disease] ulcers in the mouth … And for some months [I have suffered from] a follicular non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in my mucous membranes.” She and her husband both suffer in their health, and spend much of their time at the hospital for treatment. It is a “living hell”, and nobody will buy their house. “This is our personal ‘circus’ ”, she wrote, in reference to an outrageous remark made to other windfarm victims, Julian and Jane.

Jane and Julian Davis, in the UK, were recently victims of a slur when their opponent declared in court that they were part of “an anti-wind farm circus”. (1) Jane and Julian are suing the windfarm owner because they have had to abandon their home. They tracked their insomnia and other health disorders to noise and infra-sound from a wind farm located 930 meters from their house. Jane’s daily log of their problems is accessible on line, and covers the period from summer 2006 to summer 2007. (2)

Dr Sarah Laurie from Australia wrote to NA-PAW saying: “it is so very hard for people to speak out, and takes enormous personal courage … Not everyone can speak out — everyone’s circumstances are different. That is why this industry is able to keep doing what it is doing, hiding behind a cloak of ‘but there are no complaints’. But increasingly in Australia, the climate has changed, and more people are speaking out, and I am sure they would be happy to do so if they thought it would also help people internationally.” Dr Laurie’s work with Victims of Wind is known worldwide.

Ironically, on July 19th, on the heels of the Ontario announcement, US-based Populi Health Institute director Carl Phillips released his peer-reviewed assessment of the validity of wind turbine health complaints. It states unequivocally: “There is overwhelming evidence that wind turbines cause serious health problems in nearby residents, usually stress-disorder type diseases, at a nontrivial rate. The bulk of the evidence takes the form of thousands (our emphasis) of adverse event reports.” (Epidemiologic Evidence for Health Effects from Wind Turbines, Bulletin of Science, Technology, and Society, Vol. 31, no. 4, August 2011). Nine more scientific papers on windfarm-related health problems are published in the same edition (3). It is a scientific breakthrough.

Professor Phillips’ work is further corroborated by anterior research from US-based physician Nina Pierpont, MD, PhD, which has been publicized in her world-acclaimed book, The Wind Turbine Syndromewww.windturbinesyndrome.com  

The universal reporting of ill health is a fact that wind farm developers and their political allies have tried to deny all along. This is no longer possible, say TWA, NA-PAW and EPAW, speaking in the name of windfarm victims: “The Tribunal’s decision is not sitting well with those who have worked hard to bring the health issue to the surface, nor with those living in turbine hell. We now have peer-reviewed science to prove their point.”

Few people have better knowledge of the anguish felt by windfarm victims than retired Canadian pharmacologist Carmen Krogh. Two of her articles were peer-reviewed and published in the scientific journal mentioned above (Bulletin of Science, Technology, and Society, Vol. 31, no. 4, August2011) .  She wrote to Sherri Lange: “While the adverse health effects are severe enough that a significant number of families have abandoned their homes, the loss of social justice has caused additional grief and distress. People say they welcomed Industrial Wind Turbines into their community and the negative consequences were unexpected. There is an emotional and physical toll from the individuals’ health related symptoms, loss of enjoyment of homes and property, disturbed living conditions, financial loss, and the lack of society’s recognition of their situation. These negative impacts combined with a loss of social justice, represent a serious degradation of health in accordance with commonly accepted definitions of health as defined by the World Health Organization and the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion.”

Sherri Lange recently visited Bruce Huron Counties in Ontario and heard firsthand stories of electrical pollution, a home burned likely due to a power surge, livestock that had to be moved out of the area, accounts of “pending agricultural ecological disaster” as one farmer expressed it, and anguishing stories of ill health. People cannot sleep in their homes. These often become receptacles or amplifiers for the turbines’ infrasound, and have to be insulated against surges of “dirty electricity” (4). The list of complaints includes ringing ears (tinnitus), ear pressure, headaches, cardiac arrhythmias, sleep disorders, stress, depression, and a sense of hopelessness. “To have the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) emerge with this denial decision after the lengthy detailing of health problems by expert witnesses in sound and paths to disease, and having been there personally during several days hearing them as well as the concluding remarks by lawyer Eric Gillespie, I find the decision nothing short of astonishing,” Lange said.

Last week inScotland, a young bullock was found dead in a field near a wind turbine. The autopsy revealed “hemorrhaging around the heart, a possible sign of electrocution”. (5) Stray voltage can do this to animals — and to humans as well.

In 2009, the BBC reported that a farmer inTaiwanhad lost more than 400 goats due to the proximity of wind turbines. (6)

Mark Duchamp, CEO of the European Platform against Windfarms (EPAW), tells us that the European authorities haven’t done their homework either: “As happens with other ill effects of wind turbines, governments are happy to swallow what they are told by the wind industry, hook, line and sinker. They don’t do independent research. Everything they say or write is biased in favour of developers. As a result, the wind industry has a free hand to play God with the health of rural Europeans, and with biodiversity. This will have consequences of catastrophic proportions,” he warns.

It is no different in Ontario, adds Lange:  “When you have an emergency, such as wind turbine havoc across the province, and the authorities turn a blind eye and allow the abuse to continue, then the system is seriously broken.” She concludes: “It is a serious case of social and environmental injustice. The elections are near: Ontarians will know what to do.” 

(1) “Anti-wind farm circus” slur: http://www.spaldingtoday.co.uk/news/wind_turbines_high_court_hearing_julian_davis_claims_anti_wind_farm_circus_suggestion_is_typical_of_his_family_s_treatment_1_2875020

(2) Jane Davis log: http://www.windaction.org/documents/14202  

(3) http://bst.sagepub.com/content/current  Bulletin of Science, Technology, and Society, Vol. 31, no. 4, August 2011

(4) “Dirty electricity” or electricity pollution: http://www.dirtyelectricity.org/health-issues.shtml

(5) Bullock electrocuted  http://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/Article.aspx/2357094

(6) Death of 400 goats  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8060969.stm

7 comments

1 James Gould { 08.04.11 at 8:37 pm }

I live on Amherst Island, part of the thousand Isalnds. We have the owl woods, international known for the most owls in southern Ontario. Algonquin power is preparing to construct 40 massive turbines next year. Tis will be the end of the owls.

What more can I say?

2 Catherine Bayne { 08.05.11 at 3:49 pm }

“There is overwhelming evidence that wind turbines cause serious health problems in nearby residents, usually stress-disorder-type diseases, at a nontrivial rate…There has been no policy analysis that justifies imposing these effects on local residents. The attempts to deny the evidence cannot be seen as honest scientific disagreement and represent either gross incompetence or intentional bias.” (Properly Interpreting the Epidemiologic Evidence About the Health Effects of Industrial Wind Turbines on Nearby Residents (Abstract) Carl V. Phillips, Bulletin of Science Technology & Society 2011 31: 303 DOI: 10.1177/0270467611412554))

Could be BOTH incompetence and intentional bias…stupidity and greed frequently accompany each other.

Since a practically guaranteed route to corruption is paved with too much money, governments which offer too-rich subsidies are guilty of perverting the course of science and as a consequence, environmental justice.

Good that Phillips does not mince words.

3 Sherri Lange { 08.05.11 at 3:59 pm }

The media release from EPAW (European Platform Against Windfarms) and NA-PAW (North American Platform Against Wind) can be read in full here:

http://www.epaw.org/documents.php?lang=es

Well worth the read for those engaged in the widening circle of international outrage.

Thanks, Catherine, for your comments. What needs to yet be unfolded as you so rightly point out, is that “guaranteed road to corruption. This is not merely an Ontario phenomenon. What is shocking is that the “green pablum” has been the diet of basically well intentioned hydro consumers, has lasted this long.

4 Mark Duchamp { 08.05.11 at 7:17 pm }

Already, two bird species are facing extinction because of windfarms: the Tasmanian Wedge-tailed Eagle and the Whooping Crane. Others that may soon follow include: the Superb Parrot and the Orange-bellied Parrot in Australia, the white-tailed eagle in Scotland, Denmark, Sweden, Germany and Norway, the golden eagle in the UK, Spain, and the United States, the Red Kite in Europe, etc.

The new, ever more laxist guidelines of the US Fish and Wildlife Service regarding wind farms actually pave the way for an ecological genocide. Read what STEI said about them here:
http://www.canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/39126

5 Catherine Bayne { 08.05.11 at 7:34 pm }

http://www.meyerglitz.com/non-litigation-advocacy.html
under Wind Power/Congressional Testimony click for pdf
see page 4 for insight on problems with MBTA and BGEPA

6 Sherri Lange { 08.05.11 at 7:34 pm }

James, we are all extremely conscious of the Amherst Island situation. The area is SACRED. I am positive that the First Nations will have something to say shortly about this possible desecration. Hold tight.

There are elections on October 6th.

7 Suzanne Albright { 08.05.11 at 8:49 pm }

As an American who has traveled to the Amherst Island area by boat extensively over the past 25 years, I am horrified to think that Ontario would allow the inevitable avian and ecosystem devastation that will occur if a windfarm is constructed there. What has Ontario not learned from Wolfe Island? Nearly 2,000 bird and bat carcasses were counted there, including about 33 species (some endangered) during the first 8 months of operation. Is animal and avian life no longer of value? Why would anyone choose to turn such a paradise into an industrial graveyard? The facts surrounding this issue have been clearly stated by Sherri Lange, Mark Duchamp, Catherine Bayne and other passionate and brilliant thinkers. It is time to listen.

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