The following letter has been adapted from one sent to the Office of the Ombudsman of Ontario, on November 28, 2016, by Sherri Lange, CEO North American Platform Against Wind Power (NA-PAW). The second part of the letter will be posted tomorrow and the third part on Friday.
Dear Ombudsman Dube, Deputy Ombudsman Finlay, Mr. Pomerant, and Ms. Driscoll:
Please accept our appreciation for the investigation by your good office into numerous complaints over the years, concerning the health, economic, environmental, and legal/judicial degradation resulting from the proliferation of industrial wind in Ontario.
The North American Platform Against Wind Power represents more than 370 groups and tens of thousands of individuals in a worldwide network, and is in daily contact with its European counterparts, numbering in the thousands of groups. From our perspective, we can see that the problems of industrial wind power are not specific to Ontario, as is suggested by developers; they are universal.
Regrettably, they are also emblematic of an industry that is co-opting governments to enhance profits: profits concentrated in the hands of few with no net social benefits. Without subsidies, loans, guaranteed loans, and tax incentives, there simply would be no industrial-wind. It is an obsolete, nonsensical, and intermittent source, always needing 100 percent backup from fossil-fuel power, or nuclear power, or hydro power. The cost of wind power to Ontario is estimated to be about $110,000,000,000. Yet Ontario dumped excess power in 2013 to the US and neighboring provinces, at a cost of $1 billion.
We know that you have been inundated with complaints about industrial wind, but the sheer volume of these complaints reflects the desperation felt by Ontarians. It reflects, too, the far-reaching nature of the problems involved, from irregularities at municipal meetings; to conflicts of interest; to health, law and order; to property and the environment; to energy and money.
Yet there been no compassion or relief. Officers charged by law with protecting the public health ignore or bluntly turn away concerns. The list of approved projects on the (Environment) Ministry’s website gives your office access to a host of impacted persons and communities. NA-PAW, along with other activist groups in Ontario, has interfaced with most of these impacted communities. If you desire, we can suggest persons to interview from across Ontario. Please also consult with Barbara Ashbee, whose knowledge of impacted persons is without peer. Pauli Sommer, too, has knowledge about and the trust of impacted persons.
The Medical Officers of Health protest that there is no harm from wind power: Municipalities and Boards of Health sometimes provide informal or other hearings from impacted residents. But then (as in Huron County), they excuse or release from duty officials who are sincerely accelerating responses to the dire health impacts reported to them. Please see this link for details about the case of Dr. Janice Owen, Acting Medical Officer of Health, Huron County.
The Problem with Measurements
Mr. Steven Cooper, a prominent acoustician from Australia, who has testified before the Australia Senate in wind turbine noise hearings, as well as having first hand data at the Cape Bridgewater Project in Australia, asks very reasonable and thought-provoking questions of the industry:
Mr. Cooper reflects on the complexity of studying what he calls wind turbine “dynamically pulsed amplitude modulation.”
In his paper presented at the 170th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America in Jacksonville, Florida, November 2015, he reflects on the nature of Infra and Low Frequency Noise (ILFN ) related to modulation. The title of his paper is: “Wind Farm Infrasound—Are We Measuring What Is There Or Something Else?”
Mr. Cooper indicates that, from an acoustic perspective, there is some as yet unknown mechanism that affects people. The following position has been adopted by the Acoustical Society of America Panel on Public Policy and endorsed by the Executive Council:
Acoustic emissions of wind turbines include airborne, underwater, infrasonic, and structure borne sounds, and have been reported by individuals living near these facilities. Wind turbine acoustic emissions and their potential effects should be investigated and fully addressed in an interdisciplinary manner. The Acoustical Society of America urges that guidelines for relating wind turbine sound descriptors to probabilities of adverse effects be developed, to aid in wise wind energy planning. Methods for measuring and quantifying wind turbine acoustic emissions, particularly at very low frequencies, should be developed that support the interdisciplinary findings.
In light of the above position, the ASA—under the guidance of Dr. P. Schomer (Standards Director, Emeritus, Acoustical Society of America)— invited leading acousticians around the world who have been involved in research into wind-turbine noise to participate in a Wind-Turbine Noise Working Group.
The group has met at the ASA Meetings in Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, Salt Lake City, and in the next few days in Hawaii, to hear presentations on various aspects of wind turbine noise and consider views on the acoustic measurement and analysis/interpretation of wind turbine noise.
Some of those papers have been incorporated into the Proceedings of Meetings of Acoustics issued by the Acoustical Society of America.
NA-PAW was able to obtain a briefing from Mr. Cooper just after the release of his Cape Bridgewater Study. We were also able to contact Mr. Cooper as he is currently preparing to give two invited presentations in Hawaii to the ASA Wind Turbine Working Group.
We understand that Mr. Cooper’s research into the infrasound signature associated with the operation of turbines has questioned the capability of standard instrumentation to accurately represent the time varying signal of wind turbines that is best described as “pressure pulsations” rather than noise.
NA-PAW had been previously advised by people in attendance at his presentations in Salt Lake City (May 2016) that they were impressed by a video presentation of Mr. Cooper’s analysis method that clearly showed the occurrence of amplitude modulation, frequency modulation, and pulsations in the acoustic signature of wind turbines.
His second paper at Salt Lake City showed a link between the infrasound signature, power modes of the turbines (as shown in the Cape Bridgewater Study), and amplitude modulation as used in the UK.
As a result of his investigating complaints associated with a coal-fired power station and a ventilation fan associated with an underground coal mine and the similarities to wind turbine noise, Mr. Cooper’s third paper showed infrasound threshold levels for sensation (below noise threshold) and the effect of amplitude modulation of tones on individuals. (The POMA papers for Salt Lake City are in the peer review process by the ASA.)
Mr. Cooper’s work agrees with that of Dr. Schomer, Rick James, and Rob Rand: people can hear distinct variable tones that are in the acoustic signature but at very low levels near the threshold of hearing.
As referenced above, Cooper suggests amplitude modulation of wind turbines may be better described as “dynamically pulsed amplitude modulation.”
The use of noise criteria for wind turbines based upon traffic noise studies does not address or reflect the dose-response of wind turbine noise.
In addressing the impact of wind turbines on residents, Mr. Cooper considers two relevant questions:
But the Harm Is Not in Doubt
Mr. Cooper’s work with residents at Cape Bridgewater, Victoria, Australia, is a landmark. This study offers direct evidence of the reality of unresolved complaints and impacts on the quality of life of residents. Residents reported headaches, severe nausea, debilitating sleeplessness, difficulty with concentration, ear pressure. Read more on the link provided. Access to residents’ diaries are also in this link. These diaries are of course representative of worldwide complaints. Ontario’s victims’ complaints are identical.
Other very important studies and assessments—such as those of Bob Thorne, Rob Rand, Rick James, Jerry Punch, Curt Devlin, Dr. Sarah Laurie of the Waubra Foundation, and the pioneering work of Dr. Nina Pierpont, to name but a few—indicate that the questions around the clarity of industrial wind’s signature sounds are complex and of a “to be determined” nature. However, the impacts registered by victims worldwide continue to show a clear dose response relationship, and irrefutable similarity. “Home abandonment,” evidenced worldwide, has become a characteristic social result of the wind industry: desperate persons and families find that their homes have become hazardous, and they are forced leave. That is not something a family does easily. Then, of course, there are those who are forced to stay, simply because the cost of moving is too high for it to be an option.
For further confirmation that there is little doubt about the impacts of industrial wind, please also view the complete and highly clear, peer-reviewed, easily readable review of health related wind turbine impact studies over 40 years, by Drs Jerry Punch and Rick James: The Negative Health Impact of Noise from Industrial Wind Turbines: The Evidence. It is our assessment that this document is really a benchmark of analysis and will provides a reference point for credible and professional evidence.
“Reports that many families abandon their homes after IWTs begin operation make the anecdotal evidence particularly compelling. Studies conducted in Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, and Sweden, where residents have many decades of experience with IWTs, collectively indicate that wind turbine noise differs from and is more annoying than other sources of noise, including community, transportation, and industrial sources.”
Tomorrow: Industrial-Wind’s Tempest (Part II):