Resource Documents: Ontario (63 items)
Documents presented here are not the product of nor are they necessarily endorsed by National Wind Watch. These resource documents are provided to assist anyone wishing to research the issue of industrial wind power and the impacts of its development. The information should be evaluated by each reader to come to their own conclusions about the many areas of debate.
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Author: Kouwen, Nicholas
This report outlines the findings of an informal wind turbine noise assessment at the Weaver residence at 7624 Wellington Road 12 just south of Arthur, ON, February‐March 2013.
The Weaver property abuts the 22.92 MW Conestogo Wind Farm in Mapleton Township near Arthur, ON. The wind farm consists of 9 Siemens AG2.3 MW IWT’s and 1 Siemens AG 2.221 MW wind turbine. A location diagram is located in Appendix A. The Weaver residence is shown as receptor 65 where the “worst case” IWT sound levels were predicted to be 39.2 dBA by the proponent.
The investigation suggests that the IWT generated noise does not comply with the MOE noise guidelines ~50% of the time and that SPLs are above the predicted “worst case” ~59% of the time.
A journal of the quality of life and health problems experienced by the occupants of the home is attached as Appendix B.
The equipment and methodology for the study is the same as that described in detail in my Grey Highlands 2012 Wind Turbine Noise Survey.
In the following part of the report, the results are paired for the two sites shown in Figures 1 & 2. Figure 1 shows the microphone location at the Weaver residence and Figure 2 shows the microphone location as a similar background site, approximately 10 km from the nearest IWT.
There are four separate comparisons:
- The time series of the A weighted sound pressure levels (SPLs) (dBA) along with the 10m wind speed in m/s and wind direction as well as ground wind speed.
- The A weighted SPL (dBA) covering all data versus 10 m wind speed.
- The A weighted SPL (dBA) versus 10 m wind speed for night time 1‐5 am only.
- The L50 versus 10m wind speed. Unweighted SPLs (dBZ) are also plotted.
In the following report, the MOE noise limits are those in NPC‐232 “Sound level limits for stationary sources in Class 1 & 2 Areas (Rural)”
When referring to the MOE protocol for determining compliance NPC‐103 “Compliance Protocol for Wind Turbine Noise” the methodology in this protocol is noted but is replaced by the more objective and workable approach adopted herein.
Author: Elma-Mornington Concerned Citizens
Invenergy is proposing to construct a wind turbine project in North Perth and Perth East southeast of Listowel. The project area is one of the best farming areas in Ontario as it is largely made up of Class 1 Agricultural land. The project area produces approximately 3% of Ontario dairy milk and also is home to intensive beef, pork and chicken operations. The impact of wind turbines on intensive agricultural operations and rural hamlets has not been given sufficient consideration in the REA process reviewing wind turbine projects and the Elma-Mornington Concerned Citizens have looked to the other nearby communities where turbines have been operating for some time to understand the impact.
The following report on the Ripley Wind Turbine project is part of this research process. It documents the situations and current status of 12 properties within the Ripley project area. The Ripley Wind Power Project began operation in December 2007. The project consists of 38 Enercon E82 wind turbines rated at 2 MW. The project also included approximately 26 kilometers of overhead collector lines and a sub-station located on Sideroad 25 south of Concession 6.
Prior to the construction of the wind turbines, this area of Huron-Kinloss Township southwest of the village of Ripley was largely used for cash cropping but also included a large beef operation and two horse farms. Both livestock operations are now gone.
Many homes had been separated from the adjoining farmland and sold as rural retreats or small hobby farms. Many of these homes are now vacant or demolished.
Property #1 – Concession 4 and Sideroad 25. House owned by Suncor/Acciona and now abandoned. Before the construction of the wind farm, this was the home farm for a family beef operation of about 500 head of cattle. Of those, approximately 200 head were located on this farm. When the operator could no longer live here, the operation closed.
Property #2 – Concession 2 and Sideroad 25. Before the wind turbine project was constructed, this house and barn were occupied by the son of owner of Property #1. The barn once housed 100 head of cattle. Property #2 was purchased by Suncor/Acciona and the house and barn where recently demolished. The only remaining sign of the former livestock operation is the OFA member tag on hydro pole and the 911 number lying in the grass.
Property #3 – Concession 2 between Sideroads 20 and 25. Before the construction of the wind project, this barn was leased by the owner of Property #1 for 200 head of cattle but it is now empty. Land owned by corporate farm operation. House to the right of the barn is separately owned.
Property #4 – Sideroad 30 at Concession 6. Former owner trained horses who were bothered by shadow flicker and turbine noise. Electrical issues documented as ‘House 3’ by Dr. Magda Havas and David Colling in September 2011 Bulletin of Science and Technology peer-reviewed article. House purchased by Suncor/Acciona and subsequently resold.
Property #5 – corner of Sideroad 30 and Concession 6. Owner is reportedly ill and has moved to Manitoba to farm. House is currently for sale.
Property #6 – Sideroad 30 north of Concession 6. Owners had health problems linked to electrical pollution that could not be totally resolved. House and farm purchased by a cash crop farmer. The house was severed from the farm and sold separately. The land was used for cash crops prior to the wind project and this use continues.
Property #7 – Concession 6 east of Sideroad 30. House owned by Suncor/Acciona and now abandoned as it cannot be sold. Previous owners trained horses that were bothered by shadow flicker and noise. House experienced electrical issues as well as excessive levels of noise measured at 74 dBA in master bedroom.
Property #8 – Concession 6 between Sideroads 25 and 30. House is located on a separate property from adjoining farmland. It was previously rented but family left due to health issues. The house is now vacant and for sale.
Property #9 – Concession 6 at Sideroad 25. House is on a separate property from adjoining farmland. House exposed to noise levels over 40 dDB from substation 1000 metres to the south. House owned by Suncor/Acciona and now abandoned.
Property #10 – Concession Road 6 east of Sideroad 25. Property owner is reporting health issues and testing show electrical contamination. Resolution is still to be determined.
Properties #11 and #12 – Concession Road 6 between Sideroads 20 and 25. Owners of two adjoining houses reporting are health problems. Preliminary assessment indicates problems with electrical contamination. Testing continues at these sites.
Impact on Leaseholders
The turbine locations were largely leased from non-resident owners of large areas of farmland. A few resident leaseholders continue to live in the area. Information from the community suggests that they are experiencing health problems but are not publicly disclosing these due to restrictive clauses in the turbine leases.
Leaseholder #1 – Concession 2 between Sideroads 20 and 25. This property is owned by a leaseholder who continues to occupy the house. Reports of health issues (including teenage daughter) are not confirmed due to restrictive clauses in the turbine leases. Contaminated hydro distribution lines terminate at this property.
Leaseholder #2 – Concession 4 between Sideroads 20 and 25. This property is also owned by a leaseholder. Problems with excessive infrasound are reported when winds are from the southeast and noise bounces off of barn and hits house. When this happens, the owners move to another house that they have in Paisley.
Author: Jeffery, Roy; Krogh, Carmen; and Horner, Brett
Canadian family physicians can expect to see increasing numbers of rural patients reporting adverse effects from exposure to industrial wind turbines (IWTs). People who live or work in close proximity to IWTs have experienced symptoms that include decreased quality of life, annoyance, stress, sleep disturbance, headache, anxiety, depression, and cognitive dysfunction. Some have also felt anger, grief, or a sense of injustice. Suggested causes of symptoms include a combination of wind turbine noise, infrasound, dirty electricity, ground current, and shadow flicker. Family physicians should be aware that patients reporting adverse effects from IWTs might experience symptoms that are intense and pervasive and might feel further victimized by a lack of caregiver understanding.
There is increasing concern that energy generation from fossil fuels contributes to climate change and air pollution. In response to these concerns, governments around the world are encouraging the installation of renewable energy projects including IWTs. In Ontario, the Green Energy Act was designed, in part, to remove barriers to the installation of IWTs. Noise regulations can be a considerable barrier to IWT development, as they can have a substantial effect on wind turbine spacing, and therefore the cost of wind-generated electricity. Industrial wind turbines are being placed in close proximity to family homes in order to have access to transmission infrastructure. In Ontario and elsewhere, some individuals have reported experiencing adverse health effects resulting from living near IWTs. Reports of IWT-induced adverse health effects have been dismissed by some commentators including government authorities and other organizations. Physicians have been exposed to efforts to convince the public of the benefits of IWTs while minimizing the health risks. Those concerned about adverse effects of IWTs have been stereotyped as “NIMBYs” (not in my backyard).
Global reports of effects
During the past few years there have been case reports of adverse effects. A 2006 Académie Nationale de Médecine working group report notes that noise is the most frequent complaint. The noise is described as piercing, preoccupying, and continually surprising, as it is irregular in intensity. The noise includes grating and incongruous sounds that distract the attention or disturb rest. The spontaneous recurrence of these noises disturbs the sleep, suddenly awakening the subject when the wind rises and preventing the subject from going back to sleep. Wind turbines have been blamed for other problems experienced by people living nearby. These are less precise and less well described, and consist of subjective (headaches, fatigue, temporary feelings of dizziness, nausea) and sometimes objective (vomiting, insomnia, palpitations) manifestations. A 2009 literature review prepared by the Minnesota Department of Health summarized case reports by Harry (2007), Phipps et al (2007), the Large Wind Turbine Citizens Committee for the Town of Union (2008), and Pierpont (2009). These case studies catalogued complaints of annoyance, reduced quality of life, and health effects associated with IWTs, such as sleeplessness and headaches. In 2010, Nissenbaum et al used validated questionnaires in a controlled study of 2 Maine wind energy projects. They concluded that “the noise emissions of IWTs disturbed the sleep and caused daytime sleepiness and impaired mental health in residents living within 1.4 km of the two IWT installations studied.” Reports of adverse health effects and reduced quality of life are also documented in IWT projects in Australia and New Zealand. A 2012 board of health resolution in Brown County in Wisconsin formally requested financial relocation assistance for “families that are suffering adverse health effects and undue hardships caused by the irresponsible placement of industrial wind turbines around their homes and property.” An Ontario community-based self-reporting health survey, WindVOiCe, identified the most commonly reported IWT-induced symptoms as altered quality of life, sleep disturbance, excessive tiredness, headache, stress, and distress. Other reported effects include migraines, hearing problems, tinnitus, heart palpitations, anxiety, and depression. In addition, degraded living conditions and adverse socioeconomic effects have been reported. In some cases the effects were severe enough that individuals in Ontario abandoned their homes or reached financial agreements with wind energy developers. After considering the evidence and testimony presented by 26 witnesses, a 2011 Ontario environmental review tribunal decision acknowledged IWTs can harm human health:
This case has successfully shown that the debate should not be simplified to one about whether wind turbines can cause harm to humans. The evidence presented to the Tribunal demonstrates that they can, if facilities are placed too close to residents. The debate has now evolved to one of degree.
Indirect effects and annoyance
When assessing the adverse effects of IWTs it is important to consider what constitutes human health. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Despite being widely accepted, the WHO definition of health is frequently overlooked when assessing the health effects of IWTs. Literature reviews commenting on the health effects of IWTs have been produced with varying degrees of completeness, accuracy, and objectivity. Some of these commentators accept the plausibility of the reported IWT health effects and acknowledge that IWT noise and visual effects might cause annoyance, stress, or sleep disturbance, which can have other consequences. However, these IWT health effects are often discounted because “direct pathological effects” or a “direct causal link” have not been established. In 2010, the Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health released The Potential Health Impact of Wind Turbines, which acknowledged that some people living near wind turbines report symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, and sleep disturbance but concluded “the scientific evidence available to date does not demonstrate a direct causal link between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects.” The lead author of the report, Dr Gloria Rachamin, acknowledged under oath that the literature review looked only at direct links to human health. Focusing on “direct” causal links limits the discussion to a small slice of the potential health effects of IWTs. The 2011 environmental review tribunal decision found that serious harm to human health includes “indirect impacts (e.g., a person being exposed to noise and then exhibiting stress and developing other related symptoms).” According to the night noise guidelines for Europe:
Physiological experiments on humans have shown that noise of a moderate level acts via an indirect pathway and has health outcomes similar to those caused by high noise exposures on the direct pathway. The indirect pathway starts with noise-induced disturbances of activities such as communication or sleep.
Pierpont documented symptoms reported by individuals exposed to wind turbines, which include sleep disturbance, headache, tinnitus, ear pressure, dizziness, vertigo, nausea, visual blurring, tachycardia, irritability, problems with concentration and memory, and panic episodes associated with sensations of internal pulsation or quivering when awake or asleep. The American Wind Energy Association and the Canadian Wind Energy Association convened a panel literature review that determined these symptoms are the “well-known stress effects of exposure to noise,” or in other words, are “a subset of annoyance reactions.” Noise-induced annoyance is acknowledged to be an adverse health effect. Chronic severe noise annoyance should be classified as a serious health risk. According to the WHO guidelines for community noise, “[t]he capacity of a noise to induce annoyance depends upon many of its physical characteristics, including its sound pressure level and spectral characteristics, as well as the variations of these properties over time.” Industrial wind turbine noise is perceived to be more annoying than transportation noise or industrial noise at comparable sound pressure levels. Industrial wind turbine amplitude modulation, audible low frequency noise, tonal noise, infrasound, and lack of nighttime abatement have been identified as plausible noise characteristics that could cause annoyance and other health effects.
Health effects in Ontario expected
Evidence-based health studies were not conducted to determine adequate setbacks and noise levels for the siting of IWTs before the implementation of the Ontario renewable energy policy. In addition, provision for vigilance monitoring was not made. It is now clear that the regulations are not adequate to protect the health of all exposed individuals. A 2010 report commissioned by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment concludes:
The audible sound from wind turbines, at the levels experienced at typical receptor distances in Ontario, is nonetheless expected to result in a non-trivial percentage of persons being highly annoyed …. [R]esearch has shown that annoyance associated with sound from wind turbines can be expected to contribute to stress related health impacts in some persons.
Consequently, physicians will likely be presented with patients reporting health effects. Family physicians should be aware that patients reporting adverse effects from IWTs might experience symptoms that are intense and pervasive and that they might feel further victimized by a lack of care-giver understanding. Those adversely affected by IWTs might have already pursued other avenues to mitigate the health effects with little or no success. It will be important to identify the possibility of exposure to IWTs in patients presenting with appropriate clinical symptoms.
Industrial wind turbines can harm human health if sited too close to residents. Harm can be avoided if IWTs are situated at an appropriate distance from humans. Owing to the lack of adequately protective siting guidelines, people exposed to IWTs can be expected to present to their family physicians in increasing numbers. The documented symptoms are usually stress disorder–type diseases acting via indirect pathways and can represent serious harm to human health. Family physicians are in a position to effectively recognize the ailments and provide an empathetic response. In addition, their contributions to clinical studies are urgently needed to clarify the relationship between IWT exposure and human health and to inform regulations that will protect physical, mental, and social well-being.
This article has been peer reviewed.
La traduction en français de cet article se trouve à www.cfp.ca/content/59/5/e218.
- Roy D. Jeffery, MD FCFP, Family physician, Northeastern Manitoulin Family Health Team, Little Current, Ont.
- Carmen Krogh, Retired pharmacist, former Editor-in-Chief of the Compendium of Pharmaceutical Specialties.
- Brett Horner, CMA, Certified Management Accountant.
Dr Jeffery, Ms Krogh, and Mr Horner are on the Board of Directors for the Society for Wind Vigilance, an international federation of physicians, acousticians, engineers, and other professionals who share scientific research on the topic of health and wind turbines.
Author: Kouwen, Nicholas
These are the results of nearly six months of continuous sound measurements away from and near industrial wind turbines (IWT’s) at five locations in Grey Highlands, ON, Canada. The measurement protocol was designed to allow for corrections to account for wind induced noise resulting in findings that are directly comparable to the MOE tables. The results indicate that for three IWT sites studied, the recorded sound pressure levels (SPL’s) exceeded MOE’s noise limits a majority of the time for non‐participating receptors outside the minimum distance of 550 m and outside the 40 dBA SPL contours calculated by consultants engaged by the wind developers. The other two sites were used to measure background noise levels.