Resource Documents: Law (50 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.
Author: Bronzaft, Arline
In her chapter “Sources of Noise” in Noise and Health [New York Academy of Medicine, 1991], Annette Zaner writes that sounds have been environmental pollutants for thousands of years, citing examples of stories of loud music in the Old Testament and noisy delivery wagons in ancient times. The Industrial Revolution and urbanization in more recent times raised the decibel levels in our communities, especially with the growth in transportation on the roads, on the rails and in the air, as well as the growth of noise polluting products. The proliferation of boom cars, cell phones and wind turbines during the past twenty years has made our world even noisier. Studies have been carried out that have demonstrated the potential impact of these noises on our mental and physical health, and there have been some efforts to lessen some of the intrusive sounds, e.g. aircraft and road traffic noise, but there is still too little attention paid to the deleterious effects of noise. While noise complaints top the list of complaints in major cities worldwide and noise even threatens the natural sound systems of our planet, there is no movement globally to address the noise pollutant. The following paper will examine the research linking noise to health effects, question why governments have not seriously attempted to lower noise levels and suggest ways to lessen the din. Doing so will not only be beneficial to our health and well-being but it would also be wise economically.
Arline L. Bronzaft
Professor Emerita, City University of New York
Open Journal of Social Sciences 2017; 5: 108-120.
[T]he literature supporting the adverse effects of noise on mental and physical health has grown in the last fifteen years, underscoring the need to move ahead with federal noise legislation. …
When Dr. Nina Pierpont wrote her book reporting her findings of vertigo, dizziness, sleep disturbance and other physiological disturbances in a group of 38 residents living near wind turbines, she was widely criticized for a very limited, less than scientific study [Wind Turbine Syndrome, K-Selected Books, 2009]. Dr. Pierpont’s study calls for replication but it should not have been dismissed. In science we start with exploratory research on small numbers and then we move on to studies with larger numbers and greater control of the variables. For example, in the New York Times article on December 15th 2016, entitled “Your Brain Versus ‘Harold’,” the author reports on a study relating fitness to thinking in older people that had been conducted on sixty older men. The article indicates that further research is needed but still gives credence to the results reported. One obvious shortcoming of the study is that it only included male subjects but the author of this article in the introductory paragraph generalizes the findings to all “older people.” The New York Times in its Tuesday Science section frequently reports findings of studies with small numbers and less than ideal control as does the mass media. The findings of these studies are suggestive, although treated more seriously in the media, and should lead to further research. Dr. Pierpont’s study also should be a call for additional research exploring the relationship between wind turbine sounds and visual effects and health impacts.
In chapter 5 of Why Noise Matters there is a discussion of several studies that have found that people get more annoyed by wind turbines than noise from road traffic and other industrial sounds. Why Noise Matters concludes that noise need not stop the development of onshore wind turbines, especially if carefully located, but unless the noise issue is seriously addressed, it will harm people and curb the development. Garret Keiser in his book The Unwanted Sound of Everything [Public Affairs, 2010] states that the “noise effects of wind turbines have been routinely denied by ignorant or unscrupulous developers,” supporting his conclusion with studies affirming this statement as well as his experiences personally visiting residents in Maine who described to him the impacts that nearby wind turbines had on their lives.
Guidelines for developing regulations for acoustic impact, based on the stage of operation of wind farms in Chile
Author: Montoya, Elías; and Gómez, Ismael
Five international documents of noise impact of wind farms were studied and summarized, highlighting their main aspects, methodologies and maximum acceptable limits, allowing the proposal of guidelines for an eventual specific regulation for the Chilean territory. In all analyzed documents, the influence of wind was considered as the main factor in determining the maximum permitted noise at the receptor. Regarding the proposed guidelines for the Chilean territory, in order to determine the maximum permitted levels in the receptor, it is suggested to respect the highest value between either a fixed limit, according to wind speed in integer values, established as a result of a full study by Chilean competent authorities in the country or a maximum limit by meeting a given background noise level plus a margin of 5 dB(A). If the above is not achieved, it is suggested as a last resort to establish compensation to the receptors for each dB exceeded.
For purposes of noise monitoring (either background or wind farm), it is proposed the use of the parameter L90(A),10min, which ensures freedom from the influence of occasional noises. It is recommended that such monitoring is carried out in the dwellings closest to the wind farm, at a height of 1.5 meters above the ground and away from reflective surfaces. It is suggested, in order to collect reliable data, a period of continuous measurements of 10 to 14 days for both background and wind farm operational noise, avoiding rainy days. In parallel, it is proposed to record the wind speed at a height of 10 meters on the wind farm or in a representative area. If there is proof of tonal noise by frequency bands analysis, a penalty of 5 dB will be proposed.
Elías N. Montoya, Departamento de Acústica, Universidad Tecnológica de Chile INACAP, Santiago
Ismael P. Gómez, Control Acústico (Gerard Ing. Acústica SpA.), Santiago, Chile
171st Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, Salt Lake City, Utah, 23-27 May 2016; Noise: Paper 4pNS2
Ontario, Canada: Noise Guidelines for Wind Farms  [link].
Denmark: Statutory Order on Noise from Wind Turbines  [link].
United Kingdom: ETSU-R-97 The Assessment and Rating of Noise from Wind Farms  and its application guide A good practice guide to the application of ETSU-R-97 for the assessment and rating of wind turbine noise . [critique] [critique]
South Australia, Australia: Wind Farms Environmental Noise Guidelines  [link].
Author: Rand, Robert
Differential acoustic pressure measurements were acquired and logged at three homes in the vicinity of the Golden West Wind Facility in El Paso County, Colorado during December 2015 and January 2016. A week of data was analyzed for each of the three homes and daily spectrograms produced which are attached. Each day’s data consisted of approximately 4.3 million differential pressure samples with a week comprised of some 30.5 million samples.
Preliminary investigation confirmed the presence of recurring acoustic pressure oscillations at 0.2 to 0.85 Hz (the “blade pass frequency” or BPF) which are associated to the Golden West wind turbine rotations. At times multiple oscillation frequencies were observed, consistent with multiple turbines operating at different rotation rates. Oscillations appeared to be more pronounced when the turbines are more upwind rather than downwind. Neighbors reported they are mostly downwind due to turbine location relative to home location and for the prevailing winds in the region.
Typical BPF total acoustic power were computed for example portions of the differential pressure data sets. Crest factors (the ratio of RMS to peak levels) were also computed for segments dominated by wind turbine rotation and uncontaminated by other noise, with typical crest factors of 13-19 dB. Totalized BPF RMS levels ranged from 56 to 70 dB re 20uPA, with peak levels from 71 to 89 dB. The RMS and peak levels are similar to those found at other sites with appeals to stop the noise, legal action, and homes abandoned.
It is understood from neighbors that they have experienced disturbance since the turbines started operating whereas prior to turbine operation there was no similar disturbance. It is understood that neighbors report improvement when turbines are shut down (not rotating) or when they remove themselves physically away from the Facility a distance of several miles.
El Paso County noise regulations define “Sound” as oscillations in pressure (or other physical parameter) at any frequency, and, prohibits noise disturbance due to acoustic oscillations.
The analysis is far from complete in that numerous segments of each day at each monitoring location could be analyzed and associated to journal entries and/or medical data. The reported association of proximity to the operating facility to disturbance in health and quality of life appears supported by the acoustic data acquired for this preliminary investigation. These preliminary investigations suggest that there is a condition of noise disturbance due to very low frequency acoustic pressure oscillations in the vicinity of the Golden West Wind Facility when it is operating, with more severe impacts downwind.
[NWW thanks Friends Against Wind for providing the video.]
Author: Ambrose, Stephen
There is an unsaid purpose and intent for this request [from the Vermont Public Service Board (PSB)]. Might it be an acknowledgement that “Vermont’s wind turbine noise rule does not protect neighbors from excessive noise and adverse health impacts”? This is obviously due to persistent complaints, and at least one home abandonment. This solicitation for public comments should not be used to divert-delay-deny public attention. Wind turbine neighbors want the PSB to correct the current flawed regulations based on accepting for regulatory rules those the wind industry recommends. If the PSB sought advice from truly independent sources they would have learned that 45 dBA is only applicable for urban-residential areas and even for those communities is not sufficient to protect people. Ontario, and other Canadian provinces have regulations setting 40 dBA as the not-to-exceed threshold. Yet, recent studies have shown strong evidence that 40 dBA is not preventing adverse health impacts. Even 40 dBA is too loud. Somehow the cautionary warnings of the 1970s about 35 dBA for quiet rural-residential environments have been ignored. Standards such as ISO 1996 and ANSI’s S12.9 still support 35 dBA for nighttime noise in quiet rural regions.
The noise rule needs a large scale reduction in its permitted noise limits to protect and minimize noise complaints. Anything less will only continue the endless discussions for equivocating with fudging, quibbling, and evading the need to lower to 35 dBA. Adding superfluous and complicated measurements, procedures or protocols around the 45 dBA will only continue to result in failure. The PSB should understand this after receiving reams of unfathomable data from acousticians closely aligned with developers that has no connection to a human response.
The PSB should seek assistance from independent experts to establish a noise rule that minimizes adverse human responses. This noise limit must be easy to understand and enforce. The PSB should not have to deal with the intricacies of acoustic science, noise sources, propagation, and weather. These are the concerns for the noise consultants who are responsible to their wind developer clients, who need to advise their clients on how not to harm the public. The PSB should focus on public health and enforcing compliance; and not be negotiating mitigating options with developers, operators, or consultants.
The current wind turbine sound rule should be abandoned and replaced with the previous noise limits. The Environmental Board used Lmax for its regulations and that has been upheld by the Vermont Supreme Court (see page 11). The Lmax refers to the instantaneous maximum level (LAmax) relative to the background (LA90). People hear the instantaneous variations above the background and respond accordingly, which cannot be substituted with a time-weighted average. Adverse public reactions are shown to occur when the Lmax exceeds the background L90 by 10 dB.
Answers for most of the questions start on the next page …
See also: Vermont Public Service Board Sound Rule Workshop (presentation)