Resource Documents: Nova Scotia (8 items)
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Author: Orton, David
This Green Web Bulletin is a criticism of large scale industrial wind turbine sites in rural areas, from a deep ecology perspective. This critique looks at a site near to where we live in Pictou County, Nova Scotia – the Dalhousie Mountain Wind Farm. The project comprises 34 wind turbines and is supposed to provide 51 megawatts of power in the first phase. The proponent has mused that the site has the “potential” for 150 megawatts. (For comparative purposes, we include some critical comments about another site, the Glen Dhu project, located on the border of Pictou and Antigonish counties, which proposes building 30 wind turbines totalling 60 MW in its “first phase”, with potential expansion to 230 MW.)
Those of us who try to follow climate change discussions know that in industrially developed societies like Canada, greenhouse gases need to be reduced by 80-90%. But this is not happening. The concentration of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, increases in the atmosphere every year. Presently, the only thing modifying this, is when the world economy goes into recession.
Here in Nova Scotia there are moves to expand coal mining. Fossil fuel exploration and extraction are pursued vigorously offshore on the Scotian Shelf. The exploitation of the Alberta tar sands symbolizes the undermining of any belief that climate change is taken seriously at a federal government level in Canada. There is no apparent major societal reduction in fossil fuel use to cut back on greenhouse gas production, just as there is no overall program to reduce energy consumption, by citizens living more frugally.
As we have used up easily accessible fossil fuels and minerals, more energy is required to maintain society’s consumption level. Alternative energy paths are now being considered, yet there is no concern with reducing consumption or controlling human population growth. We need to see energy production and consumption in such a context, as we go on the quest for an appropriate renewable energy path.
If we are to embark on this path, Schumacher’s comment in his book Small is Beautiful: A Study Of Economics As If People Mattered of “appropriate scale” has to be kept in mind. Industrializing the rural landscape with large wind turbine “farms” is not an appropriate scale. We also need to appreciate that what is happening in Nova Scotia, and elsewhere, with the installation of industrial turbines – what Nova Scotia Power calls “Putting The Wind To Work” – is just a beginning. This Green Web bulletin on wind turbines is meant to assist a needed activist call to action.
By David Orton, with contributions from Billy MacDonald of Redtail Nature Awareness and Helga Hoffmann-Orton
Download original document: “Wind Farms and Deep Ecology”
Author: Orton, David; and Hoffmann-Orton, Helga
This book commentary was written in the context of our own local situation, and to make Nina Pierpont’s Wind Turbine Syndrome: A Report on a Natural Experiment better known to others who have wind turbines sprouting up like industrial mushrooms in their backyards and regions. Pierpont, a rural physician living in upstate New York, writes about health impacts suffered by people living close to wind turbines. The book is essentially about human health, and does not discuss ecosystem health, a more encompassing topic with wider dimensions. The reference to “natural experiment” in the subtitle, refers to “a circumstance wherein subjects are exposed to experimental conditions both inadvertently and ecologically (within their own homes and environments).” (p. 5)
Download original document: “Wind Turbines: Some Deeper Questions”
Request for a Province Wide Moratorium on Industrial Wind Power Projects and a Comprehensive Noise and Health Study
Author: Eco Awareness Society
To: The Honourable Maureen MacDonald, Minister of Health and Health Promotion and Protection
We, as Nova Scotia Residents and Citizens respectfully request the following:
1. That a comprehensive, and accurate epidemiological study into the health effects of wind turbine noise and vibration is conducted by a properly accredited group of health and science professionals who are independent of both government and industry interests.
2. That the setbacks from residences and maximum noise levels reflect the data from this study, as well as reflect the standards set by countries that have more experience with industrial wind turbines than Nova Scotia and that all setbacks and noise levels, at a minimum, comply with the standards recommended by the World Health Organization on noise.
3. That a province-wide moratorium on all industrial wind power projects at any stage of development, including those not yet completed and those already approved by NSE, be put in place immediately and continue until such a study is completed and the corresponding regulations put in place.
We are making these requests based on the following:
1. The recent American / Canadian Wind Energy Association sponsored study was based on a selective literature review only, with no epidemiological studies. As well, this study was not peer reviewed, nor was it conducted by an independent organization, but was instead paid for by the wind industry. The conclusions from this industry study cannot be reasonably considered free from bias.
2. The Japanese government has found sufficient evidence of possible negative health effects and is instigating a four-year study beginning in April 2010. The study covers all wind turbines in operation throughout the country (more than 1,500) and will also measure low-frequency sounds from turbine operations. The Japanese “Ministry’s Office of Odor, Noise and Vibration says “finding out the effects of low-frequency noise on the human body is a pressing issue…”
3. The Eco Awareness Society filed a complaint with Nova Scotia Environment alleging that Shear Wind’s consultant plagiarized and altered the data in the technical literature to make it appear that Shear Wind’s project posed no health and safety risks. The department’s finding was that the altered data was a mistake on the consultant’s part. Nova Scotia Environment is allowing this health section to stand, “mistakes” and all, and is now complicit in providing false and misleading information to the public on the health effects of industrial wind power projects. Furthermore, the consultant’s professional background as a toxicologist lacks any clinical expertise to evaluate the health impacts associated with industrial wind turbines.
4. The noise modeling studies used in Shear Wind’s and Digby’s Environmental Assessments are flawed. An engineer sent documentation to Nova Scotia Environment regarding both environmental assessments, detailing the problems with the noise modeling studies. Yet Nova Scotia Environment ignored the evidence and approved both environmental assessments without counter-evidence or any comment, thereby putting residents’ health at risk.
The flawed data in Shear Wind’s assessment was recently used as evidence to recommend approval of Shear Wind’s rezoning request to the Antigonish County Council. These noise modeling studies underestimate noise levels and are misleading when used to assess the potential risk for those living near industrial wind power projects.
5. Health Canada’s response to the Digby Wind Power Project Addendum dated August 6, 2009. Allison Denning of Health Canada responded to various sections of the addendum, most notably she stated that the statements regarding background noise masking noise from the turbines was “misleading”. She advised “that nearby residents [be] informed that turbine noises may be audible in terms of a low-level continuous or intermittent swooshing, as well as at low frequencies around 50 Hertz.
She also stated, “please ensure that any communication effort presents factual information with respect to expected noise levels, including information pertaining to the audibility of operational noises (low-level continuous, intermittent swooshing or low frequency noise), and also includes the potential effects of specific noise levels on human health.
Finally, she stated that contrary to the assessment’s assertions, “in fact, there are peer-reviewed scientific articles indicating that wind turbines may have an adverse impact on human health.
6. There is more than enough research, data and findings in consideration of the value of one’s health to validate a province-wide moratorium on Industrial Wind Power Projects.
When the well being of Nova Scotians is at risk, it is appropriate to invoke the “precautionary principal”. This industrial scale activity is being deployed in Nova Scotia without full knowledge of the negative impacts. Counties are creating industrial wind turbine bylaws that do not protect communities or the environment from unbearable noise pollution. It is the responsibility of the Department of Health to act in the best interests of the residents of Nova Scotia, regardless of the department’s position on industrial wind power projects. This is not about being “for” or “against” industrial wind turbines; this is about the Department of Health’s mandate and obligation to responsibly assess the health and noise impacts of these projects.
April 7, 2010
Author: Safe Environments Program, Regions and Programs Branch, Health Canada
Section 2.1 (Site Layout Review) and Table 1 (Summary of Effects and Significance Prediction Comparison of Site Layouts) – The revised layout adopted by the proponent appears to yield sound levels that should normally be below Health Canada’s acceptable threshold value of 45 dBA for sleep disturbance at the exterior of the building of the nearest sensitive receptor (WHO, 1999). However, if a 5 dBA to 8 dBA increase in sound due to the proximity of the ocean were assumed and an additional +/− 3dBA were included to account for model uncertainties, noise levels may exceed 45 dBA. Thus, predicted sound levels, even under assumed worst-case conditions, may underestimate measured levels by 5 dBA or greater. For example, at another wind farm in Nova Scotia, maximum sound levels were estimated to be 49 dBA using ISO9613-2, however, measured values were as high as 54 dBA when wind speeds were 5 m/s blowing on-shore from the ocean (Howe, Gastmeier, Chapnik Limited, 2006).
- Health Canada advises that noise monitoring be undertaken under varying climatic conditions in order to ensure that noise levels do not exceed the acceptable level, and if exceedences are identified, that appropriate mitigation be implemented to reduce the noise level to an acceptable level.
Section 3.2.2 (Effect of Water on Noise Levels) – The report states that “it has generally been considered that the increased background wind noise will cause some masking of the sound levels from the turbines” and “if there is an enhanced stability, the wind that causes background sound may not increase as much as that which causes sounds from the turbines”. These statements can be misleading as turbine noise is likely to be audible to the nearest receptors in the form of continuous low-level or intermittent swooshing, as well as low frequencies at approximately 50 Hertz. As such, Health Canada advises the following:
- Please omit statements about noise masking as they can be misleading; and
- Please ensure that nearby residents are informed that turbine noises may be audible in terms of a low-level continuous or intermittent swooshing, as well as at low frequencies around 50 Hertz.
Section 3.2.3 (Noise Mitigation) – The report states that “noise monitoring [will be conducted] on a routine basis or complaint basis”. In addition to the plan for monitoring and complaint resolution, which is intended to help mitigate any adverse community reaction, it is advisable to also implement a communication strategy. Accurate information with respect to potential acoustical effects related to the operation of the turbines is an essential part of any effective communication strategy.
- Please ensure that any communication effort presents factual information with respect to expected noise levels, including information pertaining to the audibility of operational noises (low-level continuous, intermittent swooshing or low frequency noise), and also includes the potential effects of specific noise levels on human health (see the following comment below).
Appendix B (Addressing Concerns with Wind Turbines and Human Health) – The final sentence in Appendix B states that “there is no peer-reviewed scientific evidence indicating that wind turbines have an adverse impact on human health”. In fact, there are peer-reviewed scientific articles indicating that wind turbines may have an adverse impact on human health. For example, Keith et. al. (2008), identified annoyance as an adverse impact on human health that can be related to high levels of wind turbine noise. In addition, there are several articles by Pedersen (and others) related to wind turbine annoyance (as referenced below). The relationship between noise annoyance and adverse effects on human health is also further investigated in the manuscript by Michaud et. al (2008).
- Health Canada advises that this statement be revised to indicate that there are peer-reviewed scientific articles indicating that wind turbines may have an adverse impact on human health.
Howe Gastmeier Chapnik Limited (HCG Engineering). 2006. Environmental Noise Assessment Pubnico Point Wind Farm, Nova Scotia. Natural Resources Canada Contract NRCAN-06-00046.
Keith, S. E., D. S. Michaud, and S. H. P. Bly. 2008. A proposal for evaluating the potential health effects of wind turbine noise for projects under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. Journal of Low Frequency Noise, Vibration and Active Control, 27 (4): 253-265.
Michaud, D., S. H. P. Bly, and S. E. Keith. 2008. Using a change in percentage highly annoyed with noise as a potential health effect measure for projects under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. Canadian Acoustics, 36(2): 13-28.
Pedersen, E., and Halmstad, H. I. 2003. Noise annoyance from wind turbines – a review. Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, Report 5308. Pedersen, E. and Persson Waye, K. 2008. Wind turbines – low level noise sources interfering with restoration? Environmental Research Letters, 3: 1-5.
Pedersen, E., and Persson Waye, K. 2007. Wind turbine noise, annoyance and selfreported health and wellbeing in different living environments. Occup. Environ. Med. 64: 480-486.
Pedersen E. and Persson Waye, K. 2004. Perception and annoyance due to wind turbine noise – a dose-response relationship. J. Accoust. Soc. Am. 116: 3460-3470.
World Health Organization (WHO). 1999. Guidelines for Community Noise. Eds. B. Berglund, T. Lindvall, D. H. Schwela. WHO: Geneva.
Van den Berg, F., Pedersen E., Bouma, J., and R. Bakker. 2008. Project WINDFARMperception. Visual and acoustic impact of wind turbine farms on residents. FP6-2005-Science-and-Society-20 Project no. 044628: 1-99.
Download original document: “Health Canada’s response to the Digby Wind Power Project Addendum, Digby, Nova Scotia”