I live across the river from the wind turbine in Hull, MA, called Hull Wind II, which is about 400 feet tall from water level to the top of the blades. …
This turbine was put up on a former landfill, which had never been done in the U.S. The foundation for the turbine had to be secured to the bedrock below the landfill by drilling all the way through. The problem is that this landfill was mismanaged by the town for years, and was cited and fined numerous times by the state for that mismangement. Because the turbine was being put up by the town’s municipal light plant, Hull Light Plant, there were no checks and balances in place and no way to monitor if the river would be damaged by this work. The town did not have to answer to anyone, and that was why we started questioning the process and why we hired an attorney to try and get the state to slow down the process.
While we didn’t doubt that it could stand on the site, we were concerned about what might leach into the adjacent river. Yet our concerns were immediately discounted by town officials and pro-wind supporters, and we were labeled as neighbors who just didn’t want to look at the turbine. The town complained to the state that if our request for environmental monitoring was implemented, it would be too costly and enough to shut down the town’s efforts to put up the turbine. Our appeal to the state was denied.
This area is in a migratory path for birds in our area and it was also labeled an Area of Critical Environmental Concern by the state. We asked the Audubon Society to recommend that the plans be postponed for 1 year to track the bird activity in the proposed area and then after the turbine was up to determine what the effects were. They would not take on this challenge because they said there wasn’t enough time allotted for this type of a study, their resources were tied up with the larger Cape Wind proposal, and they generally support alternative energy sources. This was a lost opportunity for all those pro-wind supporters to show that they had nothing to hide and to clearly demonstrate that the turbines would do no damage.
Although we did what we could to stand up for our corner of the planet, it was clear than a few residents cannot match the power of the big businesses that are resposible for the wind turbines and the so-called environmentalists who would do anything for their cause of alternative energy sources – even if it means placing a 400 foot industrial turbine in the middle of an environmentally sensitive area without properly researching the location. If those involved really believed that by putting up that turbine they would not be harming the environment at that location, they would have not only agreed to monitor the turbine’s effect on the environment, but they would have been leading the call for the monitoring. Because of our grassroots efforts, a local nonprofit environmental group organized volunteers to monitor bird activity but that was discontinued as soon as the turbine was errected. It was later disclosed that the same nonprofit group would be paid $20,000 annually by the Hull Light Plant to create a building to house their organization and to promote the local environment and renewable energy sources.
And one final note: pro-wind supporters often say that issues such as turbine noise are just a myth, but those who live with turbines can tell you otherwise. Anyone who says that turbines don’t make enough noise to bother anyone is just not being honest. Even one turbine is enough to be heard a mile away. In our case, the turbine is at the edge of the water and in the middle of a very peaceful estuary, so the sound may be more amplified than in most places, but people’s noise concerns should not be discounted. And while the noise is an issue, the massive shadow from the turbine is another very upsetting issue, which again, should not be discounted.
Jan. 31, 2007
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