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Request for a Province Wide Moratorium on Industrial Wind Power Projects and a Comprehensive Noise and Health Study  

Author:  | Health, Noise, Nova Scotia, Regulations

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 As well, this study was not peer reviewed, nor was it conducted by an independent organization, but was instead paid for by the wind industry.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

Download original document: Moratorium Request and Cover Letter

This article is the work of the author(s) indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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