‘What is the truth?’: Opponents say turbines pose health risk, lower quality of life
By JUSTIN PFEIFFER – STAFF WRITER
Suzan Askins speaks during a Concerned Citizens for Steuben County informational meeting at Canisteo-Greenwood High School Monday. The meeting highlighted possible negative effects of wind farms on the environment and the health of humans and animals.
CANISTEO – The Concerned Citizens for Steuben County hosted an informational meeting at Canisteo-Greenwood High School Monday night to highlight what many view as the negative side of wind farms.
The main focus of the meeting, which drew about 40 people, was the construction on Call and Hartsville hills, in Hartsville, that Ireland-based Airtricity has proposed.
The group also passed out a petition requesting a moratorium on constructing industrial wind turbines in Hartsville until a federal study is completed by the National Academy of Sciences.
“I encourage the town board to wait until the study is done,” Larry Newhart, a property owner on Call Hill, said. “It will be completed in 12 months, let’s wait.
“The town board could install a 12-month waiting period,” he added. “I ultimately want an up or down vote on the wind project. That way the town board can say it truly represents the people.”
The group showed a video that highlighted the alleged negative effects of the Meyersdale Wind Energy Center in Pennsylvania.
The video showed how turbines diminished the unblemished natural beauty of the area. A man in the video told of how he only got 1-2 hours of sleep per night because of the noise. A real estate agent said he found no one that had any interest in property that involved turbines in any way.
Patricia Soper-Oakes, a chiropractor and Hartsville resident, followed the video by giving a list of adverse health effects wind turbines can cause.
“We are seeking the truth of the proposed wind tower project,” she said. “I want to know what is the truth, what is false and who is misleading us.”
Soper-Oakes said she and her husband, Nate, planned to build a home on Ridge Road for 13 years and are finally able to.
“Nothing was said to us about wind turbines being installed,” Soper-Oakes said. “Now I’m nervous about building a home until they assure my safety, comfort and we are assured none are built within three miles of our property.”
Soper-Oakes gave examples by various doctors and professors of adverse health effects in different areas.
She said the brakes failed on one turbine, it spun uncontrollably and flung debris for 3/10ths of a mile. She also added people in various areas near wind farms complained of noise, shadow flicker, sleep disturbances, stress, depression, electrical pollution, electrical interference and having a menstrual cycle 4-5 times a month.
“How do you put a value on health?” Soper-Oakes said.
In her reports, she also likened the low frequency noise a turbine can give off to torture used by the Germans in World War II.
“I’ve been to every wind farm in New York,” Richard Warriner, who has seen all of the farms because of travel related to his job, said. “I’ve never seen anything like what you’ve shown here tonight.”
The group also showed a part of an Airtricity contract that troubled them the most – the right to object clause.
In that part of the contract, it states the turbines may result in some nuisance, visual impact, noise, shadow flicker and electronic interference.
The clause also says the company does everything to meet U.S. standards on wind farms.
“I would like to know what are (the standards)?” Soper-Oakes said. “And, where can they be found?
“Who do I sue if they adversely affect my health?” she added.
Newhart also feels the town’s residents are at a disadvantage and warned about a possible tax decrease due to the possible construction.
“I’ve lived here for 30 years, and taxes have never gone down,” he said. “Hartsville is at a disadvantage. Only after the leases were signed was this made public knowledge.”
Suzan Askins questioned why the company can be offered a payment in lieu of taxes through the county’s industrial development agency.
“That is usually granted to places like Alstom,” she said, “who employ people from here and pay taxes here.”
George Prior, town councilman, said the board was approached in September of 2004 and that the company might have an interest in the area, but nothing was concrete at that time.
“There was no indication of a viable project until enough leases were signed,” Prior said. “We were not aware (of the proposal) until shortly before the October meeting.
“It is not true the town board has cloaked information,” he added. “I do agree with one thing though … what is the truth?”
Prior encouraged anyone looking for information to check and verify sources, look at both sides, answer their own questions and visit wind farms.
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