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The following letter was published in the Hays Daily News, June 2007, submitted by Barbara-Jean Ottley, MD, a physician and resident in Hays, Kansas.
I feel as if our community has been kept in the dark about the 130-plus wind turbine facility to be located in Ellis County. I am a neurologist in the Hays community, a taxpayer and a voting constituent.
After doing a bit of research regarding wind turbines, I believe all of us residing in Ellis County need to be involved in making the decision of whether or not we should permit a wind turbine facility to be located 5 miles from the city of Hays. I am an advocate of wind and solar power. I believe wind power is an excellent manner in which to generate electricity.
But, I do not believe it is in the best interest of Ellis County and the city of Hays to have this facility within 5 miles of our community.
I especially do not believe it is safe for landowners to live within 1 to 2 miles of the wind turbines.
The literature available on the medical consequences related to “wind turbine syndrome” indicate there are numerous symptoms reported by inhabitants living in close proximity to the wind turbines. The long-term effects due to constant exposure to low-frequency noise generated by wind turbines is not fully and completely known. Nina Pierpont, MD, PhD from the John Hopkins University School of Medicine lists the symptoms from this syndrome as: chronic sleep disturbances, nausea, problems with concentration and learning, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), exhaustion, anxiety, irritability and depression.
In susceptible individuals, wind turbines have been noted to cause vertigo (sensation of spinning or turning), imbalance, motion sickness, nausea and triggering of seizures.
An international research group, the Vibroacoustic Disease Project centered in Portugal, has extensively published on the effects of low-frequency noise on the cardiovascular, pulmonary and neurologic systems. The ongoing research from the late 1980s describe Vibroacoustic Disease as including fibrosis (the laying down of fibrous thickening in the form of collagen) in the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems and seizures and cognitive changes in the brain caused long-term exposure to low frequency noise (less than 500 Hz), most of which cannot be heard. (Wind Turbine Syndrome by Nina Pierpont, MD, PhD, Aug. 2006). Sound waves of certain wavelengths resonate inside the body, setting up vibrations to which the body responds by reinforcing its tissues with extra collagen, causing thickening of the pericardium (membrane around the heart) and cardiac valves, fibrosis of the lungs, and proliferation of the supporting (glial) cells in the brain.
How long will it take before the inhabitants of Ellis County experience these effects?
Is it correct that our three elected county commissioners will be given the responsibility of determining whether this facility will be located near the city of Hays? I have been informed that at least 100 homeowners will be living in close proximity to the wind turbines. How will we compensate them for any medically related events suffered by them from vibroacoustic disease and wind turbine syndrome?
I can only hope our county commissioners will vote responsibly and vote “no” on allowing a wind turbine facility to locate within a few thousand feet of homeowners, and a few miles from a populated city.
This is not a decision that should be made by a few. As a physician and a concerned citizen of the Hays community, I would like to ask our community be involved in making the decision of allowing an industrial wind turbine facility to locate within a few miles of our city.
Our Kansas Legislature should be required to set up a panel of experts to review the data and medical information available on wind turbine facilities. As a community, we need to request a moratorium be issued to allow time to study the safe issues, both medical and environmental, relating to wind turbine facilities.
Also, do we in Ellis County fully understand the other non-health related factors that might come about by close proximity to wind turbines? How will these structures affect cell towers, phone signals, Doppler radar, cardiac pacemakers, increased stray voltage, fire hazard, ice throwing from the blades, changes in our wildlife and environment, and lastly the property value of the homes located within a few miles of these structures?
As concerned citizens, I urge you to write to your representatives, senators and governor asking why no state or federal law has determined the safe distance in which to live next to a windpowered turbine.
It is our right and our duty to fully be informed before we allow a new industry the right to change the world in which we live.
The health and welfare of too many Ellis County inhabitants is at stake at this moment.
Are we willing to accept this risk?
Barbara-Jean Ottley, MD
2740 Thunderbird Drive
Hays, KS 67601
25 June 2007
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