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Quietly sounding alarm; Forced from home after noise from wind farm turbines made family sick, d’Entremont telling others his story  

Daniel d’Entremont has become somewhat of a poster boy for people opposed to having wind farms in their neighbourhood.

He was in Kincardine, Ont., this spring for a speaking engagement and recently returned from Chilton, Wis.

An Illinois trip is also on the horizon for Mr. d’Entremont, the Yarmouth County man who relocated his family of eight away from a local wind farm.

He says the noise from the turbines was making his family sick.

In Ontario, a group of people who had formed a wind-action group invited him to speak.

“They weren’t opposed to wind power but they were just fearful of the effects it would have when wind farms would encroach too close,” said Mr. d’Entremont.

In Wisconsin, he was invited by local homeowners who had heard of him.

“When they found out these wind companies were proposing wind sites . . . close to their homes they got together and they were afraid for their homes. . . . They want these windmills set farther back,” he said.

“They learned of me through Dr. Nina Pierpont from Upstate New York.”

She’s a pediatrician who studies the effects of wind turbines on kids.

She did a clinical interview with Mr. d’Entremont over the phone early last year and “presented it to a wide audience,” he said.

He and his wife Carolyn decided to move last year with their six children back to her parent’s home in Abrams River, about 35 kilometres from the 17-turbine wind farm at Pubnico Point, operated by Atlantic Wind Power Corp. Ltd.

The constant swooshing sounds from the turbines – the closest being 350 metres from their Lower West Pubnico house – was making everyone sick, he said.

No one in the household could concentrate for long and headaches were frequent among family members, he remembers.

Now people want to hear all about his experiences first-hand.

He said there is a common question: “What was life (like) with (wind) turbines next door, in the backyard?”

And what did these audiences find interesting or startling?

“Everything – from the health affects to just the shear magnitude of the noise,” said Mr. d’Entremont.

His said his family, for instance, had to use noise to block out noise.

“All (bed)rooms had fans eventually, but the kids would have fans right at their heads, especially the small ones, just to mitigate the noise.

“They could sleep with the fan noise but not with the windmill noise.

“It’s an intrusion. It’s a violation. You feel violated,” said Mr. d’Entremont.

People often seemed surprised after hearing him speak, he said. “It really opened their eyes to the potential problems.

“Everybody is not impacted the same way, but a large number of them would be impacted severely.”

Mr. d’Entremont has had his expenses covered on these speaking engagements, but has refused to take a fee for both speaking engagements. He said he has another session coming up in Illinois sometime soon.

And Dr. Pierpont contacted him again this month, asking that he undergo some tests at a U.S. medical centre after his upcoming appearance in Illinois.

Dr. Pierpont has arranged for a doctor in Lafayette, Ind., to do some work, he said.

She wants to speak with the d’Entremont children individually.

“She’s going to publish this in a medical journal,” said Mr. d’Entremont.

He’s e-mailed the premier to let him know what he’s been doing and wants the government to agree to relocate his family.

“They’re both responsible, the government and the wind farm,” said Mr. d’Entremont, about decisions made to operate wind turbines so close to dwellings.

Natural Resources Canada ordered a study of noise levels at the site. Testing in 2005 by an Ontario firm determined that sound from the turbines is continually audible, to varying degrees.

The wind power company has made some noise reducing alterations to some of their equipment, president Charles Demond said this week.

“We’ve reconfigured some of the turbines so that they do not engage or generate any power until a higher . . . wind speed,” he said.

“At lower wind speeds, if the wind is coming from a southerly direction, then certain of the turbines will not come on until a higher threshold,” said Mr. Demond.

He could not say what the wind speeds were or how many machines have been reconfigured.

Mr. d’Entremont said he has seen the three windmills closest to his home shut down during daytime hours, but has heard the same units operating again after dark.

“You can hear them from (my house),” he said.

No one from the company has told him of any changes to turbine operations, he said.

Daniel d’Entremont and his family still live in Abrams River with in-laws and their home in Lower West Pubnico is vacant and still for sale.

“Nobody wants to live near a wind farm,” said Mr. d’Entremont.


27 August 2007

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