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The Attica Reservoir, wind turbines and drinking water  

Credit:  By Joseph Zampogna, The Daily News, thedailynewsonline.com 23 January 2009 ~~

The clear waters of Crow Creek flow into and out of the Attica reservoir creating drinking water for the Attica area, including the Attica Correctional Facility. This important reservoir is principally located in the town of Attica. However, the southern portion of this pristine body of water extends into the town of Orangeville (Nesbitt, Buffalo, Krotz roads) which receives tax payments from the village of Attica on that portion of the reservoir.

Currently, some Orangeville property owners, whose land is located within the publicly designated Attica watershed for this reservoir, have signed land-lease agreements with the Invenergy Wind Energy Corporation (www.csoo.info). If the developer’s proposed wind turbine setbacks are approved and permitted by the Orangeville Town Board (see addendum below),there will be several 400+ foot wind turbines erected well within this designated watershed area.

Why should this be of concern to residents of the Attica area? Wind developers consistently claim that their product is safe and environmentally friendly. However, a recent summary of wind turbine accident data (www.caithnesswindfarms.co.uk) reveals a large number of accidents including blade failure, fire, lightning strikes, ice throw, human injury and fatalities. Of singular importance to aquifers, the planners of wind installations in Valencia, Spain, have noted the dripping and flinging off of motor oil and cooling and cleaning fluids from wind turbines, pointing out that each l.5 MW turbine contains several hundred gallons of oil. (Rosenbloom@ www.aweo.org). In fact, in West Martinsburg, N.Y. at least one water well was contaminated by a 491 gallon oil spill from a wind farm transformer explosion and fire. (Watertown Daily Times, Dec. 29, 2007).

Furthermore, while neglecting environmental concerns, the Invenergy developers inappropriately used some 45,000 tons of donated steel slag from the defunct Lackawanna Steel site as a road base in developing the Sheldon wind farm. The heavy metal content of this slag is known to cause ground water contamination. (gcramer@aol.com)

Additionally, the problem of mercury pollution associated with wind projects is rarely mentioned. However, it is a known fact among environmental experts that the production of concrete generates large amounts of mercury released from the limestone used as raw material; the median amount being 1.5 lbs. of mercury per ton of concrete. Each turbine base requires over a million lbs. (approx. 446 tons) of concrete. Do the math! (Sullivan, J. The Empire Page, Dec. 13, 2008)

Wyoming County is located along the Attica Fault Line. As reported, on Aug. 12, 1929, extensive damage occurred in the Attica area from a strong earthquake shock (intensity 7). “An increased flow at the Attica reservoir was noted for several days after the earthquake; a number of wells went dry.” (http//earthquake.usgs.gov/regional/states/newyork/history.php). This same government report also documents a magnitude 4.7 disturbance on Jan. 1, 1966, which caused damage in the Attica and Varysburg areas.

Although natural disasters are beyond man’s control, it is vitally important that our elected decision makers take every possible precaution to avoid or minimize the man-made effects of mother nature’s unpredictable behavior. Wind turbines erected within the designated public watershed of the Attica reservoir have the real potential of an accident waiting to happen. The effects of an earthquake, a lighting strike, an oil spill, mercury, or brown slag contaminants leaching into the aquifer within this water shed would cause serious and permanent harm to the source of drinking water for many Wyoming County residents.

The Attica reservoir is designated as one of 28 class “A” reservoirs in the State of New York (newyorkhometownlocator.com). This class “A” reservoir is under the jurisdiction of the Attica Village Town Board which is empowered to set policy and establish procedures on all aspects related to protecting this valuable source of drinking water. Historically, these town officials have exercised exceptional diligence in protecting the reservoir and maintaining the natural environment that surrounds this important body of water. However, the proposal for construction of industrial wind turbines within the publicly designated Attica watershed poses a new and unique challenge that Attica village officials must seriously address. Hopefully, their deliberations and decisions will be guided by a most recent New York State Supreme Court decision (Hon. David Michael Barry, Jan. 9, 2009) which “set aside and annulled” the Monroe County Town of Hamlin wind energy law because it violated the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) as it neither took a “hard look” at the relevant areas of environmental concern nor set forth a “reasoned elaboration” for its determination that the wind energy law would not have a significant impact on the environment. The Hamlin Town Board chose to ignore the recommendations of the town’s Wind Energy Committee for 1,500 foot setbacks from roads and property lines, and 2,640 foot (half-mile) setbacks from residences.

As expressed by the plaintiffs’ attorney, … ” industrial wind development must, at a minimum, protect its residents’ health, maintain the town’s rural character, and preserve property values by establishing meaningful setback requirements and noise standards.” (ajglaw@verizon.net).

Enforcement of this Supreme Court decision in Orangeville, as well as on the permiters of the Attica reservoir, along with an adoption of the Hamlin wind energy committee’s recommended setback requirements, will effectively eliminate any potential damage that could occur to the Attica reservoir through industrial wind turbine development and its proven environmental liabilities.

(A personal addendum: Our family property is located within the publicly designated watershed for the Attica reservoir. In October 2008, this writer, his wife and family were approached by a representative from the Invenergy Corporation requesting that we sign a setback waiver “compensation” agreement permitting wind turbine construction as close as 1,000 feet from our residence or 150 feet from our property line. Curiously, the Orangeville Town Board has not yet made public its new setback requirements. Our family and our attorney retain an unsigned copy of this agreement.)

Dr. Joseph A. Zampogna lives in Orangeville.

Source:  By Joseph Zampogna, The Daily News, thedailynewsonline.com 23 January 2009

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

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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