June 16, 2010

Wind turbines pose groundwater, health issues, panel says

Written by Tony Walter, Green Bay Press-Gazette, www.greenbaypressgazette.com 16 June 2010

Board of Health advises against wind farms in southern Brown County

The Brown County Board of Health, citing the threat to groundwater contamination as its chief reason, has recommended that no wind turbines be built in the county’s southern region where a 100-turbine wind farm has been proposed.

Board Chairwoman Audrey Murphy said the history of well contamination and concerns about the impact of noise and shadow flicker “make this area unsuitable for a wind farm.”

Its recommendation will be sent to the Public Service Commission, which is taking public comments on the wind turbine issue until July 6. The PSC has the authority to decide if wind farms can be constructed and is currently awaiting proposals from a wind siting council.

Invenergy LLC, a Chicago-based company, wants to build wind turbines in the towns of Morrison, Wrightstown, Glenmore and Holland and is awaiting siting rules from the PSC.

The Board of Health was asked to study the potential health and safety risks of wind farms. Its report will be forwarded to the Human Services Committee, with a resolution likely going to the County Board at its July 20 meeting.

The members of the Board of Health also endorsed a proposed resolution from Land and Water Conservation Department Director Bill Hafs that asks the PSC to require Invenergy to pay for a full-time county staff member to monitor the construction and operation of the wind farm, if it’s eventually approved.

Asked if he thinks Morrison – where 54 of the 100 wind turbines are proposed – is a safe place for a wind farm, Hafs said, “Without a staff person there, my opinion is no.”

The region is noted for its karst topography, cracked bedrock that led to the contamination of dozens of wells in Morrison in 2006. The area is used for the spreading of animal and industrial waste, which have been blamed for much of the contamination.

Dr. Jay Tibbetts, a member of the Board of Health, said there is ample evidence that wind turbines might cause health and safety issues. He mentioned noise and shadow flickers in addition to the groundwater problem.

“They shouldn’t build here, period,” Tibbetts said.

In its report to the Human Services Committee, the board is recommending that there be a minimum setback range of 2,640 to 3,168 feet from a turbine to an occupied structure. It also is proposing that the World Health Organization’s maximum 30-decibel standard be adopted.

Three representatives of the Brown County Citizens for Responsible Wind Energy attended the meeting. No Invenergy officials attended.

Invenergy submitted its original application to the PSC in 2009, but will resubmit it after the siting rules have been adopted.

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2010/06/16/wind-turbines-pose-groundwater-health-issues-panel-says/