Brimfield, MA – July 25, 2011 – A statewide group of more than 400 Massachusetts residents, including doctors, psychologists, and health professionals, have petitioned the Commissioners of Public Health and Environmental Protection to declare a moratorium on the construction of new industrial wind turbines in the Commonwealth.
As residents of 106 Massachusetts cities and towns, signers of the letter urge a temporary suspension of turbine development until further research into human health effects can be conducted and safe setbacks from residential neighborhoods determined.
Organized by Wind Wise ~ Massachusetts, a coalition of local groups concerned about hazards posed by industrial wind power, the letter is addressed to John Auerbach, Commissioner of the Department of Public Health (DPH), and Kenneth Kimmel, Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
The group’s submission includes a CD containing several hundred documents, including published studies, conference presentations, personal accounts, and press reports that detail health effects from the noise and strobing associated with turbines.
“All over the world, doctors are finding sleep disturbances, headaches, tinnitus, nausea, and vertigo in people living near industrial wind turbines built too close to their homes,” said Walter F. Barnes, M.D., of Westport. “If the State, local governments, and developers continue turbine construction here without first investigating these reports and responding with protective health and safety guidelines, they will be forcing Massachusetts residents to be test subjects or unwilling guinea pigs for these projects.”
Numerous legal challenges to inappropriate wind siting and a growing number of local reviews have helped guide the group’s actions: “Oregon’s DPH is studying health effects; in Connecticut, noise, strobing, and set-back regulations must be in place before the state permits further wind plants; and towns or counties in Maine, Kansas, Illinois, Ohio, Rhode Island, New York and Ontario have voted an actual or de facto hiatus for six months or longer,” said Kurt Tramposch, a public health consultant from Wayland. “With abundant emerging evidence of wind turbine health risks—and the lack of industry or state funding for independent health studies—a Massachusetts moratorium would be prudent, and allow agencies and legislators reasonable time to review and address these complex problems.”
Several of the documents cited by Wind Wise ~ Massachusetts identify the inaudible portion of turbine sound, known as “infrasound”, as being potentially harmful to both physical and mental health. “Depending on turbine size and placement, recent research has found that some neighbors may not be bothered by the audible noise a wind turbine makes, but may still suffer ill effects from the turbine’s infrasound,” said Albert K. Weyman, M.D., of Brewster.
The group also asks to be represented on a DEP panel charged with examining the issue of noise and identifying acceptable levels of each kind. They urge that appointees to the panel should be scientists and citizens with no connection to the wind industry.
“Developers have repeatedly used misinformation to justify placing these structures too close to homes, schools and businesses,” said Virginia Irvine of Brimfield, a member of the Wind Wise ~ Massachusetts executive committee.
The group’s letter, and a 20-page catalog of accompanying documents, has also been sent to Boards of Selectmen, Planning Boards, Boards of Health, and town managers in the state’s 351 municipalities. Likewise, all of the state Senators and Representatives, as well as health organizations and officials of county governments, received the packet.
“Signers of the letter live in cities, suburbs, and rural areas from Nantucket to Williamstown,” said Lilli-Ann Green of Wellfleet, CEO of a health care education company and a member of the Wind Wise ~ Massachusetts executive committee. “Despite our diversity, we all agree that the well-being of Massachusetts citizens is the mandate of state agencies responsible for protecting the environment and public health.”
For more information, contact:
John Sears (western MA): (413) 446-8992 (c) / (413) 339-4211 (h)
Virginia Irvine (central MA): (413) 245-3179
Lilli-Ann Green (Cape Cod): (508) 801-6211
Helen Parker (Islands): (508) 645-3803
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