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Statewide coalition calls for transparency

Brimfield, MA – August 16, 2011 – Wind Wise ~ Massachusetts, a state-wide coalition of community organizations and citizens, today announced it is asking the MA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the MA Dept. of Public Health (DPH) to go public with the proceedings of the wind science panel studying the health effects of wind turbines.

The state-wide organization made its decision due to lack of transparency in selecting panel members, secrecy of the panel proceedings, narrow scope of work and potential bias of at least some of the panel members.

In addition, the timing of the convening of the secret panel is also brought into question when a bill to establish a more comprehensive and open Commission to study the health effects of wind turbines has been filed and will have a hearing in October.

In making the announcement, Barbara Durkin of Northboro, a member of Wind Wise ~ Massachusetts stated, “We are completely committed to a comprehensive and independent study of the health risks posed by wind turbines. We are equally committed to opposing a flawed study that jeopardizes the health and safety of the citizens of Massachusetts.”

Residents from throughout the Commonwealth have become increasingly alarmed at reports from people living in proximity to wind turbines around the world who are reporting severe health problems.

On June 2, 2010, the group of concerned citizens now known as Wind Wise ~ Massachusetts wrote a letter to DPH Commissioner Auerbach requesting a formal independent study be undertaken by the state to review the growing body of research on the health problems being reported by people living near wind turbines.

On July 30, 2010 members of the statewide coalition and two MA State Representatives met with Commissioner Auerbach to present evidence and reassert the need for an independent study concerning the adverse health impacts of wind turbines.

This spring the state announced the formation of a panel of experts to formally investigate the topic. Members of Wind Wise met with DPH officials on May 3, 2011 and were told that the panel would be composed of totally unbiased and independent experts, and that the panel’s review process would be open to members of the public.

Wind Wise has learned that the selection of the panel was done in secret, its scope of work was developed in secret, and the panel recently held its first meeting in secret. Further, Wind Wise has been formally notified that all of the meetings of the panel would be closed to members of the public. Barry Cosgrove of Wareham, an attorney and member of the Wind Wise ~ Massachusetts legal subcommittee, stated, “the expert panel already met in secret, and this may well be in violation of the state’s Open Meeting Law.”

Virginia Irvine of Brimfield, a member of the coalition’s Executive Board stated, “we also note that the backgrounds of some panel members would suggest they may be biased in favor of wind energy. We are concerned that the lack of transparency and the current composition of the panel may result in a flawed final report.”

John Ford of Falmouth stated, “Wind Wise maintains it is mandatory that the wind energy industry and developers of wind energy shoulder the burden of proof. The wind industry and proponents proclaim that wind turbines are safe, but is there sufficient evidence to support this claim? Why should Massachusetts citizens accept the risks when wind industry proponents and developers can only say there is not sufficient evidence to prove harm? Denial of harm is not the same as absence of harm. We know that people are being made physically ill because wind turbines are located too close to people all over the globe, including several locations in Massachusetts. Certainly I and fifty families in Falmouth, MA experience adverse health impacts due to living in close proximity to two wind turbines.”

On July 19, 2011, Wind Wise ~ Massachusetts submitted a letter to the Commissioners of DEP and DPH, signed by more than 400 people representing 106 MA cities and towns. The letter requested the following:

A totally unbiased panel of experts
All meetings of the panel to be held in public
The state to post online all submitted materials and comments emailed and mailed to DEP/DPH during the open comment period which ended July 22nd so that all citizens may view all submissions

The link to such site to be prominently advertised
All submissions to be reviewed by the wind science panel

Members of the public to be able to provide testimony to the panel, including people experiencing adverse health problems living near wind turbines
The information and research that the panel review for the final report and recommendations to come from independent experts, engineers, and health care professionals and not from individuals or organizations that have a financial interest in the wind energy industry
At least one seat at the table of this expert panel to be allocated to a citizen from the unfortunate group of fifty families who are physically ill in the town of Falmouth, MA and who are living with wind turbines sited too close to their homes
The DEP/DPH set up a citizens’ advisory committee to provide ongoing information to the two state agencies on the rapidly evolving evidence of the impact of wind turbines on human health
A moratorium on all wind turbine construction in MA until more research is completed

“Wind Wise ~ Massachusetts and many other Massachusetts citizens submitted hundreds of documents to DEP/DPH during the public comment period,” said Lilli-Ann Green of Wellfleet and member of the organization’s Executive Board. “Many of the documents are peer reviewed. The submissions also included numerous letters and personal stories from Massachusetts residents in locations around the state who suffer adverse health impacts from wind turbines. There are also submissions from experts and many personal accounts from people living too close to wind turbines throughout the US, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Some people who suffer severe symptoms live more than two miles from the nearest turbines,” she said.

Durkin concluded, “It is imperative that the precautionary principle be enforced and a moratorium on the building of all wind turbines in Massachusetts be immediately implemented until a totally independent and comprehensive study is concluded. It is now clear to Wind Wise ~ Massachusetts that the composition of this panel of experts is deeply flawed and we are hopeful that DEP and DPH will quickly make the necessary changes so that the health and safety of all residents of our Commonwealth is protected.”

Attached please find the list of wind science panel members and scope of work as per DEP, a letter from Wind Wise to the Commissioners of MA DEP and MA DPH, the CV of the wind science panel moderator (a risk communications and management specialist) and an email from MA resident Sue Hobart to the Falmouth, MA Board of Selectmen. (Ms. Hobart is so physically ill that she will become an industrial refugee, leaving her home so she can regain her health.)


For more information, contact:

Lilli-Ann Green: (508) 801-6211
Virginia Irvine: (413) 245-3179

[documents available at windwisema.org]