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Local health unit board member rejects wind tower study

NORTHUMBERLAND – A local health unit board member rejects the findings of an environment ministry study that there are no direct health effects from wind towers.

“The study is a year old. I don’t know why they re-released it,” Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit board member Heather Staubles said in an interview this week.

Twice she has attempted to have the local health unit call for a moratorium on new industrial wind turbine projects until clinical studies are done on the effects of the wind towers, but has been unsuccessful.

The ministry study announced recently is only a review of other studies, plus it is not the clinical study we have requested to be undertaken with people actually living near wind turbines, Staubles said.

The health board member, a councillor with the City of Kawartha Lakes, also questions the independence of the study since it was completed by a member of Canadian Wind Energy Association.

The ministry media release, meantime, states that the study it announced on Dec. 16 of this year was commissioned last year from the consulting firm of Howe Gastmeier Chapnik Limited which “reviewed the latest science and government regulations for wind turbines.” The environment ministry release described the firm as an expert in noise, vibration and acoustics, and says that it reviewed more than 100 papers and reports, also regulations and guidelines used for citing towers in other parts of Canada and the world.

There were four recommendations from the study:

• Ontario should continue with its existing approach of “assessing potential sound impacts prior to approving new wind turbines” and “adjusting limits downward for cases with strong mechanical tones”;

• the environment ministry should continue to monitor emerging science and changes in other jurisdictions. (Currently there is an on-going study of renewable energy technologies and health underway through the Ontario Council of Universities.);

• a new protocol should be put in place to address complaints about indoor noise as complaints of low frequency noise is hard to measure due to a number of factors; and

• the ministry should consider putting in place a “proven way to measure noise at infrasonic frequencies.”

The release states that the ministry will seek such a measurement procedure.