In summary, the first recommendation said that sensitive "receptors" or residents living close to turbines, should continue to be monitored to insure the 40-decible sound level is in compliance. Jordan said if this isn't met, companies will be asked to take "voluntary" action to remedy the situation, from shutting down the turbine when high winds create noise that exceed the guidelines, slowing the turbine, or installing indoor noise monitoring devices, to construction of physical barriers to protect receptors from sound. Jordan said if problems persist and companies don't take action against concerns of neighbours, the province may take legal action or issue fines until companies are compliant.
The Province of Ontario is touting a report as “confirmation” that there are no health effects from industrial wind turbines.
The Ministry of Environment announced Friday, Dec. 16 that its “expert report confirms” there are no direct health effects from turbines at Ontario’s regulated setback distance of 550-metres.
“Our priority is to develop renewable energy in a way that protects Ontarians,” said Environment minister Jim Bradley. “This report finds that we are on the right track by taking a cautious approach when setting standards for wind turbine setbacks and sound limits.”
Kate Jordan of MOE media relations, said Friday the “literature review” is not a study of recent findings regarding the impact of wind turbines on existing projects like those in Huron-Bruce, but a review of existing studies compiled from Europe and the United States in comparison over the last 35 years, with Ontario’s current regulations and the opinions of the Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health included.
Asked why areas like Huron-Bruce weren’t considered for the report, since it’s currently dealing with significant conflict surrounding wind turbines and is known as one of the richest areas for wind resources, Jordan said Europe is “more advanced” when it comes to wind turbine development and the information was readily available.
“A lot of work has been done internationally that’s already available as they have more experience there,” said Jordan.
Aside from writing off the concerns of numerous taxpayers complaining of health impacts from industrial wind turbines within the Municipality of Kincardine and Huron-Kinloss, along with the potential impacts of sound to residents near Port Elgin’s now-under-construction CAW wind turbine, the government has issued four recommendations that Jordan said will see the MOE adapt as more information comes forward.
In summary, the first recommendation said that sensitive “receptors” or residents living close to turbines, should continue to be monitored to insure the 40-decible sound level is in compliance. Jordan said if this isn’t met, companies will be asked to take “voluntary” action to remedy the situation, from shutting down the turbine when high winds create noise that exceed the guidelines, slowing the turbine, or installing indoor noise monitoring devices, to construction of physical barriers to protect receptors from sound. Jordan said if problems persist and companies don’t take action against concerns of neighbours, the province may take legal action or issue fines until companies are compliant.
The second is a continued monitoring of technical developments and the adaptation of regulatory policies worldwide.
“Ontario will continue to monitor this evolving science’s technical developments, and any emerging regulatory policies introduced in other countries,” the report reads.
The third recommendation refers to issues surrounding low frequency sound levels and its impact indoors, as it changes in different environments and differs from sound reception outdoors and should be implemented in provincial protocols dealing with complaints.
“It is recommended that the MOE consider adopting or developing a protocol to provide guidance for addressing such complaints…. given the significant variation in sound impact from house to house,” the report reads.
The fourth and final recommendation refers to infrasound, which “is not expected to be heard by humans or pose an issue for human health.” On that note, the report recommends that “routine measurement of infrasonic sound pressure levels” from operating “is not warranted to the same degree that the measurement and monitoring of overall… sound pressure levels.”
“Nonetheless, there are aspects of infrasound from wind turbines that are not unanimously accepted by all technical and medical practicioners and there remains a degree of public apprehension associated with infrasound,” the recommendation reads. “It is therefore recommended that the MOE consider adopting or endorsing measurement procedures described in the literature that could be used to quantify infrasonic levels in specific situations.”
Jordan said the MOE will continue to monitor complaints from existing wind turbines in regards to noise issues. She said in cases like the CAW turbine, the MOE asked the proponent to downgrade the turbine from 800kw to 500kw, as well as reevaluating their noise modelling and assessment data in regards to their Certificate of Approval for noise.
“We will continue to work with communities and respond to noise complaints,” she said.
The study was a compilation of 100 reports conducted by noise, vibration and acoustics “experts” Howe Gastmeier Chapnik Limited (HGC Engineering). The report was assembled by Alberto Behar, a University of Toronto Research Assistant, Colin Tickell, a senior consultant on acoustics and the environment with HATCH and associates, and Dr. Gilles Daigle, principle consultant with MG Acoustics.
“Ontario will continue to monitor this evolving science’s technical developments, and any emerging regulatory policies introduced in other countries,” the release said.
Wind Concerns Ontario said in an e-mail Monday that the “one-year-old report smacks of desperation as claims of health effects from the environmental noise are on the rise around the world,” said president Jane Wilson.
Wilson said the literature review can’t address the current issues surrounding wind turbines in the Kincardine and surrounding areas, as it was written beforehand. Because of this, it does not refer to the finding so the recent Environmental Review Tribunal in Ontario, which found that “there is no question” of harm to human health from industrial wind turbines, if they are placed too close to people,” she said.
“The judgement of that Tribunal was that Ontario needs to rely on better science to create regulations to protect citizens’ health and safety,” said Wilson. “This report is not that science.”
Wilson said the World Health Organization has documented the reports of potential for ill health from the Kincardine-area specifically, as she recognizes those who “have become ill from the exposure to the the environmental noise and infrasound” from turbines.
“For Ontario to ignore people like this and continue to promote industrial development which is resulting in what can only be called an environmental illness at this point, is unconscionable,” said Wilson.
The report is viewable on the MOE website at http://news.ontario.ca/ene/en/2011/12/expert-report-confirms-no-direct-health-effects-from-wind-turbines.html
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