The Oregon Public Health Division released a draft report this week, disclosing its preliminary findings on the potential health impacts of wind farms in the state.
The agency is seeking public comment and already the report (available for download here) is starting to make waves.
At issue are the potential impacts of wind projects on neighbors, including noise, visual impacts, air pollution, economic effects and community conflict.
Of these, noise has commonly been cited as the biggest potential health risk and received the most attention from the study. Factors such as economic impact and air pollution were deemed by the agency to be affected positively by wind development.
Noise proved a bit more challenging because studies have shown that the swishing noise of turning turbines, which don’t necessarily stop turning after dark, can conceivably result in health impacts. Studies on the long-term health effects of the noise aren’t conclusive, the report notes, but the potential for problems exist.
“The potential impacts from wind turbine sound could range from moderate disturbance to serious annoyance, sleep disturbance and decreased quality of life,” the report concludes.
While there are regulations in place requiring wind developers to take noise levels into consideration when planning wind developments, the public health division recommends more aggressive strategies to reduce potential noise impact.
Advocates for better wind farm noise control will likely embrace the report’s findings, but renewable energy advocates are also cheering the results, which they say debunk many of the myths of the health dangers of wind farms.
John Audley, Renewable Northwest Project’s deputy director, served on the steering committee and applauded the draft report.
“Scientific studies like this one are extremely important and have our organization’s full support,” Audley said in a statement on the RNP website. “Renewable Northwest Project favorably receives the majority of the report draft and takes it as added validation of our mission to advance the responsible development of clean renewable energy in our region.”
The health impact assessment process will collect public comment on the draft report until March 30, 2012. Public information sessions are scheduled in Pendleton on March 20 and in Bend on March 21.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding