In his tirade in The Standard-Times on Jan. 27 (“Letter: Comments at forum were repulsive”), Brian Bowcock described the wind forum crowd as hostile. But in a report on the 25th titled “Fairhaven Wind explains project to civil crowd,” Beth Perdue reported that attendees “were both orderly and civil, listening intently to information presented.”
Clearly, Mr. Bowcock is misrepresenting turbine opponents as fanatical and hostile to deflect attention from the fact that turbines were shown to be neither safe nor economically sustainable.
He has also completely distorted my comments to avoid the still unanswered ethical questions about the siting of large industrial turbines in dense residential neighborhoods. While I did describe the turbines as an ominous experiment on human subjects; I did not link any actions by anyone to the Nazi atrocities, as he claims.
As with Ms. Perdue’s report, anyone who wishes can check by watching the forum on the public access TV.
I did introduce questions prompted by the Nuremberg Code at the very end of my remarks, but I only described the historical context of the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi war criminals because I asked the audience and they were not familiar with it. Since I was not granted sufficient time to explain why this ethical code is altogether fitting and proper to discuss in the context of an experiment on human subjects, let me do that now.
The Nuremberg Code is a set of stringent ethical guidelines for protecting the human rights and safety during experiments on human subjects. The principles embodied in this code are the basis for the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations for the U.S Dept. of Health and Human Services regarding all federally funded research. As such, it is the model adopted by the National Institutes for Health and used by institutional review boards for ethical research protocols on human subjects, as well as the foundation of the Helsinki Declaration, widely considered to be the cornerstone of ethical research on humans. Unlike these more modern versions, the Nuremberg Code was written in simple, non-clinical terminology. This makes It the perfect vehicle for posing very serious ethical questions with an audience that is not medically trained, especially questions about whether it is fair to subject Fairhaven residents to the adverse health effects by forcing them to live near industrial turbines against their will.
After spending most of my talk showing that there is overwhelming and compelling evidence that turbines do make many people sick, it would be unconscionable to avoid these ethical questions – as Selectmen Bowcock, Michael Sylvia and Charles Murphy have done and continue to do. When Sumul Shah of Fairhaven Wind LLC stated that if one of the turbines catches fire the plan is to just let them burn out; Fire Chief Tim Francis made no comments and expressed no concern. Apparently, if you live near the turbines, you have to hope the wind does not blow in your direction while an industrial-class fire rages some 275 feet in the air. Mr. Shah assured listeners that turbine fires are rare, but conceded that the Wind Wise estimates of 75 in the last five years are probably correct. The latest was in Scotland less than two weeks ago. Town officials seem comfortable rolling the dice with the health and safety of their experimental subjects.
As town Counsel Thomas Crotty speculated in court, “Maybe there’s harm; maybe there isn’t.” Who is really dangerous, here? Who is really reprehensible?
Mr. Bowcock asks “What next? Charge the people involved with crimes against humanity?” It is interesting that he is concerned about this. If he feels the need to defend himself from such charges, some good answers to a few these questions may help:
• Did you notify residents about potentially serious illness from exposure to turbines?
• Did you give residents a chance to opt out of this experiment?
• Did you take every reasonable precaution to protect public health and safety?
• Did you ensure that turbines are far away from residents, schools and recreation?
• Do you have plans to monitor health to see if people are getting sick?
• Do you have plans to stop the turbines when people do get sick?
• Will you compensate people for any injury or harm caused by them?
A no answer to any of these is ethically reprehensible in my view.
One more point to awaken you from your autocratic slumber, Mr. Bowcock. I do not need anyone’s permission or approval – least of all yours – to discuss infrasound, health or morally bankrupt officials. I am not a legal expert, but I am confident that it says so in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Curt Devlin lives in Fairhaven
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