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‘Credible’ report on turbines’ impacts urged

BOURNE – Residents criticized the state for not interviewing people living near wind turbines and urged it to conduct an epidemiological study of turbines’ health impact in a public meeting held at Bourne High School Thursday.

In total, about 70 residents from at least a dozen towns, including groups from Fairhaven and Falmouth, attended the meeting to share their experiences and thoughts with state Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Public Health representatives. At the state’s request, many also made recommendations for next steps.

“I just want to go on record requesting an epidemiological study before you form any regulations,” said Kathy Palmer of Falmouth in a statement that was echoed by many speakers.

“I can’t find where you interviewed a single victim of adverse health effects or a single doctor who treated them. Those people exist,” said Bruce Mandel of Nantucket.

Fairhaven residents went even further in their request, asking the state to do a pre- and post-turbine assessment of residents within a specified distance from Fairhaven’s turbine site. One Fairhaven speaker, Louise Bartow, said the state should contact all turbine abutters within a 2-kilometer distance before the turbines become operational, then compare their statements with those made after the turbines are up and running for a better assessment of the impact on people.

“You could add some credibility to a report that does not feel very credible,” Bartow said.

The public meeting was the second of three scheduled to allow state officials to hear directly from people about their experiences with wind turbines. A third and final meeting will be held in Lee on Feb. 28 and written comment will be accepted until March 19.

The public meetings were scheduled following the release of a state report about the effects of wind turbines in January. The report studied existing research and did not find evidence of direct health impacts from turbines. However, authors did note that some wind turbines can cause sleep disruptions and recommended additional study in some areas.

Close to 50 people signed up to speak during the meeting and, in an attempt to hear everyone, the state extended the listening time past its 8 p.m. scheduled finish.

Stephen Maher, from state Sen. Therese Murray’s office, kicked off the conversation reading a statement from the Senate president that said the state needs to site wind turbines responsibly.

“I have a strong belief that industrial-size wind turbines do not belong in residential neighborhoods,” Murray wrote.

Several Fairhaven residents noted their community has been divided by the wind issue.

“We have neighbor against neighbor”¦because you put out this report before you actually talked to people,” said Dawn Devlin.

MassDEP Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell said the state has not made up its mind on wind.

“The movement toward a different type of energy cannot be made at the expense of people’s health and enjoyment of property,” he said.

Not all present had concerns about wind turbines. The developer of one of the Falmouth turbines said his office is 600 feet from the turbine and he has never experienced symptoms nor even heard the turbine from inside his office.

Daniel Webb said his turbine has “prevented emissions of 3,500 tons of CO2 since it was installed in July of 2010.”

Written statements on the subject may be sent to WindTurbineDocket.MassDEP@MassMail.State.MA.US or MassDEP Wind Turbine Docket, One Winter Street, Fourth Floor, Boston, MA 02108.