In their latest effort to shed light on the possible adverse health impacts of Industrial wind turbines (IWT), Saugeen Turbine Operation Policy, or STOP, held a second public meeting Thursday evening at Lakeshore Recreation in Port Elgin.
It was no surprise there was a large turnout of concerned residents and supporters for STOP, an advocacy group who has been relentless in their fight to halt the operation of the Canadian Auto Worker’s 500kw turbine at the Family Education Centre, which they believe will directly impact the health and safety of 4,000 Saugeen Shores residents.
The focus of Thursday night’s meeting was the ill affects of infrasound. STOP invited special guest, independent researcher Carmen Krogh, to speak to the crowd. Krogh has volunteered her time in research and has reported her concerns on the adverse affects of industrial wind turbines on human health. According to STOP, Krogh was the first investigator in Canada to carry out self reporting surveys of people reporting adverse health impacts as the result of the construction and operation of wind turbine installations near homes. She has written several articles, not only on clinical symptoms, but the loss of social justice.
“I’ve done all this work on my own hook,” Krogh explained. “I don’t take money or honorariums and the research has been at my own expense.”
From day one, Krogh said her objective was to prevent harm, get the siting right, have the research done and find out where turbines should be placed and how far away from humans.
Much of her presentation focused on the stress affects of exposure and clinical annoyance.
“We find that the number one complaint that people come forward with is sleep disturbance,” she explained to the crowd.
Krogh compared low decibel noise annoyance of IWTs to road, rail and air noise.
“At that 40 decibel level research has shown people are annoyed,” she explained. “We seem to be able to stand or tolerate noise from air, road and rail.”
Annoyance, she s a health effect, with health implications such as stress, sleep interference, headaches, poor concentration and mood swings, which are caused by amplitude modulation, audible low frequency, infrasound, stray voltage and tonal noise.
Out of the five causes, Krogh focused on amplitude modulation and audible low frequency or the “swooshing” sounds that causes the sleepiness and headaches.
Moreover, Krogh addressed the adverse social impacts of IWTs such as social dislocation, early retirement, relocation, and property values, as well as legal actions.
A series of questions were posed by the audience for Krogh and the panel of experts at the meeting.
The main concern at the meeting was infrasound and electrical emissions from an IWT. One concerned Saugeen Shores resident wondered if there was a monitoring system to measure the current frequency versus the frequency in a month’s time when the turbine in operating?
Panel expert Bill Palmer, a licensed engineer and member of the Canadian and American Acoustical Association said infrasound is not easy to monitor.
Palmer said he knew of one resident in Port Elgin who has contracted a consultant to come in and do infrasound monitoring at one individual home, but explained the Ministry of the Environment does not have the equipment to do the testing for infrasound and no specific plans were in place.
Greg Schmalz, spokesperson for STOP, said he was in discussion with the noise monitoring team from the University of Waterloo.
“I can share with you that their intention, should they come in and do the noise monitoring, is to come in and measure both types of sound,” he explained. “So as our group gets closer to arriving at a middle ground we will be the first ones to share that information.”
Another concerned resident wanted to know what it would be like to feel the effects of infrasound from a first hand perspective.
Barb Ashbee, who also sat on the panel and who had to give up her home in the Shelburne area because of wind turbines 400 meters from her home, experienced sleep disturbance and headaches immediately after the IWTs were installed.
“Probably the worst thing, is that you can’t shut it off,” she explained. “You can shut off the fan on your stove, pull out your refrigerator, but noise inside your house is cyclical, it goes on and on and on.”
Ashbee said it does not matter who you phone and who you plead for help with, there is no help.
“The evidence is overwhelming and this government will not do anything,” she They have no regulation to monitor noise inside you house; to monitor dirty electricity or infrasound… so they don’t do anything.”
“I wanted the MOE to figure out, is it electrical, is it low frequency, what is it? And they couldn’t do it, they don’t have the capacity or expertise to do it.”
Other concerns raised at the meeting were not the impacts on humans, but rather the decline of wildlife because of infrasound.
Keith Stelling, a founding member of Wind Concerns Ontario, who has written a number of papers on environmental effects of the low frequency sound, said the breeding of animals living close to turbines is affected along with the their ability to defend themselves, as animals rely on their sensitive hearing mechanisms.
“We are losing a lot of the biodiversity in Ontario already,” he said.
Another member of the audience lives near a proposed project of 142 IWT in her community north of Goderich. Living on the lakeshore she said she is in contact with a lot of people from Toronto and London. One of her neighbours hears talk in Toronto about April’s protest rally where concern is high that Ontario rural residents are NIMBYS.
“He said what we need to get to urban Ontario, where the votes are… is the economics don’t work and… there has been a sabotage in global democracy,” she said. “We need to get that word out.”
Panel expert and deputy mayor of Arran Elderslie Mark Davis agreed.
“I’ve seen farmers in tears,” he said. “This is real, this is very real.”
Davis said rural Ontarians need to bring those in the city up to speed, which is not always easy.
In order to do just that, Schmalz announced there will be a bus leaving from Kincardine and stopping in Saugeen Shores at Wal-mart to drive to Toronto and show opposition to feed-in-tariff meetings on April 3.
Further, STOP’s protest parade has been rescheduled for April 21.
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