CRISFIELD – A plan to build a 750-kilowatt wind turbine next to Crisfield’s sewage treatment plant drew concern from residents about possible health effects, and seafood dealers worried pressure and noise could hurt soft crabs in nearby shedding operations.
“The whoosh whoosh (of the turbine blades) could drive them crazy,” said Pat Reese Sr. of Southern Connection Seafood during a public hearing this week. “It could be a $500,000 loss.”
Ben White, manager at the nearby Handy Co., said any negative effects would be felt by more than one company.
“You’re looking at reducing income of 30 watermen on my property alone,” he said.
But proponents of wind energy said there is no hard evidence to suggest that turbines create anything more than clean energy.
Shawn Lackett, a representative of a Massachusetts-based turbine company, said naysayers should look at the town of Hull, Mass. It has two turbines, including one at the local high school.
There has been no negative impact on oyster farming in the area and only one noise complaint in 11 years, he said.
“The town has not only embraced the turbines, they’re looking at an offshore operation,” Lackett said.
Crisfield City Councilman Mike Atkins, a physician at McCready Hospital, cited a recent study done by the state of Massachusetts that found no evidence of health problems, disease, mental distress, high blood pressure or headaches among people living near wind turbines.
The light flicker caused by the rotating blades does not cause seizures because the blades don’t move fast enough to create a strobe effect, he said.
The experts on the study panel, which included professors at Harvard Medical School, agreed more study was needed to find out if turbines can cause sleep disturbances, Atkins said.
City officials plan to place a turbine at the end of Dixon Street to provide power to the sewer plant and save the city $150,000-$200,000 a year, said Jason Loar, the project engineer.
The project still needs permits from various state and federal agencies, but Loar said he has been in communication with all of them since the beginning.
“We don’t anticipate any major issues,” he said.
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