FAIRHAVEN – Karen Isherwood’s teacup Chihuahua, Hercules, barked at Kevin McKenna as he entered her backyard on Teal Circle Thursday afternoon. A tire swing hanging from a Locust tree swayed in the breeze as tips of wind turbine blades peeked out from above the trees, powering the town’s wastewater treatment plant less than a half-mile away.
“This is better than yesterday,” McKenna said, looking at the turbine and crossing his arms. “We’re on the less noisy side today.”
The wind was blowing no more than 13 mph, but the woosh sound of the turbines was distinct in Isherwood’s yard.
“It’s the looping that drives you crazy,” Isherwood said. “This isn’t as loud as it gets. It goes from a plane, to like you’re living on a highway, to a train always passing by.”
The turbines were first activated on May 1, and in the nine days since then, the Fairhaven Board of Health has received 14 complaints about them. Seven of the complaints were from the same person, but all complaints were from residents living in the general vicinity of the turbines.
Board chairman Peter DeTerra said Thursday night the complaints will be addressed.
“We have a form on the website and we have received 14 complaints from people in Teal Circle, Weeden Road and the Route 6/Mill Road area.” He said some are repeat callers.
The complaints will be analyzed and forwarded to the developer, Sumul Shah, but DeTerra said he could not estimate how long a response might take.
Shah could not be reached for comment Thursday night.
Isherwood said she has complained to the board numerous times this week, when the rainy and windy weather made the turbine noises unbearable and kept her up at night.
“In the day I put on the TV to drown it out, but I can’t sleep with the TV on,” she said.
McKenna, whose wife was recently elected to the School Committee with the help of WindWise, said the more time he spends around the turbines, the more aggravated he is by the noise.
“When you come here for five minutes, or an hour, you can hear it, but the longer you hang out around them the more you know what to look for, and it gets under your skin,” he said.
McKenna has not filed a complaint with the Board of Health but said he “is close to it” if the flicker continues.
Isherwood admits she was opposed to the turbines before they were constructed. She is on medication for thyroid cancer and bipolar disorder and said proponents of the turbines are skeptical of the machine’s effects on her because of her medical problems.
“I know I’m more irritable than the average person but, believe me, you don’t want to be impacted by the turbines because then people just think you’re insane,” she said. “But they don’t live here.”
In January, a report on the health effects of wind turbine, commissioned by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, was issued by an independent panel of scientific experts.
The report concluded that “the weight of evidence suggests no association between noise from wind turbines and measures of psychological distress or mental health problems.”
The report also concluded “it is possible that noise from some wind turbines can cause sleep disruption,” which can in turn “adversely affect mood (and) cognitive functioning.”
Peter Goben lives across the circle from Isherwood. He is both a supporter of Windwise and alternative energy, which he thinks “can do a lot of good.”
Being affected by turbines, to him, is like getting seasickness because “some people do, others don’t.”
Goben was in his backyard Thursday afternoon digging a grave for his recently deceased dog, Simba.
“Sometimes you just get this pulsating sound like there’s an electric base in your house,” he said. “Other times, it’s like a jet engine is hovering over you. We didn’t ask for this,” he added.
“I mean, my grandkids play out here.”
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