It’s not just a Falmouth problem: across the state people living near wind turbines complain of noise and health effects
Contrary to the claim of Massachusetts DEP Commissioner Ken Kimmell in a recent Boston Globe article, the noise and adverse health effects produced by a wind turbine in the town of Falmouth are not unique. In fact, wherever wind turbines are constructed too close to homes, people suffer from the noise, the consequent loss of sleep, and other chronic impacts.
The Boston Globe reported on May 16, 2012 that one of the two town-owned wind turbines in Falmouth, known as Wind I, is to be shut down temporarily due to excess noise.
Wind Turbine Syndrome experts consider 1.25 miles to be the minimum safe distance between homes and wind turbines, recognizing that serious health effects may also be experienced by people living up to six miles away or more.
The Boston Globe reports in today’s paper that “all but one of the 54 wind turbines of 100 kilowatts or larger that are operating in Massachusetts are within a mile of homes.”
Sherman Derby, a selectman in the Massachusetts town of Hancock, who lives about half a mile from the Berkshire Wind turbines, says, “You wake up sometimes at two in the morning and it sounds a jet plane. When they said it would be no louder than a vacuum cleaner, that may be but if your wife starts vacuuming next to your bed in the middle of the night, you’ll notice. It’s a heck of a roar.” He adds, “We’re up a lot of times because of the noise, we just can’t sleep.” The Berkshire Wind project consists of 10 turbines on Brodie Mountain in northwestern Massachusetts.
In the coastal town of Fairhaven, where two wind turbines recently began operation, resident John Methia says, “I live 2,000 feet away from the turbines. The sound is quite disturbing. The sound is like a jet flyover that doesn’t stop. We hoped for the best when the turbines were erected and now we fear the worst.” John Methia has another quote in today’s Boston Globe, in an article titled “Wind turbine noise is targeted in Mass.”
Karen Isherwood, who lives less than 1,500 feet from both turbines in Fairhaven, says, “I welcomed the developer to my home and he said everything would be fine. He lied to me.
“It is not just the noise volume, the sound can go anywhere from a whoosh whoosh to a traffic level to an airport. I would never purchase a home near an airport, but that’s what I’ve got here with the turbines.
“I am desperately calling out for help because I have medical issues that have been exacerbated by the noise. If I don’t get help I will have to abandon my home.”
Louise Barteau, another Fairhaven resident, says, “Last September, I rented a teaching studio space without any prior knowledge of the imminent construction of two 400-foot wind turbines approximately 1,200 feet away, which were constructed over the winter and have been operating since May 5, 2012. I have already experienced feelings of pressure behind my eyes, confusion, and nausea in the studio. I asked the landlord to let me out of my lease early, and moved out this week rather than expose myself to further symptoms.”
Ms. Barteau notes, “Seven people that live nearby to the turbines have told me and others that they are experiencing the following: pressure feelings in the head and chest; being woken out of a sound sleep with their hearts pounding; being woken up repeatedly; feelings of confusion; nausea; dizziness; and feeling that their ears are blocked. All of these people have lodged a formal complaint with the Fairhaven Board of Health and will be speaking out at a June 4th meeting of that Board.”
According to Tim Dwyer of Kingston, who lives about 1,600 feet from the nearest of the three so-called O’Donnell turbines there, “since the Kingston turbines have become operational, I have personally held conversations with local residents from multiple neighborhoods that have experienced symptoms including headaches, sleep disturbance, tinnitus, ear pressure and vertigo.”
He added, “Because the Kingston turbines were constructed with an unprecedented lack of public notice or involvement, these residents were completely unaware that their sudden and unexplained symptoms could result from living in close proximity to industrial wind turbines. I’m hopeful that the town of Kingston will follow the lead of other similarly impacted communities, and establish a method of surveying its residents to determine the true extent of the problem.”
Eleven families in Kingston have hired attorney Christopher Senie to appeal the decision of the building inspector to permit the O’Donnell wind turbines.
Speaking about the Woods Hole Research Center’s wind turbine in Falmouth, Mary Zawoysky says, “I live 900 feet from a Northwind 100 wind turbine and the effects on me are very similar to what I’ve been hearing from neighbors of the Falmouth Wind 1 and Notus 400-foot wind turbines. It’s the low frequency noise or infrasound that bombards my home so that I can’t sleep. I have never experienced anything like this and I grew up very near a dam, railroad tracks, and an airport so I am used to noise.”
There have been other first-hand reports of impacts from wind-turbine noise in newspapers around the state.
In the Berkshire Eagle, Judy Whitman of Hancock wrote a letter in which she said, “I had no strong objection at the onset but did worry about the scenery. Now that they have been in operation for almost a year, I have lots to tell you folks in south county. They do disturb the scenery and the quiet. If you live within a mile they are loud, sounding like a jet plane flying high overhead.” The letter is dated November 22, 2011.
According to the Nantucket Inquirer and Mirror, in an extensive article on wind turbine noise in its February 9, 2012 issue: “Across the street from Nantucket High School, just a few hundred feet away from the 100-kilowatt wind turbine installed in 2010, Irean Schreiber says she’s living in agony. She can’t sleep, and she complains of an accelerated heart rate, vertigo, dizziness and headaches.”
On May 18, 2012, the Barnstable-Hyannis Patch quoted Matt Weir, a Hyannis resident who lives next to the wind turbine located at Country Gardens as saying about the noise that keeps him awake every night, “I hear it day and night.”
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, of which Ken Kimmell is the commissioner, is charged under state law with regulating noise pollution.
Wind Turbine Syndrome is a term coined by Dr. Nina Pierpont to cover a range of health symptoms experienced by people where wind turbines have been constructed too close to their homes.
Wind Wise ~ Massachusetts is a statewide alliance of groups and individuals who support the responsible siting of renewable energy projects and are concerned about the negative health, environmental, and economic impacts of poorly-sited wind turbines. The alliance members are all volunteers. For more information, please visit our website, www.windwisema.org.
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