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Turbine opponents air their woes

FALMOUTH – Residents packed into town hall for a board of health hearing for those suffering ill effects from Falmouth’s wind turbines.

The board, which scheduled the meeting about two weeks ago in reaction to residents’ complaints, sought to gather comments from those experiencing negative health because of the turbines. The board will then deliver their statements to the state Department of Public Health, which will offer guidance.

About 70 people filled the selectmen’s meeting room Thursday night, with some pouring out into the hall, ready and willing to share their stories. Speakers were required to submit written testimony and speak only about how the turbines affected their personal health.

Before the turbines went up about two years ago, abutters were led to believe the machines would stand about half the size of Wind 1 and Wind 2, said Diane Funfar, who lives about 1,600 feet from both 1.65-megawatt town-owned turbines, which stand at the wastewater treatment plant on Blacksmith Shop Road.

The noise and subsequent headaches and vertigo led her husband, who she said suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, to increase his alcohol consumption.

“Our lives were turned upside down,” Funfar said. “He became worse than he was before he started receiving treatment in 2003.”

Several people also complained about effects from the privately owned Vestas turbine near the town-owned machines.

Mark Cool, an air traffic controller who lives on Fire Tower Road, said lost sleep from turbine noise almost led to tragedy earlier this month.

At work, he said, he was nearly responsible for a midair collision.

“This near midair collision event was my first in 32 years,” Cool told the board. “Err on the side of caution, err on the side of me, those people on those planes, and their families.”

Of the nearly 30 people who testified, only Paul Lorusso, who lives about 3,000 feet from Wind 1, said the turbine presented little to no problems for him and his family.

“I would say we honestly have had no sleep issues; we’re in the backyard all the time,” Lorusso said, adding that he notices flickering light from the turbine in his living room some mornings, but just pulls down his shades.

Board members cut off Joanne Vannah, a Saugus resident who began speaking in favor of turbines, declaring her out of order.

However, the board allowed several people speaking out against the turbines to deviate from the prescribed line of speech, including state Rep. Timothy R. Madden, R-Nantucket, who offered state assistance, and David Moriarty, a Falmouth resident who decried a lack of state involvement.

The meeting came less than two weeks after the town shut off Wind 1 after the state Department of Environmental Protection released a study that found the turbine exceeded state noise limits at night.

Sound from the turbine exceeded the 10 decibels above the ambient noise limits at 211 Blacksmith Shop Road on all four nights of sampling, according to the study.

The turbine will remain off for another 21 days while the DEP measures decibel levels during the day.