The marshes, the I-95 corridor and the residents of East Saugus could again be under assault. No, it’s not RESCO wanting to expand their toxic carcinogen-laced ash dump across 107. Nor is it the U.S. Army Corps wishing to remove more sand for Revere Beach erosion control. It isn’t even the Massachusetts legislature crafting another back room deal to sell the I-95 property back to the original land owners to build dog kennels as was attempted in the late 1980s.
This time it could be Saugus Town Meeting, through Article 46, a zoning change that would allow industrial wind turbines to be constructed in any non-residential district. This article, proposed by the Saugus Alternative Energy Committee, purportedly is put forth to “protect” the residents of Saugus. Yet clearly the article will allow industrial wind turbines, up to 400 feet high, to be sited within 300 feet of a residential area.
Without such a bylaw turbines are currently not allowed in Saugus. Building Inspector Fred Varone confirmed to me he would not have the authority to issue a permit for industrial wind turbines. So, why the rush?
At first blush, the concept of renewable energy being created by wind turbines in Saugus, seems like a great idea. My mind was open and I even drafted an amendment to enhance this bylaw until I was made aware of what was happening to people living near wind turbines.
Wind turbines also seemed like a great idea to the people of Falmouth until they began to experience a health phenomena know as “Wind Turbine Syndrome.” If you Google “Neil Anderson Falmouth” you will see he was once a turbine proponent. Once built and operational, his health was dramatically affected.
In spite of claims to the contrary, wind turbines do make noise. They make noise you can hear (audible) and noise you cannot hear (sub-audible). Wind turbines vibrate both the air and the ground. If your home happens to be within two miles of the turbine it can act as a speaker device and thus amplify the sound. Your body becomes a receptor of these effects and it has been proven that there can be a harmful impact on the body’s vestibular system.
The vestibular system is the all-important mechanism that controls our balance and spatial awareness. In addition to the “noise” issues, the turbine blades create “shadow flicker,” the impact of which would make it seem like you have a strobe going inside and outside of your home.
Reports from all over the world are coming in now about the collection of health problems referred to as “Wind Turbine Syndrome.” Dr. Nina Pierpoint wrote a book about this and the chair of the Saugus Alternative Energy Committee has it.
According to epidemiologist Dr. Carl Phillips, there is now “overwhelming evidence that substantial health problems occur to nearby residents.” Problems such as sleep loss, fatigue, mood differentiation, hypertension, and balance problems.
Dr. Phillips states that there is “ample evidence” that 5 percent of those living near turbines will experience serious health problems while others will experience some problems.
Please don’t take my word for it. Simply Google “Dr. Phillips testimony Lee County” or search for a documentary called “Pandora’s Pinwheels,” or enter “Falmouth Wind Turbine shut due to noise.” Also Google the Laura Israel’s documentary “Windfall” about the horrific experience in Meredith, N.Y.
When I posed all of these concerns in an e-mail to the Saugus Town Meeting members and also to Joanne Vannah, the chairman of the Saugus Alternative Energy Committee, she replied, “At the present time, there is not enough research to truly understand the relationship between infrasound and potential harmful effects of the turbines. However, I do strongly support more research in this area and suspect it will be a necessary move forward in the interest of public health.”
She also brought forth an opposing viewpoint that she characterizes as “compelling information.”
In her reply to my e-mail and to all Town Meeting members on the e-mail list she states there are, “therapeutic effects of infrasound . . . that include the breakup of arterial blockages, stabilization of the progression of myopia (nearsightedness in children) and relaxation/healing effects.”
So, if I am to understand the reasoning behind Article 46, this coming Monday I should vote “yes” to protect Saugus from that which is now not allowed in our zoning, and so the people on or near Saugus Avenue, Lewis Lane, Baker Hill, Seagirt Avenue, Venice Avenue, and Beachview Avenue can experience better blood flow, improved eyesight, and more relaxation?
Under that scenario property values should rise, unlike the property values that have plummeted in areas near newly constructed industrial wind turbines. Imagine having to retreat to your basement just to get a night’s sleep?
Saugus Town Meeting should also be aware that the town of Duxbury, now managed by Saugus native Richard MacDonald, has rejected wind turbines in favor of solar energy. The Duxbury Board of Health has taken a strong stand against supporting the future siting of wind turbines within that community until the adverse health impacts are better understood.
The Duxbury board has, in writing, urged the State Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Public Health to engage in the proper studies and testing in order to help our cities and towns be able to develop bylaws that truly protect our residents from harm.
The residents of Falmouth have also been requesting our state officials to perform definitive tests. Unfortunately, as of this date, our state officials have been slow to engage on the necessary testing and studies in spite of an official letter to Gov. Deval Patrick.
For those who feel there is an economic opportunity for Saugus, the recent letter from the Princeton Light Department to their electric ratepayers will illustrate the financial boondoggle that entity is now in due to falling energy prices, cost overruns, unexpected breakdowns, and poor performance. Will Saugus really borrow and invest $10 million or more in wind turbines that according to Dr. Phillips will make at least five out of 100 nearby Saugonians very sick?
Ms. Vannah makes my case when she stated in her e-mail: “I do strongly support more research in this area and suspect it will be a necessary move forward in the interest of public health.”
As I See it, in the absence of research, there should be a moratorium placed on all wind turbine installation and zoning changes; in the absence of research there should be no zoning changes presented or considered that may open the door to wind turbine installations. In the absence of research and in view of the fact that there are many unanswered quality of life issue questions, how, in the best interest of their constituency, can any Saugus Town Meeting member possibly vote to move the process forward?