FAIRHAVEN – The Board of Health voted Monday night to ask the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to conduct a sound study on the town’s two wind turbines.
“We will be calling the DEP immediately about this,” Health Board Chairman Peter DeTerra said.
The decision came during a meeting filled with 25 turbine opponents in attendance to give testimonials about the adverse health effects they had been feeling since the turbines became operational in early May.
Since Fairhaven’s turbines were turned on, the board has received 130 health complaints ranging from problems with light flicker to pressure headaches to difficulty sleeping from the noise of the turbines.
The board’s decision comes less than a month after Falmouth decided to shut down one of its turbines and limit the operation of a second turbine following a DEP study that found the turbines in violation of state laws.
In Massachusetts, a turbine is considered to be in violation if it is 10 decibels louder than the area’s ambient sound.
Members of Fairhaven’s Windwise, a group opposed to the turbines, had been using Falmouth as a cautionary tale about the health problems turbines can cause.
“The difference between us and Falmouth is that we came before this health board previously and told you what was going to happen,” Windwise member John Methia said.
At the same time that the board seeks DEP help, it also voted Monday night to ask the turbines’ developer to come up with a mitigation plan to reduce the noise. The plan would have to be presented to the board at its next meeting in three weeks.
“He is the owner of the turbines,” DeTerra said. “If something goes wrong with a new car, you bring it back to the dealer.”
That action was passed in the same vote that called in the DEP, and angered members of Windwise who were skeptical that the developer’s plan would address their health concerns over his financial interest.
“He owns the equipment but he doesn’t own this town,” Windwise member Dawn Devlin said. “You represent us.”
Health board member Barbara Acksen motioned to have sound experts submit mitigation plans for Shah to follow, but the motion failed when it was not seconded by either DeTerra or Jeannine Lopes.
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