KINGSTON – The adverse health affects of living near industrial wind turbines can include migraines, heart palpitations, sleep disturbance, vertigo and depression, according to a list of physical and mental health impacts presented by panelists at last week’s Kingston Wind Aware forum, held at Kingston Intermediate School.
The panel consisted of Wind Wise Massachusetts steering committee member Eleanor Tillinghast, who is also the founder of Green Berkshires; healthcare professional Preston Ribnick; Dr. John Cowl; and Falmouth resident Kathryn Elder, who shared her story of how a nearby wind turbine has affected her.
Kingston residents Doreen and Sean Reilly are asking for an end to long nights without peace.
“We just want to sleep,” Doreen said.
The Reillys say they can hear the sound or vibrations from the turbines in town even in a basement room, where they thought they would be insulated from the noise. They would like the turbine to be shut down at night.
While the Reillys aren’t experiencing other symptoms, like those reported by others who attended the forum, they’ve been warned that other symptoms can develop over time.
Ribnick said the cumulative affect of months and even years living near a wind turbine can lead to what is called wind turbine syndrome. He and his wife have traveled the world, including Australia, New Zealand and Ireland, interviewing residents who live near industrial-size wind turbines.
A local organization founded by Kingston residents, one of the faces of Kingston Wind Aware is Country Club Way resident Tim Dwyer. He said it’s not too late to compel town officials to take a closer look at the negative impact of the turbines on residents’ lives.
“There are ways we can mitigate the damages to the extent that they exist,” he said.
Dwyer’s family and 11 other Country Club Way, Copper Beach Drive and Leland Road families are appealing to the Zoning Board of Appeals to overturn a decision by Zoning Enforcement Officer and Building Inspector Paul Armstrong denying their request for cease and desist orders to stop operation of the four wind turbines in town.
They are challenging the site plan approval process for both the municipal wind turbine on the town’s capped landfill and developer Mary O’Donnell’s three wind turbines on Marion Drive. The ZBA will hold a public hearing at 7:35 p.m. Wednesday, June 20, to hear their appeal.
Dwyer said the town needs to have an effective policy in place for responding to complaints and concerns from residents worried about the wind turbines.
Tillinghast recommended that residents who are feeling negative effects keep detailed records to document their experiences.
Also of concern to Kingston Wind Aware members are the affects of the wind turbines on students at the nearby Kingston Elementary and Intermediate schools. A scheduling conflict postponed a planned wind turbine discussion at Monday night’s Kingston School Committee meeting.
Both O’Donnell and Green Energy Committee member and former Selectman Mark Beaton attended the forum. Some in attendance challenged them to commit to investigating the human experience of real people in Kingston. Both agreed to look into options for funding such a study.
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