Residents tracking alleged incidents of turbine-related illness Esther Wrightman knows people are skeptical that industrial wind turbines cause health problems, so she and a Chatham-Kent woman have launched a website to track people’s illness: www.illwind.org
Wrightman, who is with Middlesex Lambton Wind Concerns, lives near the Zepher Wind Energy Center near Watford. Since it began producing power, neighbours have begun feeling the effects.
“One (of the people affected) thought the turbines were cool,” says Wrightman. “That is the person who got tinnitus. Another has vertigo.”
Wrightman says the man is in “a bit of shock” after becoming ill and other neighbours are now saying “’I can’t believe the noise. I didn’t realize it would be that bad. I didn’t realize it was going to happen to me,’” she says.
Wrightman has been thinking about tracking the effects of industrial turbine developments for about a year, but she could never find the technology which would allow a self-reporting website to work. Recently, she and her co-creator stumbled upon the Ushahidi computer platform. It is used by disaster relief organizations in third-world countries to pinpoint survivors by using cell phones instead of getting rescuers reporting places of concern.
Wrightman says the fight against wind turbines is similar in many ways. “In rural Ontario, you don’t have people there reporting all the time, but you do have residents experiencing it,” she says. “The website is making them the reporters, I suppose. It works for our situation.
“We basically want to expose all the issues that are happening in rural areas,” she says. “With each report, the hotspot blob grows… the more reports there are, the bigger the hotspot grows. That shows, in a way, the crisis area and that it needs to be investigated.
“Hopefully, the government see that – and other people, too – so they see there is a problem.”
Wrightman thinks the website will be a good foil to the federal government’s twoyear health study, providing more evidence of problems on the ground. She’s spoken with researchers in Australia who specialize in the health effects of turbines who say putting out the information will help. “It’s a great thing to verify or expose problems,” she says.
There are already a number of issues reported on the site. Wrightman expects that will continue.
“We know there are problems out here…I know because people e-mail me at two in the morning…they don’t even know me – saying ‘I can’t sleep! These things are driving me crazy!’” Wrightman says many people become depressed, even suicidal about their health concerns which they can do nothing about – short of moving. She hopes the website will give them a voice.
“All I can do is put the story out there and say, ‘What are you going to do about this Mr. McGuinty?’” she says. “Either they (the provincial government) are not watching or listening or they think we’re crazy; but we know they’re not. They’re our neighbours and family.”