This month, four different acoustic firms simultaneously investigated turbine sound at three homes in Shirley, Wis. Two of the homes have been abandoned by their owners, who were unable to live with the effects of the turbines on their health. These four firms together concluded “that enough evidence and hypotheses have been given herein to classify LFN (low-frequency noise) and infrasound as a serious issue, possibly affecting the future of the industry.” (https://www.wind-watch.org/documents/cooperative-measurement-survey-and-analysis-of-low-frequency-and-infrasound-at-the-shirley-wind-farm/)
Steven Cooper, an acoustic investigator working independently in Australia, has identified a wind turbine signature at the level of infrasound. His experience in industrial noise coupled with his access to sophisticated equipment allows him to measure to very low frequencies. His paper, “Are wind farms too close to communities?” (https://www.wind-watch.org/documents/are-wind-farms-too-close-to-communities/) reveals the following: “Examination of ‘noise levels’ received by residents in proximity to wind farms reveals the presence of audible and inaudible sound that extends well past the nominal separation distances of 1-2km. The silence of the individual state environmental protection authorities in addressing these issues is deafening.”
If I can find, read and understand these reports and the implications for my health, so can others. In fact, if you are a homeowner in Fairhaven or a parent of a child who will attend the new Woods School, reading these reports is fundamental to protecting your home and your family. If you trust Fairhaven town officials to do it for you, you might want to re-think that approach.
The Planning Board’s first version of the wind energy bylaws, when combined with the state’s Green Energy Act (written by our own town moderator, Mark Silvia) allowed the construction of the two turbines that are right now making people in our town miserable. Over 350 complaints have been filed with the Board of Health, to date. These complaints come from 49 homes and over 22 streets.
Their second version of the bylaws is little better. Turbine setbacks are only four times the height of the blade. Really? That ignores all serious current research completely. Moreover, the Planning Board retains the right to overrule its own inadequate regulations with an exception, which could also allow them to overrule their conclusion that they are protecting the citizens by limiting turbine output to 600 kilowatts.
Fairhaven’s Board of Health and the Board of Selectmen have turned over their responsibilities to the state Department of Environmental Protection. Based solely on the number of complaints from Fairhaven citizens to its Board of Health, the DEP should shut the existing turbines down immediately to protect residents from further harm. Instead, the DEP is pursuing limited turbine sound testing using a protocol that only measures a weighted, audible sound. And even though the sampler they are using is capable of capturing data at one-eighth of a second, the testing only uses samples taken at one-second intervals.
Why is this important? When the testing in Falmouth included samples taken at one-eighth of a second, that data showed that the Falmouth turbines were as much as 11 decibels over the ambient sound, instead of the 1 decibel over ambient that the DEP identified. In addition, professional acousticians Mike Bahtiarian, Steve Ambrose and Robert Rand conclude that the current DEP turbine sound testing protocol is further flawed, as it does not measure amplitude modulation, infrasound or low-frequency noise.
In Fairhaven, Mr. Shah brings along his own sampler, Ryan Callahan of Tech Environmental, who provides him with instant access to sound level data that they will not share with the public. If the DEP is interested in a fair and true investigation, shouldn’t they be concerned about Mr. Shah’s ability to manipulate the sound levels during testing? They don’t seem to be.
Last spring I asked Mr. Shah whether Fairhaven Wind would provide a health and property value guarantee to protect the people and homes close to the turbines. His answer was no, that Fairhaven Wind LLC would offer no guarantees to protect the town’s residents from harm. And our Board of Selectmen did not think it was important to include such a guarantee in the contract they signed.
The Planning Board still doesn’t think it is important to ask for them now.
From the Board of Selectmen, to the Board of Health, to the Planning Board, the actions of this town government are making a mockery of protecting its citizens from physical and financial harm.
If you are like me, and want better protections from your town government, a good start would be to attend the Monday, Jan. 7, Fairhaven Board of Health Meeting at the Fairhaven Town Hall at 6:30 p.m., where they will discuss the new draft of the wind energy bylaws. Oh – and read the reports by Cooper and the Wisconsin Four first. These reports are based on actual data, not the hypothetical models espoused by the developers and their employees. I am a great believer in fact-based science and independent investigation – aren’t you?
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