Health officials in Scituate have ordered a study to see if the town’s wind turbine meets state noise regulations, a setback for neighbors who wanted a more a expansive study.
The study, approved by Scituate’s Board of Health on Monday night, will examine whether the 390-foot-tall turbine off the Driftway complies with noise standards defined by the state Department of Environmental Protection.
The scope of the study was backed unanimously by the board’s three members.
Scituate Wind, the turbine’s owner, had told the board it would only pay for a study that determined its compliance with state standards, but nothing outside of that scope. The Board of Health said it had no money to fund a study not paid for by Scituate Wind.
A group of residents from Scituate’s Third Cliff neighborhood, who say the turbine has negatively affected their health, had proposed a turbine study that would measure factors not considered by state standards.
Board of Health member Michael Vazza said the board couldn’t approve a study “invented” by Third Cliff residents because there’s no basis for comparison
“Those (measurements) would be challenged,” Vazza said. “How would you even interpret those results?”
Tom Thompson, representing the Third Cliff residents, said the state’s standards are antiquated, even by the state’s own admission. He quoted an excerpt from a 2011 letter sent by the state to officials in Falmouth, where two turbines have been blamed for similar health problems.
“The evaluation of sound impact from wind turbines is a complicated issue that was not considered by MassDEP when it developed its sound evaluation and noise-compliance guidance in the early 1970s and as revised in 1990,” the letter reads.
Gordon L. Deane, president of Palmer Capital, said the noise study will cost up to $15,000.
The turbine’s neighbors will next head to town meeting for support. Gerard Kelly, a Third Cliff resident, has filed a citizen petition for the April 9 meeting, asking voters to back a proposal to shut down the turbine until its noise, shadow flicker and health impact are studied.
Shadow flicker is the focus of a new YouTube video showing 42 minutes of consecutive flicker at 151 Driftway, a home located 640 feet from the turbine. Lauren and Mark McKeever, who live with their two children at 151 Driftway, have sued the Board of Health in hopes of shutting down the turbine.
Earlier this month, attorney John Davis, representing the town’s Board of Health, said the McKeevers had signed an agreement with Scituate Wind before the turbine was erected in which they agreed not to contest the turbine’s installation in exchange for $20,000.
Tanya Trevisan, the McKeevers’ attorney, said the town is trying to use the agreement as a distraction.
“The agreement is irrelevant to the case,” Trevisan said, adding that the McKeevers’ lawsuit is “not about permitting.”
“It’s about two sick kids, and the parents are trying to do the job to protect them.”
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