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Kingston Board of Health reviews draft study scope

KINGSTON – If the state Department of Environmental Protection doesn’t provide the Board of Health an acoustical sound engineer to interpret the data collected from the Independence wind study, board members are prepared to look for one of their own.

The board would need to seek approval from the Board of Selectmen for the hiring, however, and the board voted 3-2 against making that request, with board members Bill Watson and Dan Sapir in favor.

Instead, Board of Health Chairman Joe Casna and Sapir agreed to contact the state to ask if DEP would provide a sound engineer to review the data. If not, they could reconsider.

At the Board of Health meeting, Leland Road resident Doreen Reilly, among several others concerned about the health impacts of the wind turbine, shared her critique of the sound study in comments she planned to submit to the study consultant.

However, Reilly said, what she really wants and what should really happen is that DEP conduct a sound study to determine compliance with turbine regulations.

“MassCEC is not conducting compliance testing,” she said. “I believe we need compliance testing done by the DEP.”

In a letter to the chairman and Massachusetts Clean Energy Center Project Manager Peter McPhee dated the day of the meeting, Martin Suuberg, deputy commissioner for policy and planning at DEP, acknowledges receipt of the draft scope. He also acknowledges questions from Reilly that McPhee had forwarded.

While DEP personnel won’t be conducting the noise study, Suuberg writes that DEP will be “reviewing and commenting on the scope to ensure that sampling done to determine compliance with DEP noise policy is done in a manner consistent with testing protocols used by our agency.”

Suuberg also writes that DEP will review the results of the sampling.

“The practice of approving scopes of work and reviewing the results of monitoring is consistent with MassDEP’s practice in other cases,” he said.

Reilly questions why, then, has DEP stepped in directly to address similar concerns of residents in the western Massachusetts town of Florida. DEP requested a noise-monitoring plan from the company that owns what is the state’s largest wind farm. It opened in December.

The deadline for commenting on the draft scope expired Thursday, Feb. 28. The consultants conducting the study, Harris Miller Miller and Hanson, expect the final scope will be available by Friday, March 15.