A Scituate board of health member said he is skeptical about a plan from wind turbine neighbors who want to conduct their own sound study concurrently with one commissioned by the board.
The neighbors, who say the turbine is hurting their health, announced earlier this week they would hire an acoustical engineer to test the noise levels of the turbine. They want their study to be performed on the same nights as the study conducted by Tech Environmental, the firm picked by the health board to study the turbine.
Health board member Michael Vazza said trying to coordinate two tests could be problematic, because both firms may not be available for testing on the same nights. Testing times may change abruptly, the board said, because of testing variables such as rain and wind.
Vazza said he is also worried that a scenario could arise in which one firm accuses the other of testing incorrectly.
“I’m cautious if the board puts themselves out there as the monitor of the logistics (of two tests),” Vazza said during a board discussion of the issue Thursday night. “I just think it muddies it too much.”
In response, board member Francis Lynch said the board will notify the neighbors when Tech Environmental’s testing sites and times have been confirmed, but they will not reschedule to accommodate the neighbors’ firm. The neighbors have yet to hired a firm.
“They’re welcome to come,” Lynch said. “If they can’t come that night, I’m not going to say, ‘Let’s not do it.’”
Tom Thompson of Gilson Road, a spokesman for the neighbors, said Friday that finding mutually agreeable nights for testing should not be difficult because weather patterns are largely predictable, and their firm will be flexible if a makeup date is needed.
Tech Environmental of Waltham will study the turbine using the state’s noise-testing standards. Those standards call for measuring sound in one-second intervals.
The neighbors want to test factors such as low-frequency sound and amplitude modulation, which are measurements not recognized by the state. Neighbors say these measurements are more accurate for turbine noise.
The board’s noise test, set to start in April, will be paid for by Scituate Wind LLC, the turbine owner. Scituate Wind is a joint venture of Solaya Energy and Palmer Capital Corp.
Thursday, the board interviewed Tech Environmental and Noise Control Engineering of Billerica, and then voted to hire Tech. Gordon Deane, principal at Palmer Capital, urged the board to choose Tech because he said they had more experience and their price estimate was about a third lower than Noise Control’s. Deane said the study will cost about $19,900.
The turbine neighbors did not attend Thursday’s health meeting because they oppose the scope of work in the board’s study. Their no-show irked the board.
“They’ve been studying the science of this as much as we have, and I would have appreciated their input on that,” Lynch said.
Thompson said their attendance would have been futile because their suggestions for the study had already been cast aside by the board.
“There wasn’t much more we could bring to the table,” Thompson said. “Our input has frankly been ignored.”
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