FAIRHAVEN – Fairhaven’s two industrial-sized wind turbines are in violation of Massachusetts noise regulations, according to preliminary results of a sound study conducted by the state Department of Environmental Protection.
The announcement at a meeting Tuesday night prompted opponents to demand the turbines be shut down.
DEP Deputy Commissioner Martin Suuberg told the Board of Health that noise from the turbines exceeded state regulations in five of the 24 periods during which the DEP conducted testing.
DEP started its sound study in August to determine whether the turbines were more than 10 decibels louder than ambient noise at homes of residents who had complained about the turbine noise.
Five different locations were tested overall but the five periods of noncompliance came from only single locations on Little Bay Road, Peirces’ Point Road and Teal Circle.
Winds were blowing from the northwest and northeast, at varying speeds, when the turbines were found to be exceeding noise regulations by differences of .7 to 1.5 decibels, according to DEP data presented Tuesday night.
The DEP still needs to collect more noise samples at varying wind speeds before the test is complete, but Suuberg said the state agency would work with the town and developers to “mitigate the problem.”
Developer Gordon Dean said he disputed some of the methodology used in the DEP’s study but agreed to work with the town and DEP to “see what might be done in a cost-effective manner.”
He said he hoped a solution could be found before winter, when many of the violations were found.
That response was not good enough for the more than 30 members of the turbine opposition group Windwise who were in attendance and cheered and booed various speakers throughout the meeting.
At one point, many in the audience began shouting for Board of Health Chairman Peter DeTerra to make a motion to shut down the wind turbines until Fairhaven Wind presented the board with a mitigation plan.
“Until you find a way to fix this, it’s only fair to shut them down,” Grant Menard said.
Lisa Plante agreed, saying “the burden of proof is on the developers to prove they can be in compliance.”
Planning Board Chairman Wayne Hayward warned the Board of Health against taking any action “without the advice of counsel,” saying “don’t allow yourself to be pressured by the 35 people here.”
His comments were met with boos and yells from Windwise members.
DeTerra said he would wait to make a decision until the Board of Health could meet with selectmen and town counsel.