The Kingston Independence wind turbine violated the state’s noise policy two of the nights sound samples were taken as part of an acoustical monitoring study, according to an interim report.
The turbine’s sound levels exceeded the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) noise threshold of 10 decibels over background during sampling March 2 and 15 at the 13 Schofield Road monitoring site, according to the interim report released Tuesday by DEP to the Kingston Board of Health and a list of other interested parties.
Board of Health Chairman Joe Casna said the board will meet Monday, July 21, to discuss what action should be taken, including any potential mitigating measures, to bring the Independence into compliance. He said all interested parties will be notified of the meeting once confirmed.
“It failed,” he said. “It operated outside acceptable noise guidelines. We’ll now meet to determine what steps should be taken.”
Douglas Fine, assistant commissioner for planning and evaluation, said Wednesday that DEP has offered its assistance to the Board of Health as it sets a course of action in response to the violations of the state air pollution regulation. He did not foresee a conflict July 21.
Fine said DEP delegates authority for determining a course of action, in collaboration with the turbine operator, to the Board of Health.
“Now it’s in the Board of Health’s court to move forward,” he said. “The Board of Health will work with the turbine operator to develop and put in place actions that will eliminate any future exceedences of our noise standard.”
Kingston Wind Independence General Manager Kially Ruiz, who has been the face of the turbine operator in Kingston, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Fine said there are other instances of turbines violating the noise standard and that DEP has shared mitigation options with the Kingston board. He said DEP will also help the board and the turbine operator understand the conditions in place when the standard was exceeded to properly mitigate and prevent recurrences.
In a letter to the Board of Health Tuesday, Fine said DEP is available to meet with the board to discuss the interim report and options for moving forward to address the readings in excess of the state regulation.
“This interim report presents results for the two monitoring sites closest to the KWI turbine, and from the two successful sampling nights during which there were moderate to high wind speeds,” Fine wrote. “These locations and wind conditions represent two of the seven monitoring scenarios included in HMMH’s scope of work.”
“The exceedences occurred with winds from the South and Southwest at moderate and high speeds of 8 to 10.3 meters/second at hub height,” Fine wrote. “On March 2, 2014, the data collected indicates that there was a 15 dBA difference between the L90 Background and the LMax sound from the KWI wind turbine. On March 15, 2014, the data collected indicates that there was a 13.7 dBA difference between the L90 background and the LMax sound from the KWI wind turbine.”
According to Fine’s letter, “MassDEP’s determination of exceedences is based on a comparison of the L90 background sound including the sound of traffic from Route 3 compared to the LMax sound levels excluding any source of interference sound (traffic).”
The consulting firm Harris, Miller, Miller, and Hanson Inc. (HMMH) performed the study for the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and DEP.
Doreen and Sean Reilly live close to the Independence turbine, and their property was a sampling site. They are not only interested in the results released to date. They are interested in seeing the full report.
Sean Reilly said they don’t understand how the turbine can be out of compliance 100 feet away on Schofield Road and not at their property.
With the turbine out of compliance, they are calling for the town and the state to do something to fix it and help their and other families.
“The Independence wind turbine was permitted and constructed with no flicker study and inadequate sound studies,” Doreen Reilly said. “It is becoming clear that this was a mistake from the beginning that the town of Kingston and the state of Massachusetts is allowing to continue to diminish the quality of our lives at our home and on our property.”
Fine said the final report will be released to the public once it has been received by DEP and undergone quality assurance and review in the coming weeks. He said the interim report was released because there were times when the regulation was exceeded. He said HMMH and Mass CEC have assured the state that the regulation was not exceeded during the other sampling dates.
According to the Fine letter, DEP does not plan to request additional sound sampling. The interim report was based on monitoring events October through April before the study was suspended.
“As you know, the full study has taken longer to complete than anticipated due to persistent weather challenges, turbine operational issues and problems with background noise contamination,” Fine wrote. “Now that the winter sampling season has ended, the time identified in the scope as appropriate for monitoring worst case scenario sound impacts has also ended.”
To view the interim report, go to http://www.mass.gov/eea/docs/dep/energy/wind/kwicvletinterimreport0714.pdf.
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