KINGSTON – Remediation measures to bring the Independence wind turbine into compliance with state noise regulations need to satisfy the Board of Selectmen as well as the Board of Health.
Language in the lease agreement between the town and turbine owner Kingston Wind Independence states that the turbine must operate in accordance with all applicable governmental laws, rules, statutes and regulations.
A Board of Health public hearing at 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 11, will focus on potential remediation measures. The Board of Health will essentially act as agent of the state Department of Environmental Protection.
The public hearing was set last Thursday, July 24, when representatives from DEP, Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and consultants Harris, Miller, Miller, and Hanson presented the partial results of an acoustical study of the Independence by HMMH to the board and the public.
Having attended the July 24 Board of Health presentation, Selectmen Chairman Elaine Fiore said Tuesday night that her board could support legal proceedings against KWI if necessary. She said violations left unabated could be declared a violation of the contract.
“We had the preliminary information last Thursday. Aug. 11 there will be a public hearing to start the dialogue, and we all expect there to be a resolution,” she said.
The two violations of the state’s noise regulation March 2 and 15 at 13 Schofield Road as determined by DEP occurred during sampling that took place under specific conditions including certain wind speeds and wind directions and only from 1 to 3 a.m.
At the July 24 hearing, DEP Assistant Commissioner for Planning and Evaluation Douglas Fine said it’s clear from the interim report from HMMH outlining the results of sampling at 13 Schofield Road that the state noise regulation of more than 10 decibels above ambient was violated those March mornings.
The interim report also included results from 3 Leland Road. Following up with Fine this week, he confirmed that the measurement of 8.8 decibels above ambient March 15 at 3 Leland Road approached an exceedence – factoring in a plus/minus 1 decibel above ambient level of accuracy.
Strong opinions are expressed on both sides of the ongoing turbine debate in Kingston. One side says that any exceedences were rare events that can be mitigated, while the other side says the study does not accurately reflect how often there are exceedences of the noise regulation.
Both sides question how the acoustical study was conducted but for different reasons. One side says the turbine failed because the study was conducted during extreme conditions and time of day, while the other side says that HMMH never tested at full power giving more accurate results.
Board of Health Chairman Joe Casna said after the meeting July 24 that the preferred outcome would be that attorneys for the town and KWI with assistance from DEP meet before Aug. 11 to draft a mediation agreement that the Board of Health would discuss and possibly approve.
Either way, the public hearing will be an opportunity for public comment. If there is no agreement, the Board of Health could discuss and possibily vote on remediation options KWI would be ordered to follow.
Four of the five Board of Health members were present July 24. Board member Jack Breen was on a scheduled vacation but informed the board at its July 21 meeting he would watch a recording of the meeting and catch up on the latest information.
DEP will continue to review the results of the study and offer the Board of Health assistance with mitigation options, Fine said July 24. He said mitigation options have been employed successfully elsewhere, specifically mentioning Fairhaven.
“We very much want to help you (the Board of Health) and help the town make progress and move forward on this,” Fine said.
A full report of the acoustical study will be released later this summer