SCITUATE – After three nights of testing in five different locations, owners of the 390-foot-tall wind turbine on the Driftway say noise from the machine falls within state regulations.
Gordon Deane and Sumul Shah of Scituate Wind LLC – a partnership between Palmer Capital Corp. and Solaya Energy – went before selectmen Tuesday night to review the results of three rounds of testing to determine whether the turbine is too noisy.
A group of residents have complained that the noise and shadow flicker from the turbine adversely affects their health, prompting the board of health in the spring of 2013 to order testing on the turbine.
While the state Department of Environmental Protection says that noise from the turbine can’t be more than 10 decibels over ambient noise, Deane told selectmen testing shows levels no higher than seven decibels.
“(The DEP standard) is not a fixed noise level. It’s the amount over the background, so what they’re doing is saying you can’t be more than 10 decibels above the level,” Deane said.
Deane said sound engineers have tested low, medium and high wind speeds during low and high tides and a southwesterly wind. He said five locations east of the turbine were selected as part of the protocol, which both the board of health and state approved.
One final round of testing remains, which Deane said takes place between midnight and 5 a.m.
“The highest difference was seven decibels above background noise,” he said. “A three decimal difference is about what one can distinguish.”
Al Bangert, former department of public works director, is currently serving on a wind advisory group created by the state to look at turbine noise and how it’s regulated. It is not considering the sound waves that neighbors of the Scituate turbine say cause headaches and nausea.
He said the planning board permitted the wind turbine on the condition that the noise stays within the established 10 decibels above ambient noise.
“It’s a permitted operation, so there’s no more steps other than the final test, and then it’s out of the board of health’s purview,” he said.
Questioning what could be done to alleviate impact from the turbine, Selectman Anthony Vegnani called it “a sensitive issue in town.”
“People are upset during sleeping hours predominating, so there is a little bit of flexibility,” he said.
In other business, Police Chief Michael Stewart introduced officer Natalie Quinn to selectmen as the new school resource officer – a position created for the first time in the fiscal 2015 school budget.
Quinn has already attended basic school resource officer training in preparation for the upcoming school year.
Scituate Superintendent John McCarthy on Monday explained that Quinn will be available all school days, as the school department is paying 180 days of her salary. He said she has an office in the high school.
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