GLENCOE, Pa. — Low-frequency sounds can be detected in houses as far as a mile from wind turbines, an expert said.
Rick James, an acoustic engineer, said infrasounds are in homes located near the Twin Ridges Wind Farm.
Twin Ridges, located on the Big Savage Ridge area near the Maryland-Pennsylvania border, went into operation in late 2012.
James tested the infrasounds in a house that belongs to Tammy McKenzie and her husband Joe – who say they live in the “dark, deep depths of hell” beneath the shadow flicker, high- and low-frequency sounds that emit from the wind farm’s turbines.
“The tests at the McKenzies showed the characteristics I have found in homes of people who not only had adverse (health) reactions, but whose reactions were strong enough to make them decide to move if they find a home buyer or in some cases just vacate the home and move elsewhere,” said James.
In other areas, such as the Shirley Wind utility in Brown County, Wis., where more extensive testing has been conducted, folks reported adverse health effects including the sensation of moving while being still and pressure in the head, James said.
“Other people in the house may not sense anything,” James said. “There is a broad range of sensitivity to this acoustic energy. That is really not unexpected.”
Joe McKenzie said the sound of the wind turbines causes ringing in his ears and pressure in his head, his wife said.
Tammy McKenzie recently provided her local township supervisors results from the test James conducted. She asked the officials to adopt a wind turbine ordinance for future projects to protect the health and safety of the people who live in the township.
The township supervisors agreed to discuss the matter and notify the McKenzies of a decision, Tammy McKenzie said.
Before the project’s construction in 2011, EverPower – a Pittsburgh-based company that owns Twin Ridges – worked with municipalities to develop agreements and ensure compliance with industry standards, said Michael Speerschneider, chief permitting and public policy officer.
The frequency range of the infrasounds differ from waves such as sound emitted from other types of rotating machines, James said.
“Instead, they have large spikes of (peaks or crests) that are as much as 100 to 1,000 times higher in pressure than the pressure in the valleys between the spikes,” said James. “While the average sound pressure level of the tones may not appear to be very significant, it is the peaks of the pressure waves that are significant.”
Despite the sounds, the McKenzies say they refuse to vacate their “dream” home.
Tammy McKenzie also said she talked to Farhad Ahmed, an environmental health epidemiologist from Harrisburg.
“He states that they should not have let the wind industry place a turbine close to our house in the first place due to health concerns of the noise that is emitted from the turbines,” Tammy McKenzie said.
James said the McKenzies have limited short-term options: They can stay and cope with the noise, or they can move.
“Based on experiences in Michigan, they will not be able to sell the home without steep discounts and even then they may have no offers. Further, it may not be ethical or legal to sell it,” said James. “The home, and all of the other homes, along the base of the ridge may present a health hazard to the next buyer.”
Editor’s note: article updated at 7:42 p.m. Nov. 17, 2014.
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