The Municipality of Kincardine will undertake new noise studies on the Armow Wind Project in hopes of convincing the province that more research on the potential health affects of industrial wind turbines is needed.
Council agreed during its meeting last Wednesday to put out a Request for Proposals (RFP) as early as today for qualified acoustic engineers to conduct field studies in the area of the Armow Wind Project prior to the project becoming operational later this year. The idea is to prepare a report on baseline sound levels, including infrasound, and compare sound levels prior to construction and post construction.
Members of Huron-Kinloss Against Lakeshore Turbines (HALT) attended the council meeting held in Underwood and brought an acoustics expert from Toronto, Kevin Allan Dooley, whose research and product development firm is in the process of patenting a device that could suppress infrasound levels inside a home. Dooley told council that he has been conducting research over the past couple of years based on research done in 1985 that found that 15 per cent of people suffer from motion sickness as a result of sensory conflict, when the inner ear senses motion, but that motion cannot be seen. For example, some people get motion sickness if they read a book in a moving car or travel on a cruise ship.
Dooley said he has discovered that infrasound is always present with motion. He said that infrasound from wind turbines gets translated to a motion cue in the inner ear of some individuals and produces symptoms including sleep deprivation, nausea, headaches and dizziness. Dooley said his work has been peer reviewed.
Deb Morris, a representative of HALT, asked council to use this information and enact a resolution passed in March 2013 to conduct noise testing on wind energy projects within the municipality. She said that once the Armow Wind Project is up and running it will be impossible to conduct the studies.
“We need this council to act with urgency and do the job well,” she said.
The province has a compliance protocol for wind turbine noise that requires an investigation of noise from operational wind turbines if there is a complaint, but it does not address infrasound. Councillor Laura Haight asked what the municipality would do with the results of the study. She said the study would measure the sound, but would not make the connection between health effects and infrasound. She said the municipality should first have discussions with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOE) which is the approval authority for wind energy projects.
“I have lobbied and have gone to the MOE and they keep saying the same old thing,” said mayor Anne Eadie. “But if there is actual baseline proof that could lead to more research that is hard to deny.”
Councillor Linda McKee said the municipality needs to act.
“Why would we go to the MOE?” she asked. “We need to take care of our people ourselves.”
McKee said the provincial threshold for wind turbine noise is 30 to 35 decibels. Noise testing was conducted at the home of Scott and Ashley Duncan, who live within the boundaries of the Armow Wind Project and ambient nighttime noise measures at 20 decibels. She said if the study finds that the noise level increases when the turbines are operational they would have the means to go to the MOE and ask them to shut them down.
Haight reminded McKee that the compliance protocol does not cover infrasound. McKee said turbines have been shut down in other communities.
Councillor Maureen Couture said she was not opposed to the idea of conducting a noise study, but wanted to know what the cost would be.
“We don’t have a blank cheque, we have taxpayers to answer to,” she said.
CAO Murray Clarke said he did not have an immediate answer but would have staff bring a report to tonight’s council meeting. He said it is critical that the work be done as soon as possible before the Armow project is complete.
In addition to a noise study that will include infrasound testing, council agreed to move forward with an independent peer review of a noise impact report by Armow Wind. The review will be paid for by Armow’s developers Pattern Renewable Holdings and Samsung Renewable Energy.
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