KINGSTON – The final report on the acoustical monitoring study of the Independence wind turbine has been released to the public after review by the state Department of Environmental Protection.
DEP Assistant Commissioner Douglas Fine wrote a letter last Thursday (Sept. 10) to Board of Health Chairman Bill Watson. Focusing on data and analysis related to state noise regulations and policy, he said, the findings in the final technical report are unchanged from the findings in the public comment draft released in April.
“The department has high confidence about the measured exceedences included in the full technical report and relies on measured data in definitively determining whether a condition of exceedence exists,” Fine wrote.
In another Sept. 10 letter to the Board of Health, Nils Bolgen, program director with the the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, said that while a public comment process did not lead to changes in the draft report’s findings, “the process did identify a number of areas where the study methodology could be presented more clearly.”
Changes to a draft report released in June are listed in a document attached to the final report. One example is a new paragraph describing prevailing wind speeds and directions during monitoring.
The Board of Health has been waiting for the release of the final report and its review by town counsel to schedule a public hearing to discuss further mitigation measures based on that final report. Mitigation measures based on an interim report were last approved in August 2014.
A public hearing has been scheduled for Monday, Oct. 19. This will be discussed by the Board of Health at its regular meeting at 6 p.m. Monday (Sept. 21).
Among the stakeholders outside of Kingston expected to attend that hearing are the consultant that conducted the study, Harris, Miller, Miller Hanson; the turbine’s owner, Kingston Wind Independence; the DEP; and MassCEC.
Leland Road residents Sean and Doreen Reilly filed their most recent official noise complaint with the Board of Health Tuesday (Sept. 8), noting excessive and invasive turbine noise during the day Sept. 7.
In the Sept. 8 complaint, emailed to members of the Board of Health, Health Agent Henny Walters, Town Administrator Robert Fennessy and Selectmen Chairman Elaine Fiore, the Reillys wrote that the noise it produced left their family unable to sleep and “upset by the continued refusal to come to our aid and stop what has been determined as a noise source which violates existing laws and regulations that were intended to protect public health.
“We are again, as we have been on so many days over the last three years, exhausted and upset that the Independence operators refuse to abide by the Order of Enforcement (as we have informed you previously there have been several occasions when the turbine operates in spite of the Order of Enforcement agreed to in August of 2014),” they continued.
They also complained about how long it has taken for the final report to be released because, they say, a draft report presented at a Board of Health meeting in June (if not data collected in December 2013) was sufficient notice of noncompliance for the board to implement new mitigation measures.
DEP spokesman Edmund Coletta Jr. said the agency is ready to provide any technical or regulatory assistance that it can to help the town and the Board of Health as they decides the next steps.
“MassDEP will be there (at the public hearing) to help out the board, and we will continue to assist them until the issues are finalized,” he said.
The study is available on the town’s website, the MassCEC website (www.masscec.com/content/wind-energy-research-and-analysis) and on MassDEP’s website at www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/massdep/climate-energy/energy/wind-turbines.
The findings reviewed by DEP are that turbine impact sound data collected in February, March and April 2014, combined with ambient data collected in September 2014, indicates that exceedences of the state’s limit of 10 decibels have been measured and are likely to occur at one or more sampling locations to the east of Route 3 year-round between noon and 4 p.m. at winds of 7 meters per second or more from the south to southwest, and year-round between 11:30 p.m. and 4:30 a.m. at winds of 9 meters per second or more from the south to southwest.
Turbine impact sound data collected in February, March and April 2014 indicates that no occurrences of pure-tone exist. The report also predicts, based on mathematical extrapolation, additional exceedences of 10 decibels at locations east of Route 3 and also in the Copper Beech neighborhood (west of Route 3) under certain wind and seasonal conditions based on interpolation and extrapolation of monitoring data.
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