The Niagara County Board of Health has agreed to keep on its agenda the issue of health concerns pertaining to the Apex clean energy wind turbine project.
Members of Save Ontario Shores, the group that opposes the turbine project, addressed the Board of Health members Thursday about their concerns over the 70 wind turbines if they were placed in the area of Somerset and Yates. The turbines could be as 570 feet tall.
Cynthia Hellert, a retired registered nurse in Yates, shared some of those concerns. She also supplied the board with health effect studies on turbines which only stand at 370 feet from Brown County in Wisconsin.
According to Hellert, the wind industry refers to a 90-decibel noise level at an exterior wall of a residence as being required to damage ears. However, operating wind farms with turbines standing at heights lower than those opposed by Apex have shown to sustain sound levels in excess of 70 decibels well over 1,000 feet away.
The World Health Organization has said that night time noise should be no higher than 30 decibels. The state Department of Environmental Conservation guidelines state the increase of 6 decibels will cause communities to complain, while 20 decibels above would be intolerable.
Public health consequences include sleep deprivation, the report said.
Secondly, Hellert addressed the concerns of infrasound. That would be created when the blade of the turbine passes the base, making a “whooshing” sound, according to SOS member Paul Mullane of Yates. Infrasound can result in ear pain, nausea, anxiety, depression and impaired cognitive function, Hellert said, based off of information gathered by Rick James, an acoustical engineer in Michigan.
“The impact of infrasound is the general population,” Hellert said. “Anyone who is living near (turbines) will be affected.”
Noise is the common denominator in every single study and complaint about being near an industrial wind turbine, Hellert added. However, the wind industry continues to advise town boards that they do not need to worry about that component yet, and that they don’t need to look at the negative potential impacts of sound until after the application is submitted, she said.
“Brown County, Wisconsin’s board of health have already come out and said that these are hazardous to people’s health,” Mullane said. “The difference between Niagara County and Brown County, Wisconsin is that these turbines are up, there are eight of them and they are much smaller than what is being proposed by (Apex).”
Members of the anti-turbines group asked the board to consider adopting a sanitary code regulation requiring that base line measurements must be taken prior to any permits being issued for wind turbine construction.
The Niagara County Health Board agreed to look into the issue further.
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