DENMARK, WI – On October 14, 2014, after more than four years of hearing testimony from residents, visiting the wind project, studying the science on wind turbine noise, speaking to researchers, and reviewing noise testing results, the Brown County Board of Health correctly and courageously declared Duke Energy’s Shirley Wind turbines a “Human Health Hazard” in accordance with Brown County and Wisconsin state statutes. THIS HAS NOT CHANGED. This unanimous declaration of the Brown County Board of Health remains in force today.
The Brown County Health Department (a separate entity from the Board of Health) and its Director/Health Officer, Chua Xiong, have enforcement powers enabling them to protect the health and safety of Brown County residents – the Board of Health does not have these direct enforcement powers. During her first nine months in office as the newly appointed Health Officer, Chua Xiong accepted health impact affidavits from Shirley Wind residents, reports from acousticians who conducted infrasound & low frequency noise tests in Shirley Wind homes, documents pertaining to the issue of adverse health impacts from wind turbine emissions, and heard testimony at Board of Health meetings.
Scores of peer-reviewed studies, professional conference papers, and related documents were submitted into the official record that Ms. Xiong was to review in reaching her decision. These documents were authored by an array of leading experts on this issue, many being MDs or PhDs. They clearly demonstrate that a relationship exists between industrial wind turbines sited in proximity to people and adverse human health effects. Yet, despite these facts, in her public statement and decision on December 15, 2015, Chua Xiong stated:
“Presently, there is insufficient scientific evidence-based research to support the relationship between wind turbines and health concerns.”
This decision violates the precautionary principle, i.e., that a lack of scientific certainty must not be used as a reason to ignore or postpone preventive or remedial action when there are other good reasons to do so.
At the August 25, 2015, Board of Health meeting, Ms. Xiong said she would be speaking with renowned experts on this issue. Yet, when over twenty authors of the most prominent studies submitted to the Health Department were asked if indeed Ms. Xiong had contacted them before announcing her decision, only one responded that she had, and it was merely a voicemail left 90 minutes before the meeting where she announced her decision. Ms. Xiong only interviewed a small handful of affected residents, and despite being encouraged and being offered the opportunity to do so, she did not spend time in any of the affected homes (including those that were vacated) where the worst adverse health conditions have been reported. These critical omissions constitute serious failures of due diligence.
People from across the state attended this meeting, and after seeing and hearing the tearful reaction of the impacted residents after making her announcement, Health Director Xiong returned to the podium and pleaded for patience while fighting back her tears. It is beyond comprehension that she would ask the residents that have already been suffering for five long years to be patient with her while she monitors the situation “on an annual basis”, stating, “it might take me five years, ten years, but I know it is something that has to be done”.
Health Director Xiong repeatedly stated that she based her decision on “scientific, evidence-based research” and would only accept and consider new “scientific, evidence-based literature”. Limiting her decision and future review to ONLY this criteria is reckless and incomplete – she completely ignores the most important data of all – the real world health impact of Duke Energy’s wind turbines on Brown County families as evidenced through their sworn affidavits, their medical records, and their documentation of past and continued suffering. Her own criteria also eliminates from consideration the extensive infrasound and low frequency noise measurements taken over the last five years in the homes of affected residents by the nation’s best acousticians.
Health Director Xiong continued by stating that the residents are “not lying”, “not crazy”, that “it’s not in your head”, and that she “cannot imagine the emotional and physical stress they have experienced”. Yet, after acknowledging an issue that is causing harm to county residents that she is duty bound to protect, Ms. Xiong decided to take no action to relieve their suffering.
While the County and its Health Department Director may have been attempting to avoid litigation with Duke Energy, Xiong’s inaction will now result in the prolonged daily suffering of Brown County residents. Ms. Xiong stated that her Health Department is “dedicated to promote, provide, and protect the health of all Brown County citizens”. This should not exclude tax paying Brown County families whose homes the enormous Shirley Wind turbines were built around.
To date, Ms. Xiong has provided no accounting for her decision – whether she even read the submitted documents, how she assessed the documents, or what information she relied upon for her decision. Meanwhile, the Brown County Board of Health (a separate entity from the Health Department) continues to stand behind their 10-14-14 unanimous declaration that the Shirley Wind turbines are a human health hazard, as stated at this meeting by both the Board Chair and Co-Chair.
We implore Brown County and Health Director Chua Xiong to help their residents and ACT NOW! Like the Board of Health, the Brown County Health Department must declare Duke’s Shirley Wind turbines a “Human Health Hazard”. Please share your thoughts and comments on this issue with the following Brown County Wisconsin officials. If emailing, please address and send your emails:
Chua Xiong, Brown County Health Director
Troy Streckenbach, Brown County Executive
Patrick Evans, Brown County Health & Human Services Chairman
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