Dismissed rural Nova Scotians petition legislature for health objectives and credible province-wide noise monitoring at wind power plants
In approving wind power plants, the Nova Scotia government ignored credible evidence of eminent harm to residents that would live in proximity to the proposed facilities. As a result, some rural Nova Scotians now suffer chronic sleep disruption that in turn hinders daily functioning and effects health adversely.
On Tuesday, October 17th, 1:00 pm at Province House in Halifax, Alan McMaster, PC MLA Inverness County, will be presenting two petitions that request the legislature to establish health objectives for residents living in proximity to wind power plants and to create a single, province wide noise monitoring program that credibly enforces those objectives.
More than 12 years after the first large scale wind power plant was installed at Pubnico Point, the Nova Scotia government still has not established objectives regarding the health and well being to be maintained for residents living in proximity to these developments. Repeated requests to Nova Scotia Environment (NSE) asking for them to confirm or deny that the ability for a resident to sleep undisturbed in their home is an objective of their noise management responsibilities have been consistently evaded.
At present there is no single, uniformly applied protocol for monitoring noise at wind power plants in Nova Scotia. In response to complaints, NSE obtains a noise monitoring program from the wind developer, which they then review. This represents an inherent conflict of interest. This approach by NSE favours the interests of the wind power corporation and fails in its responsibility to act in the best interests of the environment and the residents of Nova Scotia. Further, in defending the wind developers’ protocols for noise monitoring, NSE has made false claims and misrepresented the technical literature demonstrating that NSE lacks the necessary competencies to credibly evaluate sound monitoring protocols.
Nova Scotia has shown a callous disregard to the adverse health effects experienced by some residents living in proximity to wind power plants, leaving them with no help from their government. Cheryl LaRocque, living near the Amherst wind power plant writes that after the years started to pass with no response from the many requests and letters for help, she “faded away from the exhaustion from sleepless nights, the pain in my ears, my dizziness, falling, vestibular dysfunction, and headaches”, and that there were days she could “barely function”.
These petitions were necessitated by the Nova Scotia governments failure to responsibly establish health objectives and provide a credible noise monitoring program that enforces those objectives and to give a voice to those who have been forgotten and dismissed by this government. As Ms. LaRocque writes, “it seems, my voice is not worthy of their attention.”
Kristen Overmyer holds a Masters in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University and has acted in the role of acoustical engineer for Bendix Research Labs, Southfield, Michigan. He has applied that experience in taking sound measurements at homes affected by wind turbine acoustical emissions in Nova Scotia. These measurements demonstrated that the wind turbines were performing at 5 decibels over the computer model predictions on days the residents considered the turbines to “not be very loud”. These findings have been repeatedly reported to NSE.
In 2009, as President of the Eco Awareness Society, he initiated an investigation under section 115 of the Nova Scotia Environment Act against Shear Wind Inc., for allegedly providing false and misleading information to Nova Scotia Environment in the environmental assessment application for their Glen Dhu wind power plant. The filing alleged extensive plagiarism and five counts of false and misleading statements in the addendum’s health section where conclusions and data were altered from the original health literature and Shear Wind’s author was falsely represented as an expert on the health effects posed by industrial wind turbines.
In one example of altered data, Shear Wind cites a study wherein a range of medical symptoms such as sleep disturbance, tinnitus, ear pressure, dizziness, nausea, problems with concentration, tachycardia, etc. are reported for families living from 305 meters to 1.5 kilometers from industrial wind turbines. Shear Wind altered these numbers and reported the maximum distance as only 457 meters instead of the actual 1.5 kilometers. At that time, there were seven homes closer than 1.5 kilometers to wind turbines in the proposed project.
NSE’s brief response more than seven months after the investigation was initiated stated “…it has been concluded that there is insufficient evidence to support a charge in this matter…”, leaving these false and misleading statements to remain as factual in the environmental assessment of this project.
Five years after this finding by NSE, the Eco Awareness Society received an unredacted copy of this investigation under Freedom of Information. Kathleen Johnson, P.Eng., Regional Engineer, NSE found that Shear Wind did falsify the distance and that 4 of the remaining statements were misleading and 1 was outside the department’s jurisdiction. NSE’s own engineer agreed with the allegations made by the Eco Awareness Society. Yet NSE avoided taking any action that would implicate Environmental Assessment for serious misconduct and breach of public duty in having approved Shear Wind’s environmental assessment addendum with full knowledge of the false statements and plagiarism.
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