An Antrim resident is installing a device on his property that will allow him to continuously monitor low-frequency sound waves generated at Antrim Wind Energy’s wind turbine installation when it goes live.
Richard Block of Loveren Mill Road said Monday that the small device – called a Raspberry Shake and Boom – is a seismic and infrasound monitoring station. The device’s sensor will allow for monitoring of local earthquake, blasting, and extreme storm activity, as well as monitoring noises generated by the wind turbines that cannot be heard within the normal limits of human hearing.
“I’m willing to be open minded,” Block said. “I’ve read a lot of reports about people having serious health problems and being driven out of their homes because of the sound of the wind turbines.”
The installation of the device is a collaborative project between the retired Block – a former graphic communications professor at Franklin Pierce University – and his friend since high school, Alan Kafka, a seismologist and director of the Weston Observatory at Boston College.
Block and Kafka first discussed the idea during a monthly lunch in Nashua on Aug. 20. The two created a proposal and found a private investor to fund the purchase of device within a week.
“We decided it would make sense to get started as soon as possible so we can have a baseline bunch of data of infrasound for this area before turbines go into operation,” Block said. “When they do go into operation – which is at least a year off, according to their building schedule – we will be able to chart the differences.”
Other friends may collaborate on the project when data collection begins, Block said, including someone in Wisconsin who is doing research about potential health effects caused by exposure to infrasound generated from wind turbines.
“I can’t do much with the data by myself, but with the help of some friends I will be able to use it… to see if we can determine the affects [of the turbines,]” Block said.
When the monitoring station goes live, it will be linked to a network of seismic stations with Boston College, Columbia University, and other government networks. The data will be public for anyone to view, provided they have the correct program.
Beyond Block’s personal use, the collaborative project allows Kafka to utilize the system for educational and public outreach purposes. The project will collaborate with Weston Observatory’s Boston College Educational Seismology Project.
The project will also fill a gap between seismic stations currently operating in Hanover, Chester, Vermont, and Royalston, Massachusetts, Block said.
“Once it’s here, it gets connected to the internet and it does its own thing. The data is available from any place, it’s public information,” he said.
Installing the device is Block’s latest attempt to fight and/or monitor the development, approval, and construction of the nine turbine system, which is being constructed on Tuttle Hill and Willard Mountain.
Portions of Block’s property are located about a half-mile from one of the turbines. Based on simulations, Block says a number of turbines will be able to be seen from his home, which he moved to with his wife in 1988.
Block’s initial opposition to the project dealt with land conservation efforts. In total, Block owns 242 acres of land on the north side of Route 9.
“Willard Pond is one of the most pristine ponds in southern New Hampshire,” Block said. “The entire property around it is owned by New Hampshire Audubon – it’s their largest wildlife sanctuary – which is why the pond is so pure, and you will see all nine turbines from out on Willard Pond.”
In addition to a visual impact on the land, Block said many wildlife habitats will be disturbed throughout construction.
After doing more research on wind turbines, Block determined that wind energy isn’t as green as many let on. Though he admits to losing friends over his views, Block maintains that wind energy is “largely a scam” as they cost enormous amounts of money and have a tremendous impact on the environment – both where they are constructed and where materials are generated.
“There are systems that work, generally they are small and better designed,” Block said.
One of Block’s largest concerns with the wind turbines is infrasound – sound frequencies less than 20 hertz – as there has been debate about low frequency sound leading to health problems like annoyance, sleep disturbance, headaches, and nausea.
Block himself said he experienced a severe headache when visiting a wind turbine in Lempster, one that didn’t go away until he left the facility.
For Block, the idea collecting data on the Antrim Wind Project has given him a second wind in his fight against the project. At one, point, Block considered moving away.
“I really like this property. I was at a meeting with a group of people who were talking about strategies to deal with this and I started realizing there are still other people here,” Block said. “There is one thing I’ve gotten really good at over the past nine years, being a pain in the butt to Antrim Wind.”