Wind turbines are a dangerous idea for Lake Erie
Credit: Mark Twichell. Oct 29, 2022. buffalonews.com ~~
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Exposing the inherent flaws of a dangerous idea is best done early. The idea of utilizing wind energy above the waters of Lake Erie is again a focus of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) in their soon-to-be published second feasibility study. The first report by NYSERDA (in 2011) lists many concerns about placing wind turbines and their infrastructure in one of the world’s largest freshwater ecosystems and drinking water sources.
Since then, threats to drinking water quality from wind turbine pollution have received much attention within the wind industry. Microplastic shedding from turbine blades, known as Leading Edge Erosion, is a great concern to manufacturers who are forced to repair the damage that occurs after only a couple of years. The particles eroded from blades include epoxy which is 40% Bisphenol-A (BPA), a frequently banned endocrine disruptor and neurotoxin. Academic research has shown the potential for 137 pounds of epoxy microparticles to be shed per turbine per year.
The resulting annual BPA release can potentially contaminate 17 million gallons of drinking water per turbine while threatening aquatic and terrestrial life. The NY State Department of Public Service has ruled that wind energy facility owners can’t withhold wind turbine blade damage reports from neighbors out of concern for these and other risks.
Minimizing the shedding depends on specialized blade coatings that contain toxic ingredients from the PFAS family of “forever” chemicals which are biologically cumulative and nondegradable. These coatings likewise need replacement after a few years. PFAS is also a common ingredient in lubricants and hydraulic fluids which routinely leak from wind turbines.
NY State has banned PFAS from food packaging and has set a maximum concentration of PFAS in public drinking water supplies at 10 parts per trillion. The Village of Mayville in Chautauqua County became the first community in our state to force its residents to drink bottled water due to village wells contaminated by PFAS.
The 2011 NYSERDA report acknowledges a century’s industrial toxins sequestered in Lake Erie’s sedimentary bed. But there are no explanations of how the components of a wind energy facility can be installed without disrupting the sediments and releasing the toxins into the drinking water of millions.
The tragic events in Flint, Mich., reveal the dangers of water system mismanagement by state officials. The health of our region’s largest natural asset is beyond the arbitrary goals of state energy policy. The risk of poisoning Lake Erie’s waters by wind turbines can’t be justified by any level of climate concern.
Mark Twichell is an advisory committee member, Citizens Against Wind Turbines In Lake Erie.
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