Submission to Health Canada Wind Turbine Noise and Health Study, 2012
Before anything, we recommend that the comment period be extended another month to September 8th, as many people are on vacation.
Inasmuch as the health studies to be undertaken evidence an insufficient knowledge in the matter, a precautionary approach should be applied to the construction of more wind farms, until such time as the heatlh authorities are satisfied that no risk exists. Moreover, there is sufficient evidence available to show that there is indeed a health risk. Eminent epidemiologist and professor Dr. Carl Phillips has said it without leaving room for doubt:
“There is overwhelming evidence that wind turbines cause serious health problems in nearby residents, usually stress‐disorder type diseases, at a nontrivial rate. The bulk of the evidence takes the form of thousands of adverse event reports. There is also a small amount of systematically‐gathered data. The adverse event reports provide compelling evidence of the seriousness of the problems and of causation in this case because of their volume, the ease of observing exposure and outcome incidence, and case‐ crossover data. Proponents of turbines have sought to deny these problems by making a collection of contradictory claims including that the evidence does not “count”, the outcomes are not “real” diseases, the outcomes are the victims’ own fault, and that acoustical models cannot explain why there are health problems so the problems must not exist. These claims appeared to have swayed many non‐expert observers, though they are easily debunked. Moreover, though the failure of models to explain the observed problems does not deny the problems, it does mean that we do not know what, other than kilometers of distance, could sufficiently mitigate the effects. There has been no policy analysis that justifies imposing these effects on local residents. The attempts to deny the evidence cannot be seen as honest scientific disagreement, and represent either gross incompetence or intentional bias.” (1)
No less prominent Dr. Robert McMurtry said: “the admission by Health Minister Aglukkaq that there are substantial gaps in our knowledge reveals the absence of evidence-based guidelines. There is thus the need for a moratorium on further IWT development until the requisite evidence of safe placement of wind turbines is available.” (2)
It is abundantly clear that a moratorium is needed. The 539 associations of wind turbine victims that are members of EPAW (epaw.org) have been asking for a freeze on windfarm development ever since their regroupment under our umbrella organization in 2008. European politicians, either moved by personal ambition to take the perceived moral leadership of the world, or because their electoral campaigns are financed with the help of windfarm interests (3), have ignored their cry for help. The democratic right of citizens to be protected against illness by their respective governments has been violated, and legal action is in progress to seek redress. In the meantime, they are turning their eyes towards Ottawa, in the hope that the studies to be launched by the Canadian government will vindicate them. They have suffered too long already, and look to Canada for real moral leadership.
The windfarm saga has been plagued with bogus studies whose conclusions were determined beforehand by the wind industry and their political allies. The windfarm victims of the world are now looking for a bona fide study, an objective one carried out by independent specialists. To be valid, it must comprise a full spectrum measurement of sound and infresound inside the homes of victims, at such times of the day or night that will be determined by them so as to coincide with the apparition of symptoms. And to avoid the risk of windfarm operators manipulating the pitch of the blades to make them emit less vibrations during the tests, here are the recommendations of an acoustician with experience in measuring the sound from wind turbines:
"If the operator is aware of the testing there is always the chance that the wind turbines will be set to operate in a “low noise” mode. The outside observer would not know this is being done by looking at the turbines. Any tests of noise must be correlated to the turbine power output and the wind conditions at the hub to confirm that the blades have not been positioned so as to give the appearance of operation while the aerodynamic processes that produce the noise are not present. This information is available from the SCADA software used to control the turbines in 10 minute increments and maintained as part of the operating records.
If the MDEP staffer or the citizen doing the noise measurements cannot be sure that the turbine’s operating modes are the ones that produce the noises that lead to complaints what is the point of taking measurements?
The operator will claim this information is proprietary or even “trade secret” and avoid making it available to confirm test conditions. The best way to test wind turbines is to do the testing without the operator’s knowledge and then after the testing is complete request the SCADA details for the periods of interest. If one is not familiar with a particular project’s performance then having the SCADA details for a broader timespan is needed to confirm that the operating conditions during testing match operating conditions during other times when there was no reason for the operator to run in a low noise mode."
We recommend that his recommendations be incorporated into the design of your study.
It is evident that we are dealing with a highly complex matter, and also one that must be handled by absolutely independent experts. With this in mind, we agree with Dr Robert McMurtry that the study should be conducted by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, not by Health Canada (2).
We also recommend that the following experts participate in the study, and that their opinions be published:
Dr. Robert Y. McMurtry, M.D., F.R.C.S. (C), F.A.C.S., Canada; Carmen Krogh, BSc Pharm, Researcher Wind Turbines - Adverse Health and Social Justice, Canada; Stephen Ambrose, Acoustician, USA; Dr. Jeffery Aramini, Epidemiologist, Canada; Dr Arline Bronzaft, Noise and Health Specialist, USA; Dr Steven Cooper, ENG Fellow Australian Acoustical Society and Member of Institute of Noise Control, USA; Professor Phillip Dickinson, Acoustician, New Zealand; Barbara J. Frey BA, MA and Peter J. Haddon, BSc, FRICS, Scotland; Dr Christopher Hanning, BSc, MB, BS, MRCS,LRCS, LRCP, FRCA, MD, Sleep Disturbance and Wind Turbines, UK; Professor Colin Hansen, Acoustician, Australia; Dr Magda Havas, Biological and Health Effects of Electromagnetic and Chemical Pollution, Canada; Richard James, INCE Acoustician, USA; Dr Mauri Johansson, Specialist in Community Health and Occupational Medicine, Denmark; Dr. Sarah Laurie, CEO Waubra Foundation, Australia; Professor Henrik Moeller, Acoustic Specialist, Denmark; Dr. Michael Nissenbaum, Radiologist, USA; Dr. Carl Phillips, Epidemiologist, USA; Dr. Nina Pierpont, Author of Wind Turbine Syndrome, USA; Robert Rand, Acoustician, USA; Dr. Daniel Shepherd, Noise and Health Specialist, New Zealand; Dr Malcolm Swinbanks, Acoustician, UK; Dr.Robert Thorne, Health Sciences and Acoustics, Australia.
Only in this way would the study be objective and thorough. On the other hand, should it not be credible, it would be a waste of Canadian taxpayers' money, and an unfortunate blot on the reputation of your good country. The first measure of its objective nature will be if a moratorium is called.
The world is watching.
1) - Professor Carl Phillips' study: http://epaw.org/documents.php?lang=en&article=ns23
2) - Dr. Robert McMurtry's comments: http://epaw.org/press/EPAW_NA-PAW_media_release_19July2012.pdf
3) - Financing election campaigns in the US with money from windfarm interests - we have no reason to believe it is much different from what is happening in Europe and elsewhere: http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2011/11/13/how-obama-s-alternative-energy-programs-became-green-graft.html