NewEnergyNews: THE SOUND OF THE WIND

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    Friday, April 25, 2008

    THE SOUND OF THE WIND

    What a great story this is: Which brother-in-law is Cain and which is Abel? Or, from a different point of view, which is Abbott and which is Costello?

    Charlie Porter and County Commissioner Gary Carlson, his brother-in-law, came to blows in February. Charlie says Carlson’s Blue Ridge wind farm is making him sick, driving him crazy and making his house valueless. Carlson says Charlie is mad because there are no turbines on his property so he’s not earning income from the installation.

    There is something some doctors anecdotally call “wind turbine syndrome.” It is a set of symptoms that include headaches, anxiety attacks and high blood pressure as well as an inconsistent cluster of other symptoms like sleep interruptions, dizziness, nausea, exhaustion, anger and irritability, or, in short, a lot of the same things that come from a bad reaction to over-the-counter medications. It seems to be associated with living too close to the constant low frequency sound of the turbine blades turning.

    Charlie Porter: “It’s like somebody swinging a rope over your head…Some days, it’s worse than other days. The only way you can get away from it is to drive into town.”

    Wind tower strobe lights are also part of the lawsuit Porter has filed against the wind farm, claiming harm to himself, his wife and his 11-year-old daughter.

    Kenneth Smith, Kansas City audiologist/founder, Hearing Associates/fellow, American Academy of Audiology: “This has to make you nervous as a scientist…It’s risky to draw conclusions…Does noise bother people differently? Absolutely…It can have a very debilitating effect.”

    On the other hand, studies of the huge Horse Hollow wind farm in Texas found the sound (44 dBA) to be the same as the noise level inside the average residence (40 to 45 dBA), according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

    Charlie filed his lawsuit after a meeting with his brother-in-law went wrong and Carlson knocked him down. Charlie can have that effect on people: “I’m not afraid to speak my mind…I’m kind of a ‘tell it like it is and let the chips fall where they may’ kind of guy.”

    Many locals are not especially sympathetic to Charlie. Tom Carnahan, the wind developer and son of a former Missouri governor: “The claims he makes are largely things...you see on the fanatically anti-wind Web sites…He doesn’t reflect the large, large majority in the community, and I’m sorry he is not seeing the benefits that they are.”

    Brother-in-law Carlson: “If you are focused that the wind turbines are going to be a problem in your life, then they are going to be a problem in your life…”


    click to enlarge

    12 of the 27 turbines are on Carlson’s property but none are on Charlie’s. Each turbine earns the landowner $3,000/year.

    Local banker David Waltemath: “It’s been said if he’d gotten the tower (on his property), he wouldn’t be throwing such a fit…Everybody else has been very positive.”

    Actually, the developer moved a turbine away from Charlie, at a $50,000 expense. Why it was moved and why it was not moved farther will no doubt come out in the lawsuit.

    If wind installations are properly sited, they create no problems. If they are improperly sited, they give the entire industry a bad name. The wind industry goes to extraordinary lengths to see that installations are properly sited.

    Nina Pierpont, New York pediatrician/lecturer, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, on “wind turbine syndrome”: “A setback of 1.5 miles from homes, schools, hospitals and similar institutes will probably be adequate ... to protect people from the adverse health effects of industrial wind turbines…”

    There have been court cases determining noise not to be a problem with properly sited turbines and there is a web page of testimony to the non-problem that turbine noise has been for many at the
    Alliance for Clean Energy New York. Academic studies have suggested specific distances residences need to be from turbines.

    Christine Real de Azua, AWEA: “…claims about wind turbine sound should be thoroughly investigated…no scientific information exists that indicates this is a widespread problem, or even what the issues are at specific sites. Most projects operate without complaints from neighboring residents…while some people are more sensitive to sound than others, complaints should be verified by studies…”

    NewEnergyNews happens to know Real de Azua and that comment sounds like her restrained way of implying there is more to this story. How Charlie Porter got caught in the middle of a wind farm will hopefully come out in the legal proceedings. If the wind developers are at fault, they need to take responsibility. It could be that Charlie got himself into this. He seems to be that kind of guy.


    The Bluegrass Ridge wind farm. (click to enlarge)

    Are wind farm turbines making people sick? Some say yes
    Karen Dillon, April 17, 2008 (McClatchy via Pantagraph)

    WHO
    Charlie Porter, Commissioner Gary Carlson

    Tom Carnahan at the Bluegrass Ridge wind farm. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    Is Bluegrass Ridge wind farm making Charlie Porter sick?

    WHEN
    Bluegrass Ridge wind farm was dedicated in September 2007.

    A Google map. (click to enlarge)

    WHERE
    - Bluegrass Ridge wind farm is near King City, Gentry County, northwest Missouri.
    - Charlie Porter’s house is less than 2,000 feet from turbines. He has had his property up for sale for a year without a buyer.

    WHY
    - Bluegrass Ridge wind farm has 27 turbines, none on Charlie Porter’s property.
    - Doctors in Canada, England, France, Australia and New Zealand, have written papers about “wind turbine syndrome.” It has been documented in sensitive people living 1,000 ft. to 1.5mi from turbines.
    - Sounds occurring at or below the frequency band 500 Hz seem to cause “vibro-acoustic” disease in sensitive people.

    Some locals like the installation. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Charlie Porter: “The sound gets in your head like a saw and you can’t get rid of it…Some people compare it to a train that never arrived.”
    - National Academy of Medicine, Paris: “…chronic sound trauma [from wind turbines could] constitute a permanent risk for the people exposed to them.”

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