Ottawa silent on wind turbine noise
Originally published in the Toronto Sun on June 29, 2016 by Jim McPherson.
The federal government’s inaction on wind turbine noise is making Canadians sick.
It’s been a year-and-a-half since Health Canada’s $2-million study determined low-frequency acoustic waves from industrial wind turbines cause community annoyance.
According to the World Health Organization, unwanted noise, even at a moderate level, can lead to a myriad of adverse health outcomes, including stress-related symptoms such as sleep disturbance, elevated blood pressure, cardiac events and depression.
It’s a “green” form of radiation sickness.
Canada’s Radiation Emitting Devices Act (REDA) is supposed to regulate the design and operation of devices that emit radiation, such as microwave ovens and tanning beds.
In sworn testimony at an environmental review tribunal, a Health Canada official confirmed industrial wind turbines — large, noise-emitting devices — are regulated by REDA.
REDA requires a manufacturer or importer of such a device to “forthwith notify the Minister” upon becoming aware its device is emitting radiations not necessary for the performance of its function.
On June 15, Barbara Ashbee of Mulmur, Ontario, together with hundreds of other Ontarians, sent an open letter to Health Minister Jane Philpott, asking why Health Canada has not insisted wind energy corporations report citizen complaints about noise radiation.
She wants the minister to meet with her and representatives of citizens suffering from turbine noise radiations.
Ashbee wrote: “Many in Ontario and elsewhere have logged serious health complaints with proponents/operators of wind turbine projects, provincial and federal government ministries as well as wind turbine manufacturers … As previous ministers and current Minister Philpott have been informed, the adverse effects of wind turbines are not trivial.”
Access to Information records indicate wind energy corporations have reported no complaints.
Why is Health Canada not forcing wind turbine operators to report citizen complaints, as required?
Is the wind industry lobby that strong?
Why were Canadians not told wind turbine corporations are required to report citizen complaints to Health Canada? Were wind energy companies also not told about the REDA?
Why did Health Canada’s Wind Turbine Noise and Health study exclude people under age 18 and over age 79, the most vulnerable segments of Canada’s population?
Why do REDA regulations not include standards for the design and operation of wind turbines, as they do for microwave ovens, etc.?
Prior to the 2015 federal election, Canadians for Radiation Emission Enforcement (CFREE) asked candidates in wind turbine-affected Ontario ridings: “Will you support a moratorium on new wind turbines within 2 km of residences, until REDA regulations are updated to clearly stipulate wind turbine operators must comply with REDA, and to include scientifically proven safe setback distances?”
The survey revealed equal support from candidates of all four parties for a wind turbine moratorium. Only three candidates opposed it, but none were elected. In Ontario, the turbine setback is only 550 meters from residences.
Other countries are extending setbacks to safer distances.
In Poland, the setback is now ten times turbine height.
In closely settled Bavaria, it is now two kilometres.
But there is no such action from Health Canada. No moratorium. No change in setbacks. No standards in REDA.
More wind projects are planned. More Canadians are getting sick.
Openness and transparency are supposedly important to the federal Liberal government.
What will Prime Minister Justin Trudeau do about Health Canada’s inaction on wind turbines?
McPherson is a retired professional engineer living in Tweed, Ont. where there are no wind turbines.