Ontario Wind Turbines – The Good the Bad and the Ugly – an update
The following is from a presentation by Anne Dumbrille, Chair of CCSAGE at the Annual General Meeting held at Bloomfield Town Hall, Saturday, May 5, 2018
Welcome everyone, special welcome to our MPP Todd Smith, Acting Mayor Dianne O’Brien and Councillor Steve Ferguson.
I am giving an update on what is happened in Ontario regarding turbines in the last year. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – not always in that order.
- In 2017, the media has been more outspoken about adverse impacts of turbines e.g.,
- Two major networks, Global News and Radio-Canada, carried multi-part investigative reports this past year. The three-part Global News feature spurred questions in the Legislature and forced the then-minister to act on noise complaints for several Huron County families.
- Fraser Inst. Publication Mid- April. They published Understanding the Changes in Ontario’s Electricity Markets and Their Effects criticized the GEA, speaking to it causing high energy costs, losing manufacturing jobs, and not improving the environment.
- Auditor General criticized Liberal accounting practices re energy costs, fair energy plan; it was well covered in major newspapers
Noise from turbines consists of audible and low frequency noise/ infrsound –these affect brain waves but may be inaudible.
- A team at University of Waterloo has created a special chamber in which infrasound can be produced, in the hopes that health researchers can determine unequivocally effects of infrasound at levels produced by turbines on people.
- Australian Court (similar to our ERT) linked wind turbine generated LFN and infrasound noise with possible diseases including hypertension and cardiovascular disease, possibly mediated in part by disturbed sleep and/or psychological stress/distress – it found an established association between annoyance (used as a medical term) and some diseases that result from prolonged stress. They say effects of LFN include motion-sickness-like symptoms, vertigo, and tinnitus -like symptoms.
It was also established that the current method adopted by windfarms to measure noise (including in Canada) — the dB(A) scale, is not suitable for the task, as it does not measure the lower frequency range. The dB(A) scale averages out the sound levels, masking the highest levels and rate of change of noise that could be causing harmful health side-effects.
This is consistent with what the UK noise association said in 2006. 12 years ago.
MOECC still will not address infrasound.
The Environmental Commissioner’s office wrote a report criticizing the government for approving 100% of turbine company permits to kill harm and harass endangered species.
But – BAD they followed that up with one that makes superficial and false statements on the health impacts of wind turbines. She says there is no link between wind turbine noise and health effects — based on ERT conclusions. She does not say that it is next to impossible to win an ERT appeal on health. She said that noise impacts are controlled through setbacks and noise limits in the REAs.
What of the over 4500 records of health/noise complaints filed by people living near turbines in Ontario with the government since 2006? And the out-of-compliance turbines. This is important as if the local turbines are built, they may not be noise compliant.
Bad-Turbines have been out of noise compliance with poor-to-totally lacking government response:
Port Elgin has one (Unifor) turbine – and have been complaining for years about the noise. Finally MOECC said that noise testing did show that it was out of compliance. A noise abatement protocol has to be put in place. The engineering report was filed with the MOECC in January, and then to the wrong Municipality in March – and finally to those affected. There is to be repeat testing in June–if it is out of compliance again -then what? Unknown.
Complaints regarding the Huron-Bruce Turbines in K2 Wind power project led to noise testing a year ago. Turbines were found to be out of compliance with Ontario regulations (April 2017). Since then, MOECC has done nothing.
Kincardine area has made multiple noise complaints over years, have been told testing is ongoing, but somehow, the tests are never completed, and the problem continues. In December they were told by MOECC that nothing was being done. And MOECC will not respond to complaints during an audit. The audit process started in December 2011 and is still not complete.
- Last summer, a Brinston area resident wrote to Minister Murray about the complete lack of response to her reports of excessive noise (she has had to sleep in her basement on occasion because of the noise and vibration). An officer telephoned her and said:
- Ministry staff were completely unprepared for wind turbine noise complaints.
- They still don’t really know what to do.
- They “lost” her records — even though she had so many reports that the MOECC actually installed equipment and did noise measurement for several days.
- Last, it was too bad they lost everything pertaining to her situation and reports but it didn’t really matter, she was told because “You’re the only one complaining.”
- With thousands of noise complaints recorded with the government unresolved, MOECC still refuse to acknowledge the problem, and refuses to look for causes.
- Good: The MOECC finally admitted previous guidelines resulted in underestimating the noise at nearby homes – the modelling used to predict these impacts was wrong.
- Last April 21, MOECC released a new protocol intended for “assessing noise from wind turbines that have already been built. It is used by industry and ministry staff to monitor compliance.” And compliance documents are to be publically available.
- The result of non-compliance is: 1 – Remodel turbines; 2 – conduct a receptor audit at worst affected receptor from that turbine –or mitigation is required
Slide 9 Bad: However:
- Still no recognition of low frequency noise. And, it hasn’t resulted in any effective changes.
- Still – when WCO complained about the lack of response regarding noise and lack of a posted compliance report, they were told that the report cannot be posted as the turbine company’s documents are incomplete. (The turbines had been running for 3 years)
- Although the government knows the modeling done by wind companies is wrong, they are allowing 5 new large-scale wind projects to follow the old guidelines. If they followed the new guidelines, about 3/4 of these turbines would have to be relocated or removed as they are predicted to be out of compliance with the new noise guidelines. At one project 11 of 12 would be out of compliance.
- So in January, 5 affected communities filed a JR application against MOECC as surely, Ontario regulations and directives that limit the amount of noise any residence in the province should have to be followed. The claim is – transition provisions were put in place by the ministry to allow those wind turbine companies to use the old regulations without having to provide evidence that they were unable to comply with the new noise modelling guidelines (Dutton Dunwich, North Stormont, La Nation, and Wallaceburg)
- Wind Concerns Ontario taking Minister Murray to court May 18 for violating the Environmental Protection Act for permitting noise that causes adverse health events. According to WCO Access to information requests, of 4500 complaints noise/sleeplessness and other health-related effects received, few were followed up – only ~7% in 2015-16.
- In SW Ontario, in an area with sedimentary rock similar to that here, during and after IWT construction, well contamination has been reported – such that some wells are completely clogged, some failed simultaneously from pile-driving during construction. Some have not used their well for 4 years.
- Before and after tests sent to Laboratories in Michigan show an exponential increase [in] turbidity among the affected wells, including [a] large proportion that can be attributed to black shale particles that are known to contain heavy metals, including uranium, arsenic and lead.
- An ERT had warned that water wells in that area could be damaged.
- A professional geologist said: the relationship between the installation of wind turbines and the contamination of wells is obvious. When you have a [pure] water source for years and [transforms] a few days after the construction of an industrial facility. You do not have to be a genius to see that there is a link of cause and effect.
- He had agreement from geoscientist and geological engineer.
The project’s owner claims it has nothing to do with the problem.
MOECC’s response — While there’s been an admission that wells have indeed been contaminated, contamination can only be attributed to “unidentified factors.” They maintain that pile-driving activities associated with wind turbine development are not to blame. This conclusion was based on evaluations prepared by the power developer’s consultant.
MOECC say that you should only test your water for bacteria.
Quinte Region Proposed Source Protection Plan Version 8.1 Aug 2012: Section 2.4: “Due to the shallow soil conditions, the entire Quinte area was identified and mapped as a highly vulnerable aquifer. This designation was a direct result of the ease with which a contaminant can move into the underlying fractured bedrock aquifer.”
- In 2017 alone, reported in the media:
- 181 accidents.* Note that there is massive underreporting. RenewableUK confirmed that of 1500 wind turbine accidents and incidents in the UK alone between 2006 and 2011, only 9% are on the global report. So there may have been more like 1800 accidents.
But it gives information on a cross-section of accidents: –
- Of the 181, there were 17 fatal accidents, 13 injury accidents, 16 blade failure (blade or partial blade throws, travelling up to 1 mile), 24 fires, 14 structural failures (storm damage, tower collapse), 19 transport – related (biggest cause of public injury/fatalities, e.g. ram through a house, turbine parts falling off).
- Turbine collapse in Chatham-Kent January
- And in Germany, bits of blade travelled over 500 m –yes, the distance to neighbouring houses by Ontario regulations.
- MOECC, MNRF – Apparently – still blind, deaf and dumb regarding turbine effects and violations
- All rules and regulations can be broken for the precious GEA
- Compliance is only met only if citizens fight (and pay) for it
- Feds (Health Canada, Environment Canada) – no better