Residents opposed to wind turbines in the community say council should make health a priority.
Representatives of West Lincoln Glanbrook Wind Action Group and Mothers Against Turbines Inc. were before council again last Monday, asking for assistance from council in their fight against industrial wind turbines. The groups are asking for $110,000 — $50,000 to assist MAWT in launching a judicial review of the Environmental Review Tribunal hearing in December, $40,000 towards a charter challenge both groups are part of as well as for the establishment of a noise bylaw and purchase of equipment to measure noise and another $30,000 for community outreach.
“The health is a priority,” said Caistor Centre resident Ed Engel, a member of WLGWAG.
Engel told members of council funding to mitigate health problems should be a “top priority” for the township. He said residents are already experiencing impacts on their health and more are destined to once Niagara Region Wind Corporation’s project is built and operational.
“Protection of public health should rate with fire protection and safe bridges,” Engel told council at last week’s budget meeting.
Mike Jankowski, his wife and their three daughters are some of those residents already feeling ill due to wind turbines. Jankowski, president of WLGWAG which became incorporated late last year, said everyone in his household has been suffering from a ringing in the ears, vertigo, dizziness and trouble concentrating. His 10-year-old daughter has suffered two migraines with stroke-like symptoms. An MRI could not diagnose the cause for the migraines. Doctors have no answers for the symptoms the Jankowskis are experiencing.
“We experienced these symptoms for the first time in our lives once the turbines went up,” said Jankowski, who lives 4.7 kilometres from the nearest turbine in the HAF Wind Energy project which went into operation last June.
It’s not so much the noise from the turbines that are making life unbearable for the Jankowskis, it’s what they can’t hear.
Infrasound is is a low pitch noise that is below the hearing limit of human hearing. Ministry of Environment regulations do not take into account this type of sound and its effects on people living near turbines, said Jankowski. He said one acoustician in Ontario was able to measure infrasound from a wind turbine 126 kilometres from the source. Another sound expert, he said, has proven that these sound levels are higher in the home than outside it.
Jankowski knows infrasound is present at his Range Road home. He can feel it pulsating in the concrete.
“The whole mass becomes alive with noise and vibration,” said Jankowski, who discovered the link when the vibrating stopped in tandem with the idling of the turbine.
He said without that reaction, he would still be scratching his over why his family’s health, including his own, suddenly turned for the worst. “I would have no idea what the health problems were caused by.”
Proving the existence of inaudible noise will accomplish two goals: increase the credibility of resident’s reports and better enable groups and municipalities to lobby authorities to include infrasound limitations in the Green Energy Act.
“This equipment would help the township protect the people, protect the health of people,” said Anne Fairfield, noting the 77 turbines NRWC plans to erect will impact thousands of West Lincoln residents. “We have a huge problem now. We are going to have a catastrophe if we don’t do something.”
The bylaw and equipment could also be a source of revenue for the township, said Jankowski, noting it will enable the township to fine wind operators.
The ultimate hope for WLGWAG and MAWT, however, is to stop more turbines from going up in West Lincoln.
“It could collapse wind projects here because they become unprofitable when they are not operating and developers face stiff fines,” said Jankowski.
If council approves any funding, it would not be the first municipal council to do so. Lambton County dedicated $80,000 to assist the Middlesex Lambton Wind Action Group in a charter challenge. The Municipality of Bluewater also assisted the group to the tune of $40,000. The Municipality of Grey Highlands assisted a local wind group with $15,000 towards an environmental review tribunal.