Wind turbines still a health concern for group

11:39 May 6 2009 Ripley, ON N0G, Canada

For Sandy MacLeod and a group of 11 neighbours living in the Ripley industrial wind turbine project, it's been a very long 18 months. They just want the healthy home environment they had enjoyed for some three to 32 years returned. "We just want it to be over," said MacLeod. The simple request goes out to the companies Acciona and Suncor that own the project and to the provincial Liberal government who approved the operating standards. The group also includes John and Erin MacLeod, Brenda and Glen Wylds, Helen and Ross Forster, Barbara Basser, Melissa Cammaert, Kent Wylds and their daughter Keiara plus David Colling who has been helping the group by testing electrical pollution at their properties. In a recent interview, at the MacLeod residence, all made it clear that the familys' environments had two changes occur simultaneously in November of 2007. First there was a change in the hydro configuration to their homes enabling electrical pollution to enter via a cross contamination from the wind turbine high voltage collection lines. The second change was the repetitive sound, both low frequency and audible from the blades of the industrial turbines that began rotating close to and above the height of their homes. Since these two changes, all began experiencing sleep deprivation, humming in the head and ears, stress, anxiety, heart palpitations, increased blood pressure, vibrations in the chest, earaches, headaches, an increased sensitivity to noise and sore eyes. It gets worse when the winds increase. Before the development was up and running they had questions. "In May 2007 we had set up regular monthly meetings with representatives from both companies to answers our concerns about health, property values, construction problems, and the bird population," said Helen Forster. At each meeting they asked the wind developers to produce the protocol they used if a "stakeholder" had health problems in one of their other wind projects. No protocol was ever produced. They were assured over and over that the E-82 turbine was the 'Cadillac' of turbines and if there was a health problem that the companies would work forward to resolve the problem. The problems got worse. Between May to July of 2008 the Forster, MacLeod and family members became so ill they were billeted in hotels, motels and boarding homes in Kincardine paid for by the wind company. That's when David Colling, an electrical pollution consultant and the wind representative found another group of victims in the Wyld's family. "We too began to be billeted in Kincardine for the next six months," said Glen Wylds. During time away from the harmful environment all stated that their symptoms began to decrease. This huge life upheaval continued until the companies had the homes disconnected from Hydro One and put on stand alone generators for months to determine if the electrical pollution could be a factor. This action helped as did burying two sections of high voltage collector lines, but, it wasn't back to 100 per cent. There were a lot of so-called delays and some people did not get back into their home until the Friday before Christmas. Nothing was done for others. After an underground line failure and winter winds, severe health problems forced Glen and Brenda Wylds to purchase and move to another residence in Kincardine. Sandy MacLeod experienced heart attack like symptoms and was ordered to have an alternative place to live and a health leave from work. More recently, in April, Kent, Melissa and their daughter Keiara Wylds have been billeted in a Kincardine motel by the oil company/wind developer. Today, two families have, at their own expense, been forced to modify their residence. Those who continue to reside in their homes continue to experience symptoms on a regular basis. After about an hour or two of being out of the area, Glen Wylds pretty much stops feeling the symptoms until he gets near fluorescent lighting. "I have documentation on electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) and what they are experiencing is like a peanut allergy," said David Colling. "Every time they go back into a similar environment their symptoms will reappear and EHS will likely be with them for the rest of their life." In a recent response from Acciona, Eric Schneider, the director of communications for North America, said, "We can't find any co-relation between their health concerns and the wind farm project. We have 208 wind farms in 14 countries and have never had these type of problems. I don't want to dismiss their symptoms, but it's not common to wind farms." However a supporter of the group and other victims in Ontario searching for a resolution to the health problems is Dr. Robert McMurtry M.D., F.R.C.S (C), F.A.C.S. who is former Dean of Medicine at the University of Western Ontario and an orthopedic consultant at St.Joseph's Hospital in London. Also, in December 2003, he was appointed to the Health Council of Canada, a post he still holds today. Dr. McMurtry gave a deputation on April 22 to the Standing Committee on General Government regarding Bill 150 (Ontario Green Energy Act). In the deputation he listed many of the health problems people living in wind projects in Ontario are experiencing and the lack of support being given by either government officials or wind turbine representatives. This is an excerpt from the document: "Let me be clear however as to my deepest concern: adverse health effects are occurring as we speak. Many victims have joined us today in the hope of being heard. There is no question that they are genuinely suffering and more people are at risk if the rules are not changed substantially." Dr. McMurtry also went on to refer to the problems the victims in Ontario are having in trying to get help for their health concerns. "Most disturbing of all are the comments describing the sheer anguish and sense of betrayal that many feel. No one seems to care; no one appears to be listening to their plight. They feel they are losing their homes and their lives. The situation has been exacerbated for many who have experienced denial and abusive behaviour by wind turbine representatives and on occasion from Ministry of the Environment officials." Dr. McMurtry ended his presentation with a proposal to the government by stating, "There is a way out of this dilemma. Authoritative guidelines must be established based on sound science. A well designed epidemiological study conducted by arms-length investigators, mutually agreeable to all sides must be done. In addition and far more simply is to engage sound engineers to determine the presence or absence of low frequency noise near existing wind farms in Ontario. Anything less would be an abandonment of responsibility by the government." The Ministry of Environment's (MOE) Owen Sound office received a directive from Dr. Hazel Lynn, the medical health officer for Grey Bruce, to investigate the health problems the Ripley victims reported to her in early December of 2008. Shawn Kerry, an MOE spokesperson, said they only respond to noise complaints. He said the MOE is there to keep the noise level at the regulated MOE level, which is 40 dBA taking into consideration background noise. He went on to say they have to wait for the outside consulting company, Jacques Whitford paid for by wind developers Acciona and Suncor, to finish their second sound testing. Then the MOE would be there to regulate the findings. "We all received the report on the first sound study done in May 2008 nine months later in February 2009, even though it was available months prior. In the first sound report four turbines within a one and a quarter mile of three homes did NOT meet the MOE poor standards of 40 dBA. That is 10.5 per cent of the whole field," said Sandy MacLeod. With health problems being the major concern for the group, many of them have consulted their family doctors over the past 18 months. As a group they have entered the OHIP system 61 times. One victim's OHIP costs were tallied by a local hospital's finance department at $5000. Some have been told to stay away from their homes and the area giving them the adverse health problems. "My doctor told me I may need to avoid the environment as much as possible," said Helen Forster. "We have taken three-year-old Keiara to the emergency room 10 times with problems and Dr. McMurtry said my daughter shouldn't be there (at their home in the Ripley Wind Project). Melissa as well because she is pregnant," said Kent Wylds. "My daughter has had earaches with screaming at night and not being active at all. Since we've been in Kincardine she's been a totally different kid." Dr. Lynn sent a letter on March 27 to Prime Minister Stephen Harper indicating that local residents and municipalities have expressed health concerns related to the increased use of wind turbines in Grey and Bruce Counties. The Health Board feels there is insufficient research and evidence. The communication however endorsed a resolution prepared by the Corporation of the County of Prince Edward regarding renewable energy, which urges all levels of the Canadian government to be responsible for public health, energy creation and energy management. At this time, no representatives from Grey Bruce Public Health Unit have been out to the Ripley Wind Project site, to interview the victims. One of the biggest disappointments for the group has been dealings with the Ontario Liberal Government representatives. "You might think that if a group of 11 victims reached out to the Premier of the province, the highest elected Liberal official, in a faxed letter, not once, but, four times that that would be enough to get intelligent, unbiased, scientists to investigate and help. But you would be disappointed. That is what I tried and my Premier or his Ministers didn't and don't care about rural Ontario taxpayers being harmed by wind projects," said Sandy MacLeod. It took from November 2008 to February 2009 with the help of Huron Kinloss clerk Mary Rose Walden to obtain a meeting with Huron-Bruce MPP Carol Mitchell. "We had a 30 minute meeting with Mitchell on Feb. 13. She stated that she knew all about us and the project. When asked if she would like to live in Glen's home to experience the harm, she fired back and asked if we would rather live near a pig barn or grain mill," said John MacLeod. Members of this group also addressed the Standing Committee on the General Government into Bill 150 the Green Energy Act. During that presentation they told Mitchell, "Point 3: We formally request that our M.P.P., Carol Mitchell resign from the standing committee and devote 100% of her time to resolving the harm to health of families in Kingsbridge, Ripley and now Tiverton wind projects. Ms. Mitchell needs to spend her time focusing on her constituents who hired her to do a job for them, "resolve their health problems". Some families have been suffering for more than three years." Statement from Victims of Wind - The Ripley Group: "Return Our Health and Homes and Prevent harm to Ontario Citizens presentation. At the same meeting Glen Wylds inquired if two months was a reasonable length of time for a constituent to wait before a response from Mitchell." On April 30, at a Liberal function in Lucknow, Mitchell said she was aware of the group's concerns and has had talks with Suncor about doing further testing to find a solution to the problem. Mitchell has not been out to the any of the victims' homes. When wind developers meet with the MOE, the Health unit or government officials there are no victim representatives at the table as part of the solution process. There are many other victims in Ontario. Recently a Victim of Wind support group has been created at This was set up by Wind Concerns Ontario, a group of regular Ontario citizens concerned with protecting rural Ontario for future generations ( "Some of us have farms and livestock and that's our living, some have made rural Ontario their home and some of us came here to retire. Basically we just want our way of life back." said Wylds. "Look at the quality of our lives. We have the right to have the safe and healthy home environment we had before November 2007," said Sandy MacLeod.
Additional Data
Wind Company Name: Acciona and Suncor
Project Name: Ripley industrial wind turbine project

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