The Waubra Foundation (Australia)

Feb 6, 2011

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“Researching the health effects of wind turbines close to human habitation”
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Objectives

I. Gather, investigate and review complaints of health problems that have been perceived by the complainants as being associated with living or working close to wind turbines or such other industrial sources that may be considered as relevant.

II. Continue to gather additional information from existing and new wind projects or other sources as it becomes available.

III. Build the existing and new data into a high quality data base suitable as a start point for properly constructed studies and review by qualified others.

IV. Use the data to engage in co-operative studies with independent researchers both in Australia and internationally.

V. On the basis of data gathered plus local, overseas and co-operative studies, provide relevant and independent advice to communities, the public at large and local, state and federal governments and to the wind turbine industry and other relevant organisations.

VI. Promote research into the effects and causes of illnesses that may be associated with living or working close to wind turbines and other relevant sources.

VII. Make the results of such research widely available, to members of the public, health professionals, and other interested parties.

VIII. Facilitate the establishment of individual networks of relevant specialities of medical practitioners and other health practitioners to enable the rapid sharing of information and expertise in the diagnosis, management and treatment of patients with symptoms of wind turbine syndrome

IX. Provide such advice and assistance as can be given to individuals and communities who believe that their health is or may be impacted by adjacent wind turbines or other sources.

X. Assemble the necessary resources to carry out the objectives.

XI. Raise such funds as may be possible to assist in the work of the Foundation.

XII. At all times to establish and maintain complete independence from government, industry and advocacy groups for or against wind turbines.

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Medical Director

Sarah Laurie, MD, Medical Director

Dr Sarah Laurie graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery from School of Medicine, Flinders University (Australia) in 1995 as a mature age student, and after doing three years of postgraduate training was awarded her Fellowship of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) in 1999, and her Fellowship of the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine.

As a result of her performance in the RACGP examinations, she was invited to become an examiner for the College in their examinations, and did so.

She worked for 5 years as a General Practitioner (GP) in the rural towns of Balaklava and Crystal Brook in the Mid-North of South Australia, as well as some locum tenens working for Nganampa Health Council in the Far North of South Australia.

Having lived and worked in rural and remote communities in Australia for most of the last 25 years (except when studying medicine in Adelaide & some of her postgraduate training), she is fully aware of the challenges rural & remote communities face.

She covered the full range of work required by a rural General Practitioner, often working 80 to 100-hour weeks, providing a one in two or three 24-hour emergency service, and country hospital inpatient care in addition to routine clinical consulting work during the day.

She developed particular interest and expertise in the provision of primary mental health care, working closely in conjunction with a visiting psychiatrist, Dr Theresa Lim.

She was the Mid-North Division of General Practice representative on the regional Mental Health Advisory Committee and, together with other GP’s, helped to set up the Mid-North Rape and Sexual Assault Service.

She was also asked to be a Councillor on the Australian Medical Association State Committee, and did so between 2000 & 2001.

After several successful years of practising as a trusted and approachable GP in Crystal Brook, Dr Sarah was unexpectedly diagnosed with a serious medical condition, requiring urgent surgery. Following that, she and her husband were delighted to become parents of twins, and family and carer responsibilities have taken up her time since this.

She was in the process of returning to work clinically as a rural General Practitioner when she became aware that a wind energy project was proposed for the hills hear her home in Beetaloo Valley, South Australia. Dr Sarah has always been concerned with climate change and the environment, and she supports renewable energy.  She was initially very supportive of the local project, as she was unaware of any health concerns.

It wasn’t until a neighbour alerted her to Dr Amanda Harry’s study of health issues with wind factories, that Dr Sarah realised there were some potentially serious health problems associated with wind turbines.

She decided to look into the area fully, and became aware that despite the health problems being described around the world, there was a lack of research, and hence an urgent need for more research into this problem.

As a result of her interest, she was approached to help set up the Waubra Foundation as a national organisation.

She has dedicated her time voluntarily to this since July 18, 2010.  The Foundation does not receive funding from corporations or businesses or government or private agencies of any sort.  All its financial support comes from small donations from affected homeowners and from Dr. Sarah’s own pocket.  Hence, the Foundation is run on a shoe-string and a prayer.

Dr Sarah attended the recent international symposium on wind energy and health in Ontario, Canada, in October 2010, and was able to meet with the key medical researchers around the world currently working in the area.  People such as Drs Nina Pierpont, Chris Hanning, Michael Nissenbaum, Robert McMurtry, & Noel Kerin, and other researchers and acousticians such as Professors Arline Bronzaft and John Harrison; Mr Rick James and Dr Alec Salt.

Dr Sarah is now in regular contact with these researchers and others, helping to plan national and international cooperative research initiatives.

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Contact

Sarah Laurie, MD, Medical Director
Waubra Foundation
PO Box 1136
South Melbourne, Victoria 3205
Australia

Phone 0439 865 914
Office 08 8636 2051
Email sarah@waubrafoundation.com.au

  1. Comment by Clinton Reeder, PhD (Economics & Business) on 04/14/2011 at 10:19 am

    I am impressed with your efforts. Our county (Umatiilla) in Oregon, USA is experiencing many of the same conditions and experiences described in your recent paper submitted to the Australian Federal Senate Inquiry on Rural Wind Farms. Our county is now wrestiling with amending our Wind Development Ordinance, with a focus on revising setbacks between wind towers and home, cities, roads, etc. I have assembled over 1,200 pages of material now, organized in 18 separate categories, for consideration by our local planning authoriities. I intend to personally buy multiple copies of Dr. Nina Pierpont’s book for selective distribution, includine our state wind turbine siting council. My efforts are voluntary. My intentions are to foster a meaningful resolution of as many pertinent issues as possible, considering the conditions and circumstances surrounding the multi-faceted conflicts associatee with the current status of wind power development and resaerch arouond the world, and of course, more specifically in our local community. I have invested most of my professional career in such endeavors, and am confident that is the wind power developers were more willing, communities could have a much more productive development experience, with far less conflict — but only if the community itself takes more responsibility for the outcome, gets better informed earlier, forces more information sharing into the public arena.and develops public policy much more open to public review and early comment. Current proceedings of the overall development process for wind power are simply not consistent with good, productive public utility economic and social theory. And the confidentiality provisions of turbine site contracts and noise easements (“waivers”) absolutley not in the public interest — in fact, quite the contrary!

    Please let me know if furhter contact might interest you, as we move along with our current efforts. I used to be a University Extention Specialist, and have some ideas how the process of changing the :Rules of the Game” might be addressed. Local communities MUST develop means of empowering themsleves, including better understaniding the legal aspects — the actual legal status of the confidentiality provisions, for example, in light of public utility managerment and regulatory theory and practice.

    Best wishes,

  2. Comment by Paul Fauth (Australia) on 07/25/2011 at 7:29 am

    I find it fascinating that if you oppose a “green energy” solution, somehow you are a political activist.

    I hold a Doctorate in Agricultural Science, a B.Sc. (Hons Comp Sci), B.Sc. (Ag), B.Sc. (Ag Ec). I had to move from my cattle property after a wind farm appeared. At first I found myself to be sluggish with a feeling of being perpetually hungover. This then moved to a feeling of a “background” perpetual headache and then onto outright migraines.

    I moved to another property I have in Dalby Queensland, and all symptoms dissipated, until I found that the bores on my property had been polluted by “fracking” chemicals used in the release of “natural” gas from coal seams. The nearest “fracking” facility was 18 kilometres from my property. Strangely, the opposition to my claims was identical to the questioning of the side effects of wind turbines.

    I am a believer in climate change and the need to move to alternate energy sources; however, it scares me that natural gas and wind-farm power seem to be Holy Grail that must not be questioned.

    For God’s sake, people’s lives and their quality of life is at stake here! I hear Bob Brown perpetuating the myth of “electric cars.” Where does the power come from to recharge these cars? Where are the battery disposal systems? (Toyota Prius shows that at approximately 100,000 kms they need a new $6000 battery.)

    Please, let us stand back, examine the alternative energy sources, the outcomes to adopting these sources, and not just mouth mealy words that sound good in a sound grab.

    Apparently my beef cattle leak “enormous quantities” of methane, according to a Greens senator. Stagnant ponds which could be cleaned up get no mention, however. Should I fit fart filters to my cattle?

    Dr Laurie, please continue your work! You are a lone voice of sanity in the madness of political correctness!

  3. Comment by suzanne edge (Australia) on 07/25/2011 at 8:26 am

    I have 2 loud air conditioners near me, since 2001. I managed to reduce one a bit by installing some insulation on my fence, but I have never really been ok with this type of noise. The later one just recently, it has an uneven pulsating hum! hum! I cannot tolerate this noise.

    I get similar syptoms to wind turbine victims. Headaches, nausea, tinnitus, can’t sleep. The South Australia EPA have been difficult to deal with.

    I may have to move as it affects my health too much. I feel I have reached an intolerance with these noises, as I have lived near them over many years.

    Who can I see here in Adelaide, as no-one understands how I feel? My General Practitioner is understanding, but I feel I need someone who works in this field, specifically.

    Editor’s reply: We often hear from people in your situation—living near large air conditioners or other large compressors. Yes, they get symptoms identical to Wind Turbine Syndrome. It’s the infrasound & low frequency noise (ILFN) affecting your vestibular organs. Chiefly the vestibular organs, which are in the inner ear, of course. However, ILFN affects other organs of balance and motion and position “sense,” as well. If the ILFN is sufficiently prolonged and powerful, it appears that it can create Vibro-Acoustic Disease (VAD), which has been intensively studies and documented by a Portuguese research group.

    By the way, you don’t “get used to” this ILFN. Just the opposite; you become increasingly sensitized to it.

    Dr. Pierpont explains all this in her book, “Wind Turbine Syndrome.” You need to read that book, if you have not. Then you need to find a physician (actually, a neuro-otologist) and show him/her Pierpont’s book, and ask him to correspond with Dr. Pierpont.

    We are sorry this is happening to you. Wind Turbine Syndrome is really nothing more than a subset of ILFN Syndrome, which, itself, is huge.

  4. Comment by Patricia (Australia) on 07/26/2011 at 8:19 am

    Dear Dr Laurie,

    I suffer from Menieres syndrome and, over 20 years ago, I was driving around U bends on the Blue Mountains, and suddenly became completely disorientated and had to stop and hand over the driving to my son. I was shaking uncontrollably. Not long afterwards, I was having funny episodes as my knees would suddenly drop. The doctor thought it was blood pressure changes, and investigated.

    Then the truth was known, when I got a full-blown attack with uncontrollable dizziness and nausea that an injection partly corrected. When I related the Blue Mountain episode to my doctor he said it was classic inner ear problems. The Ear, Nose, Throat specialist (otolaryngologist) suggested that a virus or cold could irritate the condition, as could sound waves through ear phones, etc? My anxiety was caused because I felt no obvious symptoms but my inner ear was playing up, and my brain was reacting, too.

    The symptoms that seem to be shared not only on the Four Corners program on 25th July, have also been reported in Canada. Now when I find my ears seem filled up with fluid or I get a bit of dizziness, I attribute it to inner ear imbalances often caused by a build-up of fluid in the inner ear, and I correct it by holding my nose and blowing like one does when descending in a plane until my ears pop.

    Could people, without knowing they have a tendency to inner ear problems, be reacting to the low frequency sounds coming from the wind farms? Because the symptoms they describe are very similar to inner ear disturbances I suffer? There is a good site you most probably know of: if you Google “wind concern Ontario,” there is an extensive health report there. Again, they feel their symptoms described have to do with the ears and auditory
    system.

    Best of luck with your research and well done the ABC (Australian Broadcasing Corp.) Four Corners program.

    Editor’s reply: Dear Patricia, you really need to read Dr. Pierpont’s book, “Wind Turbine Syndrome.”

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