“Jenny took enough pills to end her life”: The true story of a Wind Turbine Syndrome victim (Falmouth, MA)

Apr 24, 2012

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Farewell to a Turbine Refugee

Curt Devlin, Fairhaven, MA

I have a friend who is about to become a turbine refugee. I’ll call her Jenny because her peace and privacy have already been violated enough; but I assure you she is very real.

In case you think the term refugee is an exaggeration, look up the definition. It denotes someone who flees their home to avoid danger or to find a place of safety and asylum. If you want to really hear Jenny’s stories with an open heart, ask yourself what could cause you to leave your family, your home and your friends.

Jenny moved to this area over 30 years ago, when she got married and finished school. She dreamed of being an architect; but like so many of us, life had other plans for her. She and her husband ended up buying a home and raising a family. She started a small but successful business, working outdoors with plants and flowers, which she loves. She also grew to love her quiet little, coastal New England town with its cast of quirky but endearing characters, and the peaceful, beautiful vistas of life along the coast.

About nine years ago, Jenny and her husband had a chance to buy a parcel of land in an especially quiet area with plenty of open space between neighbors. Even better, she got the chance to design her own home, one that would fit her and her family’s lifestyle, like hand in glove. Nothing is perfect, but it was a very good home and a good life. As her son grew older, Jenny dreamed that someday he would get married right on this property, at the home she had designed—a summer wedding with enough flowers to remember for a lifetime. That was the dream that was about to turn into a hellish nightmare in just a few short days.

About 2 years ago, one of her neighbors signed a contract with a private wind developer to site a 1.5MW industrial wind turbine just 1300 feet from her beloved home. Jenny was not fearful at first because she did not know that turbines are intensely toxic for some people; nor did she know that she was a “sensitive receptor.” Jenny’s life turned instantly for the worse when the turbine started spinning. The turbine affected her husband, too; but not with same severity as her. It was still just the beginning of a long, steady, irresistible downward spiral to hell.

One sleepless night turned into another. She often awakened with that strange feeling of dizziness that you sometimes get when you are disturbed from a deep sleep, only it didn’t go away after a few minutes. There was the strange feeling of anxiety, too, as though something was terribly wrong but she was unable to put her finger on it. Her energy level sagged from lack of sleep. The strange “thrumming” sensation was all around, like it was inside her head and chest, too. Even when the turbine was not spinning, she was stressed and anxious, wondering when it would start again.

She tried everything to cope, hoping she might gradually get used to it. Noise machines, sleeping pills, nothing seemed to help. She began sleeping in the basement because sometimes the vibrating thrum from the turbine was not quite so bad—sometimes. Naturally, this took its toll on her marriage. The relentless thrum was taking its toll on her business, her health, and her coping mechanisms, as well. Gradually, she began to sink into depression.

As days turned to weeks, and weeks to months, it slowly dawned on Jenny that she was in a fight for her life and stopping the turbine was the only way to win. She tried reasoning with her neighbor, who dismissed her as a crackpot or hypochondriac. After all, it didn’t make him sick. She tried to get help from town officials, but they were too busy putting up turbines of their own to listen to a handful of disgruntled residents. Finally, she tried suing her neighbor. She watched as her rainy-day savings dwindled away. Five, ten, fifteen, then twenty thousand; but the turbine kept spinning. Justice turns much more slowly than turbines. In despair, Jenny began to have what psychiatrists call “suicidal ideation.” In fact, it was much more that ideation. She was stockpiling her sleeping pills.

Ironically, her mother began to suffer from a debilitating illness that prevented her from living alone any longer. Jenny could not go through with her plans just yet. By putting her mother’s needs first, her own daily existence became an agonizing test of endurance. Then, mercifully, the town decided to curtail the operation of all turbines to consider the impact on public health. But his fragile flame of hope was soon snuffed out. After a couple of months of respite, the town decided to restart the turbines, citing the urgent financial needs of the town.

I had hoped that Jenny would not return to her darkest thoughts, but my hopes were in vain. Deciding to give it one last try, she went to a public meeting in town setup to “build consensus” about what to do about the turbines. It is hard to listen to debate about megawatts, decibels, revenue shortfalls and energy costs being discussed as though they are all just as important as your health, your life. People do not understand or simply refuse to believe that your life is hanging in the balance. To many, you are just collateral damage in the war to save the planet.

Just before arriving home, Jenny took enough pills to end her life. Fortunately, she confessed what she had done before she lost consciousness. She wanted to live. Her husband got her to the hospital in time to save her. She is in counseling now and it must be helping because she told me “We need to get the message out to all turbine sufferers. . . . No location is worth dying for.”

But she is left with only one option. Escape. She had been ready to move to the mid-West, where she knows no one; but it was the only place where she could afford a small place to start over on her own. Her funds are nearly exhausted. Her husband felt he could not leave with her because he is just three years from his retirement benefits, the last financial leg they have to stand on. Luckily, his heart overruled his head after rushing her to the hospital the other night. He is cashing in what little benefits he is eligible for, so they can find a small place together where no turbines can be built. They do not expect to get much for their place—assuming they can even sell it.

It is hardly a Hollywood ending. With no money to retire on, the prospect of finding work when you are approaching retirement in a down economy is grim—but it is still better than the alternative ending they had in store. At least they are together, for better or worse.

When people are forced to leave behind everything they have loved and worked for, so hard, in order to save their lives, there is no other word for it—they are refugees. There are thousands in the same situation as Jenny, all around the world. Every day, a few more of them are forced to abandon their homes to save themselves. When we build turbines too close to vulnerable people, we exact a terrible price on our neighbors to ease our own conscience about our energy gluttony.

I am deeply saddened to see my friend leave like this and I’m afraid Jenny will not be the last. Unless something is done to stop the turbines, I’m sure I will be saying farewell to more of my friends in Little Bay soon.

Curt Devlin

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See also, “What the hell’s the matter with you people?” (Massachusetts)“Life under the blades” (Massachusetts)Two Acousticians succumb to Wind Turbine Syndrome (MA), and Woman suffers from Wind Turbine Syndrome from her workplace, not her home (Mass.)

  1. Comment by mtumba djibouti on 04/24/2012 at 12:02 pm

    This is a tragedy that is literally bound to have happened and bound to happen again. Where are the lawyers? Is there not a civil (if not a criminal) case in this? Sue the bastards!

    lawyer

    Editor’s note: But, there was a lawyer! He took $20,000 from the woman, and accomplished nothing but, well, take her last $20,000—the $20,000 she was going to use to flee Falmouth and set up home someplace else. (Yes, she told me that.)

  2. Comment by Marsh Rosenthal on 04/24/2012 at 12:03 pm

    Curt, bless you for your great heart! I’m infuriated with the vaunted “town fathers” who have allowed themselves to be turned into evil androids by the the Big Wind deceivers. They have struck Faustian deals and thrown the very people that they have taken oaths to protect under the bus of “progress”. They have agreed to operate merciless steamrollers over the lives of people who cannot protect themselves in this brutal, selfish, and greedy society. They have settled for the job of being the engineers that drive the trains of cattle cars filled with victims. Monsters!

    bus 2

    I believe a day is coming soon when there will be a reckoning. America is not immune. It happens from time to time, and from place to place. Because windpower kills communities that stand in its path, it will receive a special reckoning.

    As Mark Cool has just said, “The blood is in the water.”

  3. Comment by Karen Bessey Pease on 04/24/2012 at 2:18 pm

    Calvin, Nina, Curt…Jenny—

    Thank you so much for your courage, your tenacity.

    Thank you for giving us all a ‘voice’ in your blog. Thank you for your consistent defense of those who need defending. And Jenny, thank you for trying—over and over again—to bring attention to this issue. You are tucked into my heart and I’m here for you. If there is something I’m able to do to help you, please just say the word.

    We MUST make this right. The wind industry’s power and ability to manipulate governments and the public must come to an end. We cannot back down, because our power is in educating the public. They’ve believed the loudest voices, and the voices that promised wealth. They must hear our voices—which speak of facts, and science, and humanity.

    We’ve got to stand together. Hang tough. No quarter given. No more Americans can be sacrificed. No more Australians, or Scots, or Canadians or New Zealanders. No more women, men, children. We must not allow our health to be wrenched from us, our peace of mind taken away, our quality of life stolen.

    We have a Constitutional right to defend our homes and our families. We have a right to the peaceful and healthful enjoyment of our homes. And we have a right to remove from office those who are ignoring the oaths they swore to when elected, who are no longer safeguarding the people they swore to defend and whose best interests they promised to represent.

    Jenny…my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I’m scared, though—and I need your help and the help of everyone on this planet who knows the facts about industrial wind. Without huge and vocal support, my own homestead and those of my friends and family could soon be ringed by several industrial wind developments—and I’m talking about DOZENS and DOZENS of these machines in almost every direction. Iberdrola Renewables, Independence Wind (of Angus King fame), First Wind, Eolian, Patriot Renewables, Trans-Canada…and more—they have all targeted these mountain ridges, and they assume that those of us in small rural communities won’t have a chance in hell of stopping their wind projects.

    I’m not willing to see my loved ones become victims of wind turbines’ unique noises. From my front porch, I can hear a logging truck as it heads down over the Height of Land, almost 5 miles away as the crow flies. I can hear it as it travels approx. 15 miles down through the canyon until it reaches the Flats in Lexington. That tells me something. If I can clearly hear one tractor engine at that distance, then a half-mile “setback” is not going to protect the people in the western mountains of Maine from the sound emissions of dozens and dozens of industrial wind turbines.

    Maine’s iconic mountain ridges have been sacrificed for this one industry, after we worked together for decades to protect our forests and mountains and waters—those resources which make Maine a special place. But current law supports the development of massive wind facilities in 2/3 of this state. Many people have opposed the sacrifice of our mountain summits—with good reason.

    But what about the sacrifices of health, well-being and quality of life? No one has the right to take those from us.

    I won’t give those up to the wind industry. I may LOSE them in this fight, but I will not give them up.

    Truly, we need a concentrated outcry to protect ourselves and each other. We’ve got to find a way to speak with a united voice. We’ve been the victims of bullying (wind industry-style) and it’s well past time to put them in their place. (For many of them, I believe that “place” has bars on the windows and a very strict [orange] dress code.) :o)

    Thanks to those of you who are standing up to the bullies. Let’s take courage from each other, okay? Let’s NOT BACK DOWN.

    Get well soon, Jenny.

    Hugs,

    Kaz

    Uncle Sam

  4. Comment by Greg Schmalz on 04/24/2012 at 6:07 pm

    I am sending your story to Ken Lewenza, president of the Canadian counterpart to the United Auto Workers. He has erected a 35-story turbine in our resort neighbourhood on the grounds of their $70 M resort hotel and conference centre, against elected officials’ and residents’ protests. It is set to start in 3 weeks. It’s the symbol of union support for the provincial government’s green energy fallicy. 60 families live within 1800 feet. 4,000 people live within 6,600 ft, which is our town’s safety setback policy. 10 families have left homes 15 miles away in several large turbine developments.

    Thank you for inspiring us to keep fighting. God bless.

    Greg Schmalz
    S.T.O.P. (Saugeen Shores Turbine Operation Policy)

    Lewenza
    Canadian Auto Worker’s Ken Lewenza

  5. Comment by Johannes Karl Marciniak on 04/24/2012 at 8:42 pm

    TOTAL BAN IS THE ONLY REASONABLE WAY TO GO.
    THERE IS NOTHING GREEN OR GOOD ABOUT WIND TURBINES.
    SOMEHOW WE NEED TO HANG IN THERE WITH LOTS OF LOVE AND HOPE.

  6. Comment by Dr Sarah Laurie on 04/25/2012 at 7:23 am

    Dear All,

    Sadly, I am not surprised by this story – in Australia, people have been similarly seriously mentally and physically unwell, desperate and unheard by the health and noise regulatory authorities who are failing in their legal duty of care by refusing to even investigate or measure the full sound spectrum, inside homes, let alone document the serious new mental and physical illnesses, let alone noticeable exacerbations of existing conditions, which people living near turbines have been reporting to their treating doctors and local health authorities for years.

    But there is HOPE for those who have been so appallingly treated, for so long.

    For anyone in similarly desperate circumstances, they need to understand that survival and self preservation is the most important thing, and if they can somehow get right away from the operating wind turbines, even if only for short periods of time, and get the health care they need, especially if depression is involved, it will help them start to get better. Then they can fight more effectively, if they want to.

    To leave one’s home in such circumstances is not “defeat” or “giving up”, it is a conscious act of self preservation, a deliberate choice to help regain their health. Reducing exposure to infrasound and low frequency noise (ILFN) has been shown time and time again by practical experience to be the only thing which consistently helps people to regain their health. This happens when the turbines are off, or when people remove themselves from the vicinity of operating wind turbines, and from other sources of ILFN.

    Thanks to the information provided by affected residents, and the work by the increasing number of acousticians, clinicians and researchers working in this area, we now collectively have a much better idea of what we think is going on acoustically and clinically for people affected by the wind turbines.

    In a nutshell, it is becoming clear that it is the sound frequencies between 0 – 200Hz being emitted by the wind turbines which are directly causing these health problems, which worsen with cumulative exposure. Some of us believe that the reason this is occurring is because of the known and documented link between ILFN and chronic physiological stress, (this stress is being observed in animals as well as humans, and has been documented in some experiments for many years – see NIEHS 2001 publication on Toxicology of infrasound, and the Leventhall, Benton and Pelmear report on Low Frequency noise for the UK’s DEFRA from 2003).

    FOR THOSE WHO ARE AFFECTED:
    Keeping detailed personal health journals of what is happening to you and your family AT THE TIME IT IS HAPPENING is the start of educating yourselves and your health practitioners. It is also collecting evidence which can be used in future legal action against the developers and the turbine hosts, if that is what you choose to do in future. Ensuring that your health care providers are very aware of all your symptoms and the pattern of their occurrence with exposure to operating wind turbines is very important.

    Many health practitioners are not aware of what IS already known, and do not have lots of time to investigate themselves, so their patients can play a vital role in helping to educate these clinicians by both providing relevant information directly to their doctors, but also ensuring their doctors know about their specific symptoms, and the pattern of their occurrence, which correlates so closely to operating wind turbines, and in some circumstances ILFN from other sources (eg substations, other large compressors). The reported symptoms need to be fully documented by the clinicians, and health problems investigated. This is not only good thorough clinical care, but again will be vital legal evidence of documented harm to health and wellbeing, where that is occurring.

    For those who can afford to do so, collection of acoustic evidence by independent acousticians which measures the full acoustic sound and vibration spectrum the residents are exposed to across a range of weather and wind conditions, INSIDE and OUTSIDE homes concurrently, preferably with a detailed diary of symptoms at the time the monitoring is being conducted, will also be invaluable.

    The aim of documents such as the Personal Health Journals and the Suggested Health Guidelines is to assist both residents and their treating doctors to understand more about what is known, what to investigate, and what might be useful to document in the medical records.

    Such information and legal evidence has been “successful” in the past, in that the developers have chosen to “settle” (albeit with binding confidentiality clauses) rather than continue on with high profile court cases, such as Julian and Jane Davis in the UK High Court, which was settled by the wind developer in December 2011. Acoustic and clinical evidence have played a crucial role in cases such as these. The fact that they have been “settled” rather than thrown out of court, and that the developers have insisted on binding confidentiality clauses would infer that the developers are well aware of the problems and are very concerned about opening the “floodgates” of litigation.

    At the same time, the Waubra Foundation strongly suggests that residents lobby their relevant noise regulatory authorities and politicians to demand that there is immediate investigation of what is essentially NOISE POLLUTION at the homes of affected residents, with:

    FULL ACOUSTIC SPECTRUM (ie including Infrasound and Low frequency noise)
    INSIDE AND OUTSIDE MEASUREMENTS CONCURRENTLY
    performed by acousticians who are INDEPENDENT of the wind industry, and who are trusted by the residents, who have the necessary specialised acoustic monitors and microphones to measure the 0 – 200 Hz frequencies.
    Such results must be made fully available to the impacted residents themselves.

    At the moment, all that most regulatory guidelines measure is in dBA (ie 200Hz and above) OUTSIDE THE HOME, which bears no relationship to the symptoms and problems people are experiencing. It is rare that such data is ever made available to affected residents in Australia, and I suspect this is also the case internationally. The acoustic study by Rob Rand and Steven Ambrose at Falmouth, and work done by Steven Cooper in Australia, is confirming that the acoustic energy inside homes is coming from the wind turbines, and is correlating with people’s symptoms.

  7. Comment by Cathy Coffey (Fairhaven, MA) on 04/25/2012 at 6:00 pm

    Hello, This is such a heartfelt story. This is indeed going on in our little Town of Fairhaven, MA. Curt could not have written a better story. With these turbines, even if just one person is sick, one is too many. As Curt said, names have been changed, but we all know of friends and neighbors that will be affected by these monsters.

    We all need to stick together and get out and fight. We will not win if we step back. We need to get our strong support back that we had months ago.

    May God help us that these things don’t even get going.

    Cathy Coffey

    David

  8. Comment by Lisa Plante on 04/25/2012 at 9:08 pm

    I sit here after reading Curt’s story, with tears in my eyes. How can our towns disregard the health of their residents? This is more than frustrating; it truly is a matter of life and death to some who have become ill.

    May God have mercy on all of us.

    woman3

  9. Comment by Agnes on 04/27/2012 at 2:10 am

    Thank you, I am affirmed in what I always sensed. I am from “the city” in Ontario Canada. I drive out often to get away from the noise and electromagnetic disturbances here that sicken me terribly. Driving by the miles of wind farms, I am horrified by what I see and feel. I feel that anxiety, that uneasiness, that mental instability. Sometimes I take a pill—anti-anxiety medication—to calm down.

    I thought it was just my personal reaction to the sight of these god-awful things, to the sight of obvious greed, and to the realisation that there is almost nowhere to run from the noise and electromagnetic disturbance. Now I know what I have suspected about these things since I first approached one and felt immediately anxious and ill in the 1990’s.

    To Jenny and to all of those sensitive enough to suffer, my heart is with you and so is my support. I have wanted to purchase property away from the city for years and have not been able to afford to, but have always been looking, anyway. I know now not to move near the turbines; they stretch on for miles.

    Here in the city, I live by a major airport (and dizzy and sick a lot due to it) and to radio towers and other problematic contraptions. Believe me when I say, it is not just those in the small towns or country who feel they are helpless against these horrors.

    If I cannot tear down the radio towers looming outside of my windows, I will help tear down those turbines. No compromise.

    woman sorrow

  10. Comment by Brenda Salseg on 04/28/2012 at 9:30 am

    Dear Jenny,

    Please don’t come to Wisconsin as you search to start over in the midwest. In western Wisconsin, just due east of Minnneapolis/St. Paul, MN, a wind developer is trying to force a 102.5 MW project on our small rural community. We stopped it on a local level; however the developer simply added more turbines and took the project to the state for permitting. Many more wind projects exist in southern and eastern Wisconsin. Many more suffer, but we continue to fight.

    Don’t try Minnesota, either. There, in Goodhue County, a wind development company fronting T. Boone Pickens is trying to force a wind project on another unwilling community.

    In Illinois, it appears many rural residents have been affected by wind turbines, especially in DeKalb. One such family kept an online diary of their unrelenting adverse health experiences. We hear they were bought out, likely with a gag order—and the online diary has disappeared from the Internet.

    Michigan? They are fighting, too, in many beautiful rural areas.

    Thank you, Curt, for the article. Thank you, Jenny, for not ending your life. Thank you to everyone fighting this land-grabbing scam, investment bubble, and constitutional rights attack.

    midwest

  11. Comment by Curt Devlin on 05/01/2012 at 7:50 pm

    I just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone for their kind words and warm wishes for Jenny. I have forwarded many of your thoughtful comments and well-wishes to her by email in the hope that she will appreciate just how much her courage in sharing her story has meant to so many.

    My very best to all of you. Know that you are not alone in this struggle.

    –Curt

  12. Comment by Paul Kay on 05/02/2012 at 6:59 am

    Thanks for sharing this disturbing story.

    Some things are badly wrong about the wind energy “conversation”:

    – the principle of prudent avoidance is ignored;

    – the onus seems to be on victims and potential victims to demonstrate a causal link between the presence of turbines and ill effectes;

    – wind turbines are the ONLY source of electrical energy that does not incorporate a bulk storage mechanism: hydro, coal, nuclear, geothermal, even your little petrol generator have a means of storing energy until it is required. To my mind, this is the elephant in the wind energy’s living room. A lack of storage means the energy must be used when it is produced; this requires a large interconnected grid, with all the inefficiencies that go along with it. Even then, energy must be dumped sometimes, and backup is required so that the lights stay on when it’s not windy.

    If wind energy made a difference to our energy problems, the choice between destroying some communities for the greater good may be more difficult: but as it is, there is no greater good served by wind turbines, only a greater greed. There is no reason to put them anywhere. History will judge us harshly for this dalliance with these useless behemoths.

    I wish Jenny and her family success and happiness in their new home.

    PS – even if there was a mega-battery that we could connect to wind turbines, thereby elevating their utility to something comparable with other forms of electricity generation (in that an “on-demand” capability would be provided), we STILL wouldn’t need them near communities – they could be subject to the same siting regulations and expectations as any other form of power station: the storage capacity and generation capacity could be balanced to suit demand and the available wind resource at acceptable locations. But, because at present big wind wants society to buy half a solution to a perceived problem, that won’t work.

    Kind Regards,

    Paul

  13. Comment by Carolyn Kiesz on 05/06/2012 at 3:47 pm

    Hello,

    I found the article about Jenny to be heartbreaking. I cannot imagine those ugly monoliths so close to homes. I’ve studied the wind energy debacle for over 3 years now and I have read about all the physical maladies. Of course, the government/public officials only believe it when it comes out of the mouths of the wind developers. WE know it is true. Jenny will be vindicated one day! Until that day, she just has to do whatever is needed to stay well.

    I have been fighting a wind farm for over 3 years, without the assistance of an attorney. I lost, of course. I am not giving up, although they will begin erecting the turbines in the next two months.

    We have our farm for sale, but we don’t hold out much hope of any buyer. It breaks my heart that my scenic rural lifestyle will be devastated, soon. No one in my area really cares—they are apathetic or GREEDY—don’t care or will be getting lease money.

    I will NEVER stop fighting the FRAUD of large-scale industrial wind energy. NEVER!

    Warm regards,

    Carolyn
    Out on the Palouse of Eastern, WA
    fighting wind with TRUTH!

  14. Comment by Barb on 05/26/2012 at 1:59 pm

    To all who care for turbine-free existence;
    We have been searching here in south-western Ontario, Canada for over 4 years now, for our little piece of rural property. Many possibilities have presented themselves, but alas, upon doing our due diligence, we discover that there is NO-where safe to live away from these projected bohemoths. Our dream has faded, for now…
    But..there may be a solution! Turbine companies need land…land is often provided at nominal lease rates by landowners. SUE, yes I mean a lawsuit,..sue the landowners for loss of enjoyment of your property, and for your ensuing health issues, and costs of living elsewhere while you resolve this, etc.. If enough farmers and landowners were afraid of the pending lawsuits, they might think twice before signing those tempting lease arrangements. No land=no turbines! After all, eventually their land becomes de-valued also, as many neighbours have to sell out at rock bottom prices to move into the city to escape these advancing turbines. We have learned that here in Ontario, many larger landowners don’t even live on their rural acreages…they themselves live in towns and nearby cities, and rent out the houses on their rural properties to unsuspecting tenants. Then, when tenants leave, the landowner severs and sells the house and an acre or two of land to unsuspecting victims. Gradually these properties de-value, as new purchasers become more difficult to find. A property tax revolt should soon be in the offing too. Who will be willing to continue paying the present level of taxation on their properties, as they are constantly being de-valued? Organize, Sue, and Revolt!!
    signed:
    An Urban supporter of Stop the Wind!!!
    Barb
    Best of luck to Jenny and her family. My thoughts and support are with them.

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