Pierpont responds to Wind Turbine Syndrome misinformation (Mass.)

Mar 11, 2012


Editor’s note:  The following letter was published by Dr. Pierpont in the Massachusetts newspaper, South Coast Today, responding to a letter written by a Fairhaven, MA, resident named Donald Mulcare, titled  “Pierpont’s wind syndrome study isn’t applicable to Fairhaven” (2/23/12).

“Nope,” replied Pierpont, “you’re wrong, buddy!”

To the editor:

In response to Mr. Donald Mulcare’s letter in this paper on February 23, we need data to support his assertions that (a) there are 15 southern New England communities with active industrial wind turbines, (b) in 14 of these communities there are no health effects or complaints due to the turbines, and (c) Sinovel turbines are somehow different with regard to noise and infrasound generation than the five brands of turbine described in my study or used elsewhere, including New England.

In presuming that Fairhaven citizens will be safe from effects because they will be exposed to only two turbines, Mr. Mulcare dismisses the experience in Falmouth, MA and Vinalhaven, ME, where exposure to 1 to 3 turbines has caused marked health problems.

Be that as it may, I have done Mr. Mulcare’s research for him.

  • It’s not valid to compare 1.5 MW turbines with 100 or 250 or 660 kW turbines (which he must have included to reach his total of 15 installations in southern New England), for the simple reason it’s well documented in the scientific literature that the amount of infrasound produced by wind turbines increases the bigger they are (see Møller and Pedersen, Journal of the American Acoustical Society, 2011, vol. 129, p. 3727-44).
  • The potential for noise disturbance is not related to the brand of turbine, for the simple reason the disturbing pulsations are aerodynamic, spinning off the blades, rather than coming from the machinery of the gears or generator.  It’s an old industry chestnut to assert, “Oh, those noisy old models—we’re not going to use one of them!”  Every wind turbine salesman says this.  But wait—today’s noisy old models were the new quiet ones of 2004 or 2007!  And I wonder why Mr. Mulcare imagines a rock-bottom Chinese turbine manufacturer is going to turn out a better product than the Americans, Danes or Germans?  (Sinovel is currently being sued for stealing wind turbine software from American Superconductor, a Mass. company, and it operates in a country notorious for its massive and systematic indifference to environmental and humanitarian constraints.)

To help Mr. Mulcare with his data, I made a list of the single to triplet wind turbine installations in southern New England (i.e., Massachusetts and Rhode Island, since Connecticut has none) with turbines in the MW range.  All are 1.5 to 1.8 MW per turbine, while the smaller ones (which I ignore for this exercise) are 660 kW or less.  After making the list, I emailed a number of people in New England who know about wind turbines, asking about complaints or problems.  Call it a “grass-roots research strategy.”

Here are the results:

» Hull Wind Turbine II (1.8 MW):  Complaints have been recorded on videotape.

» Ipswich Wind Farm I (1.6 MW):  Complaints have been lodged with the local government.

» Jiminy Peak Wind (1.5 MW):  Complaints have been lodged with the local government, despite the turbine being in a ski area.

» Massachusetts Military Reservation (3 x 1.5 MW):  There are known complaints.

» Mount Wachusett Community College (2 x 1.65):  No complaints known.

» NOTUS Wind I, Falmouth, MA (1.65 MW) and Town of Falmouth Wind I (1.65 MW):  Well-known health effects documented in medical interviews by me on community TV.

» Princeton Wind Farm Project (2 x 1.5 MW):  There are known complaints, despite the turbines being in a ski area.

» Templeton Wind Turbine (1.65 MW):  There are known complaints. The turbine is next to a high school and middle school.

» Town of Portsmouth, RI, Wind Turbine (1.5 MW):  There are known complaints.  The turbine is next to a high school.

» Fall River Philips Wind Turbine (2 MW):  Only up a few weeks; won’t generate till spring.

I count 9 wind turbine installations comparable to the planned pair of 1.5 MW turbines in Fairhaven (not counting Fall River).  Eight out of 9 have known complaints.  Even calling all 9 “comparable” is a stretch, since 2 sets are off on mountaintops, though still within a mile of homes.

Many of the smaller single turbines in Massachusetts have also generated complaints, including those in Barnstable, Bourne, Dennis, Hull, Nantucket (where one turbine broke apart in moderate winds and another has provoked complaints), Newburyport, and Woods Hole.

A far cry from “14 out of 15” being unaffected.  I guess it depends on who you ask.

Mr. Mulcare, who did you ask?  Even if it were just 1 out of 15 affected, as you argue, would that be okay?  What about 1 out of 15 people?  Just roadkill, collateral damage, a few eggs broken while making the omelette?  Since it’s only a small part of the “general population,” you can tolerate that?  Just a few of your neighbors driven out of their homes—but not too many?

Mr. Mulcare, anyone with migraines in your family, or inner ear problems, motion sensitivity, or advanced age?  You say you’ve read the book; these are the proven risk factors.  Every disease on the planet affects some people more than others.  There are, I assure you, susceptible people in your community, too.

What if, Mr. Mulcare—it’s you or your family?

  1. Comment by Mark J. Cool on 03/11/2012 at 7:13 pm

    What has happened to “trust”?

    Ridiculing and discrediting a friend, a neighbor or a professional with credentials, is just another example of jumping on the bandwagon of this flawed energy dream. (Pass another round of fairy dust will ya?)

    Doing so is much easier than doing the rigorous analysis required to press the MA DEP and MA DPH to doing their jobs.

    Regardless of where the reader stands on the issue, we are all in this together, supportive of lowering energy bills, expanding the use of alternative energy and eliminating our dependence on fossil fuels.
    However, SOME PEOPLE demonstrate an ignorance to the ever-evolving HEALTH library and HEALTH answers offered by professionals and residents alike.
    “It is our civic and humane duty, as a NEIGHBOR, to attend to core values of protecting what each of us would instinctually defend—our HEALTH.”

    “Liberty is to the collective body, what health is to every individual body. Without health no pleasure can be tasted by man; without liberty, no happiness can be enjoyed by society” (Henry St. John).

The comments are closed.