Australians, victims of Wind Turbine Syndrome, abandoning their homes

May 2, 2012

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“The vibration through the wooden floors and intrusive noise inside our house drive me mad sometimes.”  Wind industry says it’s hysteria caused by the “irresponsible” Dr. Laurie.
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“Wind farms fan health fears”

The Border Watch (5/1/12)

Penetrating migraines, sheer exhaustion due to a lack of sleep, a loss of balance and hypersensitivity to noise are some of the health problems residents in the picturesque hills of Cape Bridgewater are claiming the wind turbines on their doorsteps are causing.

Several households near the 29-turbine development have abandoned or are considering abandoning their homes.

Their message to residents opposing any wind farms, including Allendale East and the Woakwine Ridge, is clear: “You have reason to be worried. The wind turbines will impact on everyone living there and they destroy communities from pre-construction to commencement of operation and thereafter.”

Wind farm developers across Australia have consistently denied claims that wind turbines could cause health problems.

Tired of their claims being ignored and snubbed by wind farm developer Pacific Hydro, the Glenelg Shire Council, the State Planning Department and some members of the public, Cape Bridgewater residents Brian Kermond, Sonia Trist and Melyssa Ware have decided to speak out.

In an interview with The Border Watch, the three residents said their families had suffered enough.

In the lead up to 2008, before the turbines started turning, Mr Kermond was employed full-time in the construction process of the wind farm.

“If we only knew what we do now,” he said.

As soon as the 18 turbines—the closest 1.5km from his home—started spinning, he said life started to change inside his peaceful family stone home.

“From the day the turbines were switched on, our outside dog started scratching frantically on the doors and windows,” Mr Kermond said.

“He never bothered coming into the house, so this seemed strange and out of character.

“He lost muscle tone and seemed stressed and depressed and continually scratched at his ears until they bled.

Several visits to various veterinarians and blood tests were inconclusive until the dog eventually died in Mr Kermond’s arms.

Meanwhile, Mr Kermond and his family started to display unusual symptoms which they had never experienced before—difficulty sleeping, headaches, exhaustion, nausea, heart palpitations, confusion, speech problems, vertigo, pressure inside the ears and a lack of concentration.

By 2009, the symptoms had become so unbearable that the Kermonds made the difficult decision to abandon their beloved family home and move away.

“All we’re asking is that the turbines be switched off so we can move back into our home to resume our family life,” Mr Kermond said.

They were not the only ones who were displaying symptoms.

Ms Ware and Ms Trist and their families were plagued with health issues and are now also seriously considering abandoning their homes.

“The vibration through the wooden floors and intrusive noise inside our house drive me mad sometimes—at times my hearing is so affected that I can’t even bear the sound of ripping paper,” Ms Ware said.

“I’m concerned about long-term health effects and no one is prepared to scientifically or medically review what we’re experiencing here.

“I’m concerned that more turbines will be built close to people, and more people will become sick.

“Government departments, local council and health advisors have not responded to my questions and concerns in a way that reassures me.

“There are no policies in place to deal with complaints or concerns about the wind farm—the whole situation gets buried or ignored.”

Ms Trist lives with the nearest turbine about 620 metres from her home.

“I get so tired of experiencing and relating the problems,” she said.

“The fact is we get poor quality sleep and that creates many more problems—we insist that independent full spectrum noise and vibration surveys and analyses be done inside and outside our homes.”

At a recent forum in Mount Gambier chaired by senators Nick Xenophon and John Madigan, direction and assistance was offered to people dealing with wind turbine issues.

Meanwhile, the Legislative Council has agreed to a Liberal move for a multi-party investigation into the social, health and economic impacts of the burgeoning wind power industry in South Australia.

The Legislative Council Committee will investigate separation distances between wind turbines and homes, the social, health and economic impacts of wind generators and the need for a peer-reviewed, independent academic study into their effects.
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Lane Crockett

Editor’s note:  The following testimony was given by Lane Crockett of Pacific Hydro before the Australia Federal Senate:

In relation to possible health impacts of wind farms, while we recognise some people who are clearly distressed, Pacific Hydro relies on advice from reputable health bodies both in Australia and overseas. The consistent finding is there is no credible or peer reviewed evidence that wind farms can cause direct health problems. But we do take the claims of possible health effects very seriously. To better inform communities and ourselves, we have gone out and measured infrasound emissions from two of our wind farms as well as from other natural sources. The measurements show that the measured levels of infrasound are higher at the beach, they are higher in the city and they are higher near a gas-fired power station than from our wind farms.

Earlier I touched on the relationship that Pacific Hydro has with communities around its wind farms. What we note is a significant change in attitude towards wind farms since claims have been made about health problems. I refer to the statements made by the medical director of the Waubra Foundation, Dr Laurie, that if you live five or up to 10 kilometres from a wind farm you will likely become ill and you should wear a heart monitor. Dr Laurie recently advised the community of Portland that there is a link between early morning high blood pressure, heart attacks and the turbines at wind farms. Since these claims were made, Pacific Hydro has received several calls from worried residents nearby our wind farm asking if they are likely to become ill. We note that in recent community consultations a number of residents showed considerable anxiety about a wind farm being built in their area. The anxiety was so acute that it was difficult to have a rational discussion about the proposed wind farm. In our opinion, Dr Laurie’s actions are irresponsible and create unnecessary fear and anxiety in communities.”

  1. Comment by Dr. Paul Mackey on 05/03/2012 at 3:45 am

    It would have been more credible if Mr. Crockett had quoted quantitatively the measurements his company had made, then his claims could be independently verified.

    Editor’s note: Experience shows that when wind companies do “noise” measurements, they do them wrong. We suspect, deliberately wrong. Do a “search” function on our site for Rick James (noise engineer) and Robert Rand (noise engineer). Both of them have done wind turbine noise measurements which show exceedingly high Sound Pressure Levels in the infrasound range. Rapidly pulsed (with high peaks and valleys) Sound Pressure Levels. Ocean waves don’t do this. Nor do the other natural or urban sources that were measured by Pacific Hydro. (R. James teamed up with Wade Bray to do thorough and appropriate sound measurements. R. Rand teamed up with Stephen Ambrose to produce their sound study in Falmouth, Massachusetts.)

    The other thing is, wind companies typically use an “A” filter on their noise meters. “A” filters are designed to exclude infrasound. A-weighted sound measurements detect only what the human ear can perceptibly “hear.”

  2. Comment by Flatroofer on 05/03/2012 at 6:23 am

    Why don’t the owners of these wind farms live near them for 2 years? That should settle the argument on health grounds. They are still a waste of money, though.

  3. Comment by Dr Sarah Laurie on 05/03/2012 at 9:38 am

    Dear Calvin,

    Thank you for publicising the plight of these courageous and resilient Cape Bridgewater residents, who have been so appallingly treated in their own community. Keppel Prince is a major employer in the town of Portland nearby, with close links to elected officials in the local council, and with the wind industry. So it has been a particularly “inconvenient” truth for many in that community who benefit in some way from the wind industry, to accept that wind turbines sited too close to people’s homes and workplaces can make people sick. Fertile soil for the false accusations of scaremongering causing the symptoms of “wind turbine syndrome” to flourish, which has resulted in these sick people being blamed for their symptoms, or disbelieved, thus compounding the trauma for them and their families.

    Those false accusations that “scaremongering” CAUSES the symptoms of wind turbine syndrome have been made by wind developers, their ideological and financial supporters, and their paid experts. These are all well illustrated on the following media links:

    http://www.melbournepressclub.com/quills/2011/best-regional-or-rural-affairs-report-any-medium/cheryl-hall_730-report-abc

    http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/content/2011/s3274758.htm

    For the record, the reports of adverse health events by the residents at Cape Bridgewater to the local council, and Pacific Hydro, predated my awareness of the problems, and my involvement with the Waubra Foundation, which did not start until July 2010.

    Symptoms consistent with what has now been called “wind turbine syndrome” were reported to local doctor David Iser at Toora, elsewhere in Victoria, in 2003, and he alerted the Victorian Health authorities in 2004. Again, well before my involvement with the Waubra foundation in July 2010.

    To this day, the Victorian Health authorities have chosen not to conduct any investigations of their own, despite being repeatedly requested to do so; most recently by the local council near Waubra. The reason given by the then Acting Chief Health Officer of Victoria, Dr Rosemary Lester – “there is no evidence”….according to the NHMRC, who are compiling another review, therefore there Dr Lester states there is no need for a Health Impact Assessment, which would mean the bureaucrats had to come and actually find out what is happening, on the ground….directly from the sick residents and their treating doctors…What is even more extraordinary is that on two separate occasions, officers in her own department have admitted to the Waubra residents that they know there is a problem, both in April 2011, and in October 2011.

    To assert that it is “scaremongering” to publicise information about the serious health problems being reported by the residents living within 10km of wind turbines to their treating doctors is designed specifically by the wind developers such as Pacific Hydro to intimidate the residents and concerned clinicians such as myself from speaking out.

    There is no doubt that residents confronting proposed wind developments do become anxious, especially when they do their homework, find there are indeed peer reviewed studies available which document the problems, but mostly they listen to the stories of fellow rural residents impacted by existing wind developments. What frightens people more is seeing that these people are universally abandoned by public health authorities like the Victorian Department of Health.

    If this was a pharmaceutical, and these same serious adverse health events were being reported, the drug would be removed from the market for further testing. Why is this further research not happening with wind turbines?

    If this was a serious infectious disease, and the responsible authorities refused to investigate, there would be an outcry. What is so different about wind turbines which make them immune from the routine investigation of exposure to toxicological substances or phenomena, where it is consistently observed that people are getting sick?

    Why are the responsible authorities not investigating the noise and vibration pollution which these turbines are emitting? This has been well demonstrated by Steven Ambrose & Rob Rand in Falmouth, and Steven Cooper in Australia. Full sound spectrum, (ie including infrasound and low frequency noise) INSIDE and outside homes, by acousticians truly independent of the wind industry, and accepted by the resident as impartial.

    If you don’t go looking, you won’t find what you would prefer remained hidden – the “collateral damage” of industrial wind developments, so well illustrated in the article above.

  4. Comment by Wanda Allott on 05/27/2012 at 6:04 am

    “”scaremongering “‘ wait until the victims start sueing the landholder the council and the the wind companies,
    then we will see who is scaring whom.
    WDS victim

    PS why else are you putting Dr. Laurie down!

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