Chatham Daily News
September 26, 2011
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Family taking heat over lawsuit
Claiming wind farm is causing health problems
THAMESVILLE — The Michaud family is standing firm in their conviction that wind farms can have a negative impact on human health, despite some backlash they are receiving.
The Thamesville-area family has been the target of much criticism, accusations and insults via social media since going public last Wednesday about launching a $1.5-million lawsuit against Suncor Energy's Kent Breeze Wind Farm, located near their Dew Drop Road home.
The lawsuit claims the Michaud family, which includes Michel, 53, Lisa, 46, and their adult children, Elisha, 25, and Josh, 20, have suffered such symptoms as vertigo, nausea and sleep disruption due to the effects of living near the eight-turbine wind farm.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
The wind farm, the first to be approved under Ontario's Green Energy Act, was also the subject of an Ontario Environmental Review tribunal earlier this year, which ruled in favour of allowing the project to proceed.
Lisa Michaud said many people have the impression "we're these money grabbers going for $1.5 million.
"That's not what it's about," she added.
She said the $1.5 million is a "number to raise awareness so people can understand the government needs to change these regulations and setback laws that they have."
She added the wind turbines are being "planted" in rural residential areas and she believes people are going to get sick.
"We've heard from a number of people who don't believe us, but mostly the ones that have no names on the Internet," Michaud said.
She said some people who have spoken to them directly say they have a family member who doesn't like the turbines.
"But nobody's really ready to come forward . . . look at the flak we're getting," she added.
The family was tired of being sick and they felt nobody wanted to do anything about it.
Michel Michaud said, "we put up with it for a bit, but then after the two kids started getting sick . . . that's the last straw, we got to do something."
The Chatham Daily News spoke with other people in area, including some residents living closer to the turbines, who have not suffered the same health problems as the Michauds.
Alfie Rose, who lives on Dew Drop Road, about a kilometre from the Michauds, said the turbines "don't bother me.
"I'd like to have a couple of them on my place," he added.
Tina Pumfrey's home on Longwoods Road is less than 600 metres from a turbine.
She said she hasn't suffered any ill effects, noting, "occasionally I feel it in my ear, but it's not enough to bug me."
However, she doesn't doubt some people are affected by the turbines, adding her family is lucky they are not.
Pumfrey said if the turbines are pointed in a certain direction, she can hear them through the window.
She added if the window is closed and the ceiling fan is on, it solves the problem.
Her 13-year-old son Tate said, "the cars on Highway 2 (Longwoods Road) are louder than the turbines."
Some other residents on Longwoods Road, who didn't want to be identified, said they can hear the turbines make a "woosh" sound if they are pointed in a certain direction.
However, they say they have not felt any ill health effects from the devices.
One man who spoke with The Daily News doesn't doubt some people's health does suffer due to the turbines.
"Everybody is not the same," he said. "Everybody is going to have a different way of it affecting them."
The Michaud property is just over a kilometre away from the closest turbine.
Michel Michaud said their house is the last property in line with the turbines.
"It's called a tunnel effect, that's what we're getting," he said.
He said Rick James, an acoustician, who did studies on the Kent Breeze project, and gave testimony during the recent environmental review tribunal, said their property would be affected the most.
Michaud said some days the wind turbine noise is loud, but that's not what concerns him most.
"It's what you don't hear, it's the low frequency (sound)," he said is what he believes is causing the problem