July 26, 2012
By WES KELLER
In the face of calls for a moratorium on wind turbines pending the outcome of Health Canada’s study of alleged human health issues, Quebec has announced a fourth call for tenders for the commissioning of a new 700-megawatt wind energy block.
Meanwhile, the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) says the federal health study is unwarranted “because the balance of scientific and medical evidence to date clearly concludes that sound from wind turbines does not adversely impact human health.”
CanWEA says Québec Premier Jean Charest has reaffirmed “his government’s commitment to renewable energy by seeking to attain the 4,000-MW objective set in its 2006-2015 energy strategy.”
“The vast majority of Canadians choose wind energy as a top source for clean and safe new electricity,” CanWEA said in a news release on the health issues. “When discussing an issue as important as our energy future we must look at the facts.
“It is clear that the balance of research and experience to date – including hundreds of thousands of people living and working near wind turbines in 89 countries around the world – concludes that wind energy does not adversely impact human health,” said Chris Forrest, vice-president of Communications.
It cites reports by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, the National Public Health Institute in Quebec, and most recently by an expert panel report to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Department of the Environment, as evidence of no health impacts.
“An Oracle Research poll conducted this year found that 78 per cent of Ontarians believe that wind energy is one of the safest forms of electricity generation. According to Dr.
Robert Oliphant, President and CEO of the Asthma Society of Canada, ‘In all forms, renewable energy is a safe and healthy alternative to fossil fuels’.”
But critics, such as the Melancthon residents opposing a Dufferin Wind Power (DWP) project, remain unconvinced of the reliability of studies to date.
At a Horning’s Mills information session Tuesday, a DWP panelist was chided for citing only positive findings of studies on turbines and health. His response was that the studies he had named had already reviewed the published negative materials.
There, the main thrust of questions on health could be expressed as, “if turbines don’t affect health, why are people getting sick after they are in operation?”
Jeff Hammond of DWP reiterated that causation hadn’t been proven. He said DWP “has to build a safe wind farm. We’ll follow the rules.”
Apart from health, there was an accusation that DWP wants to buy the former CP Rail corridor, and that it has an agreement with The Highland Companies.
Both allegations were denied. DWP, said Mr. Hammond, is simply negotiating an easement beside the rail bed. He said there has been no corporate contact with Highland.
Someone asked why the county is taking over the Melancthon landfill. Mayor Bill Hill, who was in the audience, was called on to respond that the county is not taking over any dumps but merely the collection of waste. He said he had no idea where the allegation had originated.
What happens when a turbine catches fire? Other than using the automatic internal extinguishers, you just let it burn itself out.
A frequently asked question centres on decommissioning at the end of the 20-year contract.
The meeting was told that if decommissioning should occur, the turbines, towers and some underground cables would be removed and the base cut away below grade. This would all be funded through securities DWP is posting.
But Mr. Hammond said it is more likely that the turbines would be replaced with newer, more efficient ones, and the contract renewed.