WOLFE ISLAND, Ont. (12/11/2010) - Eleven of Wolfe Island's 86 windmills loom behind Keith Walton, who takes a break from plowing his field in the early evening hours of Friday, Nov. 12, 2010. Walton supports the local wind farms, the second largest turbine project in Canada. Although the wind farms have been controversial, the TransAlta project has brought a sizable amount of money to the community and has been embraced by most Wolfe Islanders. Photo by Galit Rodan.
A group of Ontario residents who live near wind turbines claim the turbines have caused health problems. The group spoke up against the Ontario government’s decision to give energy giant Suncor a licence to build an eight-turbine wind power project in the city of Chatham-Kent, Ontario. The group of Chatham-Kent citizens filed an appeal to Ontario’s Environmental Review Tribunal. This marks Canada’s first hearings examining the health effects of wind turbines.
According to the group of citizens, exposure to windmills can cause sleep problems, headaches, dizziness, nausea, exhaustion, anxiety, anger and even depression.
In 2009, the Canadian Wind Energy Association funded a study done by a panel of experts to determine whether windmills cause health problems. According to their report, there is no evidence that sounds emitted by the turbines cause physiological effects, and that the windmill’s vibrations are too weak to be detected by humans. The report claims people’s negative reactions to wind turbines are based on personality, “some may find this sound annoying, a reaction that depends primarily on personal characteristics as opposed to the intensity of the sound level.” Basically, they think people who have issues with wind turbines are people who are more easily annoyed than others.
Other anti-wind advocates in Ontario are calling for more studies to be done on the effects of windmills on health before the government allows any more wind projects. One-third of Canada’s wind turbines are located in Ontario, and the wind industry is growing the fastest in the province out of all of Canada. The tribunal is expected to make a decision on the Chatham-Kent project sometime in May 2011.