Safety, health and public welfare

“I have never investigated a noise problem where the public has been so vocal about ruined lives and home abandonment. Why are neighbors complaining about industrial wind turbines? Why are regulatory agencies unable to protect public health and wellbeing? 

“I recommend that anyone who thinks wind turbines are good acoustic neighbors to do what I did. Go to a wind turbine site, live as a neighbor, and sleep in their bed when the wind blows strong. I do not want to do that again.”

Written testimony presented earlier this year to the Vermont Senate Natural Resources Committee concerning S.30, a bill to establish a 3-year moratorium on industrial wind development in the state — provided courtesy of Vermonters for a Clean Environment.

My name is Stephen Ambrose and I support the proposed three-year moratorium on wind energy generating plants.

I am a Board Certified Member of the Institute of Noise Control Engineering and a Full Member of the Acoustical Society of America.

infrasoundI have over 35 years’ experience working in acoustics, environmental sound, and industrial noise control.

My career started with Stone & Webster Engineering Corporation in Boston Massachusetts.

I was responsible for quieting large electric power stations to coexist as a good acoustic neighbor. I am currently an independent consultant practicing near Portland, Maine.

I coauthored the Bruce McPherson Infrasound and Low Frequency Noise Study for Falmouth, Massachusetts, followed by a number of peer-reviewed papers and articles about wind turbine noise and adverse public health impacts.

For my career, I have stressed the importance for clients to reduce their noise levels sufficient not to cause an adverse public response. People have a negative reaction when the noise increase approaches 5 dB, which represents sporadic complaints.

Noise control engineer’s work is judged acceptable when there are no noise complaints. Wind turbine siting documents should not use an urban night-time noise level of 45 dBA as a design goal.

This level is too loud for rural environments that have night-time sound levels in the low 20s and high teens. There should be no wind turbine complaints about noise with today’s knowledge and instrument capabilities.soundwave

I have never investigated a noise problem where the public has been so vocal about ruined lives and home abandonment.

Why are neighbors complaining about industrial wind turbines? Why are regulatory agencies unable to protect public health and wellbeing? I will answer both of these questions.

A career-long friend and fellow acoustician, Robert Rand, and I decided to investigate wind turbine complaints. We are committed to our profession’s Canon of Ethics: hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public. These are similar to those held by professional engineers and health professionals.

Our first visit to a wind turbine site quickly revealed why neighbors were complaining. Wind turbines sound awful. Beyond 1000-ft the higher frequencies are no longer audible. Blade rotations cause the noise levels to fluctuate loudly with an unnatural sound character.

Pedersen & Waye research shows that wind turbine sounds are more objectionable than noise produced by traffic, trains and planes. Many wind turbine neighbors are going to describe how their lives have been ruined by audible noise and infrasound produced by wind turbines. I encourage each committee member to believe the wind turbine neighbors’ testimonials.

I have measured wind turbine noise levels at impacted neighbors’ homes during moderate to strong wind speeds. Wind turbines are the only noise source where one is invited by newly met strangers to live in their house, sleep in their beds and have them leave to sleep elsewhere.

It was a surprise to experience the debilitating effects described by Dr. Nina Pierpont’s research, “Wind Turbine Syndrome”. I felt miserable with a headache, nausea, loss of cognitive ability, sleep interference and interruption.

When I left the testifying on Thurs, Jan. 31 re: S. 30 and S.21 in Sen. Natural Resources & Energy Committee area all symptoms went away. It needs to be understood that not everyone is affected by wind turbines.

I view my experiences as an effective peer-review investigation of wind turbine neighbors’ complaints. Regulatory boards are now unable to protect public health and wellbeing because the wind turbine industry has substituted their own measurement and assessment procedures through international committees.

The wind turbine acoustic standards differ dramatically from other noise sources. Wind turbines are evaluated using A- weighted sound levels by removing all low frequency and infrasound from consideration. A-weighting lowers infrasound levels by 50 dB at 20 Hz and 70 dB at 10 Hz. This promotes false statements that wind turbines do not produce infrasound.

I have measured infrasound using a sound level meter and a microbarograph. I have experienced the adverse health effects caused by infrasound. Again, I felt miserable with a headache, nausea, loss of cognitive ability, sleep interference and interruption.

I felt better when only a few miles away from the wind turbines’ influence. I would like to add a cautionary comment about the Public Service Board justification for granting the Certificate of Public Good (pg. 100).

I quote the second sentence first: ‘The Petitioners have demonstrated wind turbines are not likely to emit audible or perceivable infrasound’. This is a very weak statement to justify the first sentence. ‘We conclude that the noise monitoring plan need not include monitoring for infrasound, sound levels below 20 Hz”. My professional opinion is the Public Service Board has been very cleverly misled, or maybe the better word is duped.

Industrial wind turbines have proven to be a public health hazard in too many communities in Maine, Massachusetts and Vermont. People choose to live in a pristine natural environment. Wind turbines expose neighbors to excessive noise and adverse health impacts.

I recommend that anyone who thinks wind turbines are good acoustic neighbors to do what I did. Go to a wind turbine site, live as a neighbor, and sleep in their bed when the wind blows strong. I do not want to do that again.

The very nice house used in the infrasound study is available because the owners have abandoned their dream house and cashed in their retirement to find another place to live.

I conclude with this. Neighbors are better acoustic analyzers than any instrument made today. I respect their judgment.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I will be happy to answer any questions.

Stephen E. Ambrose, INCE, Bd.Cert.

Acoustics, Environmental Sound and Industrial Noise

SE Ambrose & Associates

Tel/Fax: 207.892.6691

15 Great Falls Road

Mobile: 207.653.9099

Windham, ME 04062

email: seaa@myfairpoint.net

wind-turbines-near-homes-600x450

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. Peter Gardner says:

    I’ve read a lot of your’s and Rob’s info on this subject and it does give me hope that as the reality of the situation gets through higher up the food chain, we won’t be banging our heads against a brick wall for too long. I have been looking at the number of bat deaths which appear to be caused by lung collapse due to the pressure drop behind the blades. Is it possible that some of the LF sound is caused by a fast collapse of the low pressure ‘bubble’ behind the blade. A bit like when air collapses into the void created by lightning which results in thunder?

  2. ex Green now Milne is in charge says:

    Ambrose: “I recommend that anyone who thinks wind turbines are good acoustic neighbors to do what I did. Go to a wind turbine site, live as a neighbor, and sleep in their bed when the wind blows strong.”

    Fantastic advice in a compelling testimony, for every skeptical turbine proponent. I wonder if the SA EPA have taken note? As well as their sophisticated instruments, perhaps they themselves (and their political masters, their children and frail elderly parents and pets) should take a holiday at Waterloo and other sites of adversely affected neighbours. With a qualification – it is well known that feathering of the blades of turbines during ‘independant’ acoustic monitoring has been an industry strategy to mask acoustic effects, wind mast data or not.

    Best to randomise the tests, in multiple locations. (I dont see the police advertising their alcohol breath testing stations in advance, do you?)

    Trouble is who really is going to keep the bastards honest? There is no reason to trust the EPA, even though Dr Gemmel appears to be a CEO of his word, as some of his staff have a seriously compromised track record in this area. It certainly wont be the Greens or the ALP- Milne and her acolytes are no doubt busy looking for astroturf in their organically certified capital city compost bins. One wonders if the Greens will try to bring Bob Brown back. He must be their only glimmer of hope for their own future, but even he was mute on this gross injustice. Perhaps he and his family should be the first to make a booking?

  3. One of the best things I’ve ever read. Thanks! Have posted on Quixotes.

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