Headache for residents after monitoring reveals bad vibes
2 August 2014
FOR the past two months, Melissa Ware’s 150-year-old stone-foundation house in the shadow of the Cape Bridgewater wind farm in Victoria has been wired to monitor sounds that cannot be heard easily by the human ear.
Ware, who is partially deaf, and two nearby families have kept a diary of the physical sensations they were experiencing at regular intervals. A scorecard was developed ranking three factors — noise, vibration and sensation — on a scale of one to five.
The research has been funded by wind farm owner Pacific Hydro and undertaken by acoustics specialist Steven Cooper, who has had a long interest in why wind turbines have produced so many health complaints that defy easy explanation.
For six years, since the wind turbines started operating at Cape Bridgewater, Ware has complained of headaches and other “pressure” effects she can attribute only to the arrival of the renewable energy project she once had supported enthusiastically.
The early results from comparing the readings from Cooper’s highly sensitive microphones and Ware’s diary notes provide uncomfortable evidence for the wind industry and some relief for Ware, told for six years that her problems were all in her head.
During the eight-week trials at Cape Bridgewater, from inside her house, Ware has been able to express with 100 per cent accuracy what is happening with the wind turbines outside.
In a report-back meeting to residents and the company, Cooper posed the theory that high sensations, including headaches and chest pains, correlated to times when the turbine blades were not efficiently aligned to the wind.
The results from recordings and residents’ diaries show that a change in power output of more than 20 per cent leads to a change in sensation for the residents.
“The main thing I get from the study is that there is a direct correlation from the noise coming out of the wind farm and the response in my body to that noise,” Ware says. “I have a bilateral hearing impairment, and I don’t always hear from the wind farm, but I feel it from the ground, the floor or the furniture I am sitting on.”
Cooper has said the Pacific Hydro Cape Bridgewater development complies with existing noise guidelines. Issues of ambient noise from waves on surrounding cliffs and wind direction also are relevant in the data.
Pacific Hydro has published the minutes of the report-back meetings and Cooper’s preliminary findings but has drawn no public conclusions. Company spokesman Andrew Richards says Cooper’s work has “resulted in some interesting data” but “doesn’t necessarily provide any conclusions or outcomes”.
But Richards acknowledges there is a problem. “Whatever they are experiencing is real for them,” he says.
University of Sydney public health specialist Simon Chapman has used the term “nocebo” to argue that the complaints are psychosomatic and exacerbated by warnings from anti-wind farm groups.
In a new paper, Chapman says “The statement that ‘more than 40’ houses have been ‘abandoned’ because of wind turbines in Australia is a factoid promoted by wind farm opponents for dramatic, rhetorical impact.”
A review by the National Health and Medical Research Council says there is “no consistent evidence that adverse health effects are caused by exposure to wind turbine noise”.
However, it says: “While no research has directly addressed the association between infrasound from wind turbines and health effects, the possibility of such an association cannot be excluded on present evidence.”
Concerned residents in Australia want the federal government to use Cooper’s research methodology at Cape Bridgewater as the basis for an independent study that has been promised by Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane.
Steven Cooper is yet to analyse the mountain of data he has collected, but a snapshot of his initial findings can be found in the presentation he gave Cape Bridgewater’s long-suffering residents a couple of weeks back: pdf available here. Here’s a summary of his preliminary findings:
- Discussions revealed different impacts on residents – broken down to noise, vibration and sensation to be reported on a 1 – 5 severity scale.
- Developed a method of graphically displaying results where blue is noise, green is vibration and red is sensation
- When plotting power output of wind farms the initial assessment could not correlate results with observations except for showing changes
- Found residents were just reporting changes they noticed in their perceived impacts. MAJOR FINDING
- Changed reporting to give regular (1 – 2 hr) observations not just changes.
- Plotting the observations versus the power output of the wind farm found correlation with some of the various acoustic indices INSIDE the dwellings.
- High sensation levels related to turbines just starting, change in power levels by say more than 20% (either up or down) and when wind exceeds maximum power output and blades are being de-powered.
- Correlation of external background level versus power output but no correlation of observations with the external dB(A) level.
- Issue of ambient noise from waves on cliff/ocean and wind direction is relevant in data.
Preliminary Findings to Date
- The use of dB(A) noise levels external to a dwelling have no correlation with internal noise levels or impacts that residents identified as occurring as a result of the wind farm.
- With the wind farm not in operation the residents indicate that noise, vibration and sensation are all at low severity ratings although there was one resident who clearly has a greater sensitivity than the other residents and is able to identify instances of noise, vibration and sensation that are above a threshold level.
- However those instances are of short duration and are not of a constant impact.
- There is a direct correlation with the external dB(A) level and the power output of the wind farm.
- There is correlation between the power level of the wind farm versus the dB(A)LF level determined inside residential dwellings.
- Where the dB(A)LF exceeds 20 dB there is a corresponding identification of noise in the diary observations.
- Where the internal measurements reveal the dB(A) L95 is above 20 dB(A) together with the dB(A)LF above 20 and the same time dB(C) above 50dB and the 4 Hz 1/3 octave band above 50dB then there is a higher degree of noise and sensation which would be deemed by the residents as unacceptable.
- The higher levels of sensation occur with the qualification of the above indices and also exhibit a noticeable drop in the dB(C) Leq minus dB(A) Leq together with an increase in dB(A) Leq minus dB(A) L95. This may provide a simple tool to identify the need for examination of modulation of characteristics. However it is noted that there are some limitations in normal noise loggers to provide accurate results of the dB(A) Leq and dB(A) L95, due to the noise floor of instrumentation used.
- At none of the houses has the dB(G) been above 85 and therefore if that level has taken as the hearing threshold of infrasound then there is no audible infrasound in any of the houses
- The presence of the wind turbine signature, which is related to the blade pass frequency and multiple harmonics of that frequency, is readily identified inside dwellings and at times outside dwellings.
- The wind turbines signature does not exists when the turbines are not operational.
- The use of 1/3 octave band information to compare infrasound generated by turbines and the infrasound in the natural environment does not contain the required information to identify any difference. When supplemented by narrow band analysis of the infrasound region the results clearly show that the natural environment of infrasound has no such periodic patterns.
- Electrical interference/surges in mains + very strong winds has created problems with some data collection.
- The significant amount of data that is available from the monitoring will require further time for detailed analysis in view of issues that have been raised by the residents during the course of the monitoring and the findings to date.
- Analysis of vibration measurements around an inside houses is yet to be undertaken.
- Basic material is to be presented looking at the pitch angles etc. during certain time periods for further analysis by Pacific Hydro and its turbine suppliers.
- The resident’s observations and identification of sensation separately to vibration and noise indicates that the major source of complaint for the operation of the turbines would appear to be related to sensation rather than noise.
Steven Cooper July 2014
It’s clear then that what people like Melissa Ware are experiencing isn’t a figment of their imaginations; or the product of “scaremongering” by the Waubra Foundation.
The punishment being meted out to people like Melissa leaves them with a choice: stay and suffer; or pack up and leave. Plenty of Australian families have plumped for the latter.
For a rundown on Australian wind farm victims abandoning perfectly good homes see our post here – where Senator John Madigan details the scale of a perfectly avoidable disaster.
Among those who have decided that their long-term health is more important than their homes is another of Pac Hydro’s victims, Sonia Trist (see our post here).
All of this suffering is the direct product of the mandatory RET: no RET, no RECs, no wind farms. The misery being dealt up at Cape Bridgewater on a nightly basis is just another unjustified cost of the most costly and perverse industry welfare scheme ever devised (see our post here).
Almost graciously, Pac Hydro spin doctor Andrew Richards concedes in favour of its victims that: “Whatever they are experiencing is real for them.” Funny about that.
For a little taste of the “reality” of the life brought to Cape Bridgewater by Pac Hydro, cop an earful of the soundtrack to this video (and see our post here).
12 thoughts on “Pac Hydro’s Cape Bridgewater Wind Farm Victims Vindicated”
Here in the Tehachapi Pass, near Mojave and Tehachapi California, the drought has slowed the winds until last night. I’m 1.48 miles (2.38 kilometers) away from the nearest 125 wind turbine generators my Samsung phone sound meter app registered 72 db. I couldn’t stay outdoors.
A few years ago the sound from turbines was so intense that my husband exhibited full blown meniers – with tininitis, ears full of fluid, hearing loss and dizziness. He went to a specialist and they couldn’t figure it out. The doctor refused to accept it was the wind turbine generators.
I believe that all the people that have complained of pain and suffering should now be treated like any other person in the Community – without all the vilification that has happened to so many. It does not matter if a complaint is from one person or from a thousand and one people, if the first complaint had been investigated as laid out in the permit conditions and the Public Health & Wellbeing Act, all those people who have suffered since the Toora Wind Farm in Victoria, would not have suffered.
I have known the information presented in the preliminary findings for almost 5 years. I firmly believe that the use of the G weighting is a nonsense and this was made very clear at the Cherry Tree VCAT hearing.
I think that he Findings of the Cape Bridgewater investigation should be presented in a manner that people can understand. This would open up a pathway for people to ask questions in relation to their concerns without being humiliated by the con artists in favour of wind turbine developments. The use of terms such as audible infrasound and inaudible infrasound is very conflicting, as is the use of dBA without reference to whether it is LAeq logarithm average (the WHO standard). The sound for prediction is LAeq – the wind turbine test results are LAeq but the compliance and complaints are only LA95. The use of LA95 considers the quietest 5 percent of the sound using arithmetic average and no indication what so ever to the sound experienced by people who make complaints.
The sound of 4 hz one third octave over 50 dB and C weighting also over 50 dB was also when I believed I was being affected in my initial observations and I also have heard the humming coming from the turbines in very windy conditions before the turbines become operational.
The preliminary findings do not indicate the peak value of the sound. It also does not indicate amplitude modulation this I assume will be fully considered in the final report.
I believe the use of C weighting, LA95 and LAeq are tools to indicate whether a problem exists in the first instance but will not get to the root of the problem without the complete removal of all weightings and be assessed in real time while being the base.
I believe also assessment of the static electricity EMR frequencies from the operation of turbine blades (very important in areas of where SWER electricity lines are used) and also when wind turbines are operating in less than the permissible operational range (which is approximately 4 mt/sec). The release of EMR into the atmosphere has been a area of concern in relation to muscle spasms for many people.
I believe that the information should be presented in a sawtooth like pattern indicating the pulsing of sound/air pressure (Amplitude modulation) that lay people can understand. If I had not researched how wind farm sound is assessed, I believe I would not have a clue what the preliminary findings meant based on the terminology used in the preliminary findings to date.
It will be interesting to see how Pac Hydro try to wriggle their way out of this one.
I have attended all of Steven Cooper’s presentations. The mounting evidence is damming of the whole wind industry.
They should stop denying the problems that have been known for many years and do something to fix the whole mess. However, don’t hold your breath – there is too much money at stake and too many snouts in the trough.
It’s amazing what can be found when you use the right equipment and do the right testing.
These findings, even though preliminary, should be enough for institutions like the NHMRC to open up their purse strings and fund true, independent medical research. No longer can they, and the others who support this industry, continue to hide behind in the shadows of turbines and say they don’t produce enough noise to trouble people, that they are as quiet as a family fridge.
These findings are ground-breaking and will open up a whole new dimension to discussions on ‘noise’ and how it can be ‘felt’ and ‘sensed’ by humans and animals. It will get people talking and working to understand the effects of ‘noise’ from other sources.
Well done Steven Cooper. Your work will send much needed shock waves around the world.
Reblogged this on Cornwall Wind Watch.
I wonder what Simon Chapman is thinking now – especially after serving “ha-ha-ho-logical” explanations to wind turbines and the distressed people around wind farms…
Oh – but I better watch what I say! The dear professor might threaten me with legal action should I make any defamatory comments.
The giant fans can also produce LFN and infrasound, even when they’re not turning. The blades can vibrate like a tuning fork when the wind blows against them. Don’t believe me? Ask Les Huson – he told me.
Oh, we believe all right. Some of our worst nights occur when the wind is calm or barely blowing. The sensation is that of a deep resonant pulsing, drumming “sound” inside our heads. It is not the dB level of the sound that causes us the grief but the composition of the sound and the way in which our physiology responds.
We can assure you that it is no fun.
Does the wind industry know of our problems? Yes! Have they made any attempt to disprove or even show the existence of the sounds? No! How do they react to our claims? With scientific research? Of course not, they use their usual techniques of denigration and mockery and hide behind pseudo science of so called academics with their baseless, pathetic, sociological theories.
All you followers of the nocebo cult, start practising what you preach. It just might ease some of the pain when the wind industry collapses.
Will we shed a tear when humble pie becomes your daily fare? Not flaming likely mate!
This post demonstrates, once again, the reality for those living in the vicinity of wind farms. It also demonstrates another ‘reality’, namely the absolute callousness of those in positions of power towards their own compatriots that work and pay the taxes to keep them in the position of comfort they enjoy, which is a long way from ‘wind farms’. If the ‘planners’ and ‘rent seekers’ aren’t brought to book on this issue then it simply reinforces the principle of closing up the barricades step by step to keep the ‘untouchables’ at bay whilst partying at their expense — just look at the example set by the ACT government as pointed out in yesterday’s post (bravo to Angus Taylor, pity his state counterparts don’t develop a spine).