Earlier this week, a small, but very effective, nuclear device was detonated at Cape Bridewater, which – before Union Super Funds backed Pacific Hydro destroyed it – was a pristine, coastal idyll in South-Western Victoria.
The bomb that went off was a study carried out by one of Australia’s crack acoustic specialists, Steven Cooper – and some typically solid journalism from The Australian’s Graham Lloyd – that put the Pac Hydro initiated pyrotechnics in the International spotlight.
Over the next few posts, STT will analyse just what the detonation, its aftermath and fallout means for an industry which, in Australia, is already on the ropes.
And we’ll look at what it means to the thousands of wind farm victims here – and around the world.
We’ll kick off with the front page story that has sent the wind industry, its parasites and spruikers into a state of terror filled panic.
Turbines may well blow an ill wind over locals, ‘first’ study shows
21 January 2015
PEOPLE living near wind farms face a greater risk of suffering health complaints caused by the low-frequency noise generated by turbines, a groundbreaking study has found.
The study by acoustics expert Steven Cooper is the first in the world in which a wind turbine operator had fully co-operated and turned wind turbines off completely during the testing.
It opens the way for a full-scale medical trial that may resolve the contentious debate about the health impact of wind farms.
Funded by wind farm operator Pacific Hydro, the study was conducted at Cape Bridgewater in southwest Victoria where residents have long complained about headaches, chest pains and sleep loss but have been told it was all in their minds.
As part of the study, residents living between 650m and 1.6km of the wind turbines were asked to diarise what they were experiencing, including headaches, pressure in the head, ears or chest, ringing in the ears, heart racing or a sensation of heaviness.
Their observations were separated into noise, vibration and sensation using a one to five severity scale.
“The resident observations and identification of sensation indicates that the major source of complaint from the operation of the turbines would appear to be related to sensation rather than noise or vibration,” the report says. “For some residents experiencing adverse sensation effects, the impact can be exacerbated by bending over rather than standing, with the effect in some cases being reported as extremely severe and lasting a few hours.”
Mr Cooper said it was the first time that sensation rather than audible noise had been used as an indicator of residents’ perception of nearby wind turbines.
The report found offending sound pressure was present at four distinct phases of turbine operation: starting, maximum power and changing load by more than 20 per cent either up or down.
Mr Cooper said the findings were consistent with research into health impacts from early model wind turbines conducted in the US more than 20 years ago.
The relationship between turbine operation and sensation demonstrated a “cause and effect”, something Pacific Hydro was not prepared to concede, he said.
Survey participant Sonja Crisp, 75, said the first time she experience discomfort from the wind turbines, “it was like a thump in the middle of the chest.
“It is an absolute relief, like an epiphany to have him (Mr Cooper) say I was not crazy (that) when I am doing the dishes I feel nausea and have to get out of the house.”
David Brooks, from Gullen Range near Goulburn, NSW, said health concerns from wind farm developments were not confined to Cape Bridgewater.
The findings should be used as the basis for a thorough health study of the impacts from low frequency noise, he said. “Until this is done, there should be a moratorium on further wind farm developments,” he said.
Pacific Hydro and Mr Cooper agree that more widespread testing is needed. Andrew Richards, executive manager external affairs at Pacific Hydro, said: “While we acknowledge the preliminary findings of this report, what they mean at this time is largely unclear.
“In our view, the results presented in the report do not demonstrate a correlation that leads to the conclusion that there is a causal link between the existence of infrasound frequencies and the ‘sensations’ experienced by the residents.”
Mr Cooper said the findings had totally discounted the so-called “nocebo” effect put forward by some public health officials, who said symptoms were the result of concerns about the possibility of experiencing them.
The Cape Bridgewater study included six residents over eight weeks in three houses.
One hearing-impaired participant had been able to identify with 100 per cent accuracy the performance of wind turbines despite not being able to see them.
Another Cape Bridgewater resident Jo Kermond said the findings had been “both disturbing and confirmation of the level of severity we were and are enduring while being ridiculed by our own community and society.”
Mr Cooper said residents’ threshold of sensations were experienced at narrow band sound pressure levels of four to five hertz at above 50 decibels.
The nominal audible threshold for frequencies of four to five hertz is more than 100 decibels. Mr Cooper said an earlier investigation into health impacts of wind farms by the South Australian EPA had been flawed by limiting the study to only one-third octave bands and not looking at narrow band analysis.
“By looking at high sensation and narrow band I have developed a methodology to undertake assessments using narrow band infrasound. We now have a basis on how to start the medical studies” he said.
Mr Cooper was not engaged to establish whether there was a link between wind turbine operation and health impacts, “but the findings of my work show there is something there,” he said.
Mr Cooper said Pacific Hydro should be commended for allowing the work to proceed.
“It is the first time ever in the world that a wind farm has co-operated with a study including shutting down its operations completely,” he said.
Mr Cooper has coined the term Wind Turbine Signature as the basis of the narrow band infrasound components that are evident in other studies. He said the work at Cape Bridgewater had established a methodology that could be repeated very easily all over the world.
Pacific Hydro said it had conducted the study to see whether it could establish any link between certain wind conditions or sound levels at Cape Bridgewater and the concerns of the individuals involved in the study.
“Steven Cooper shows in his report, for the limited data set, that there is a trend line between discrete infrasound components of the blade pass frequency (and harmonics of the blade pass frequency) and the residents’ sensation observations, based on his narrow band analysis of the results,” Pacific Hydro said.
“However, we do not believe the data as it currently stands supports such a strong conclusion.”
The report has been sent to a range of stakeholders, including government departments, members of parliament, environmental organisations and health bodies.
Pac Hydro’s Cape Bridgewater wind farm has been an absolute disaster from the get go, which has destroyed the lives of dozens of people since it carpeted the area in giant fans, starting back in 2008.
In a perfectly predictable response to the results of a study fully (but reluctantly) funded by Pac Hydro itself – the wind industry, and its highly paid spruikers, including the Clean Energy Council – have set out to smash the findings of the report in the usual fashion: shoot the messenger and – as is the want of eco-fascist profiteers – to ridicule and lambast their victims.
Here’s Graham Lloyd again.
Wind lobby rejects health link
21 January 2015
THE peak wind industry lobby group has rejected a report linking low-frequency noise from wind farms to health complaints from neighbours.
Clean Energy Council policy director Russell Marsh said he would not support further research into the report findings which linked “sensations” felt by residents to low-frequency noise below the threshold of hearing.
The research was funded by Cape Bridgewater wind farm owner Pacific Hydro which said further research was needed.
“Noise measurements had been taken at just three houses and a small number of self-nominated people participated who had previously made complaints about the wind farm’s operation,” Mr Marsh said.
He said the report’s author, acoustics expert Steven Cooper, “believes he has discovered a link between ‘sensations’ felt by the participants and the operation of the wind turbines”.
“However, a number of these ‘sensations’ were reported when the wind turbines were not operating,” Mr Marsh said.
Mr Cooper said wind farm owner Pacific Hydro had limited the study to three houses and the brief was to measure noise and vibration and see if the complaints from residents could be related to specific wind conditions or noise levels.
The houses selected were chosen because residents had stated they were being affected by the wind farm.
One house had been abandoned because the residents said they could no longer live there.
“The study was required to work backwards from the resident’s observations and see what wind or noise levels agreed with the complaint,” Mr Cooper said. “I don’t think you can get any more objective than that.”
Mr Cooper said simple monitoring of each house had cost about $40,000 and complex monitoring with multiple microphones and vibration detectors was $100,000. On-site monitoring of the turbines had cost a further $40,000.
Some sensations and vibration impact had been reported when the turbines were not operating. But Mr Cooper said this was due to vibration of the blades and towers when they were subjected to wind gusts.
The National Health and Medical Research Council has reportedly said it will call for special research into the link between wind turbines and health impacts.
The Clean Energy Council, which is largely funded by the wind and renewable energy industry, said the Cooper report had come to questionable conclusions, and “the vast weight of scientific evidence shows that wind turbines do not directly affect health”.
Nice effort there from CEC spin-king, “Rusty” Marsh. STT followers will remember Rusty’s “Atari” defence – conjured up when the wind industry had to front the work done by NASA in the 1980s, that showed precisely the same kind of problems that are experienced by wind farm neighbours now, existed way back then (see our post here). And for a chronology of the trail of wind industry deception on this score, see our post: Three Decades of Wind Industry Deception: A Chronology of a Global Conspiracy of Silence and Subterfuge
Now, why on earth would the Clean Energy Council be out to prevent any further research into the suffering of its clients’ victims?
Could it have anything at all to do with the fact that the Clean Energy Council is now headed up by Miles “Boy” George – the strangely youthful looking head of near-bankrupt wind power outfit, Infigen (aka Babcock & Brown)?
STT’s Spideysenses are tingling.
Could the threat of costly litigation on a massive international scale be sharpening wind industry spin doctors’ minds and their press releases?
It’s a theme which we take up in detail in our post here.
But, first let’s have a look at the guts of the report and just what the study shows.
The report itself is a doorstop – the report runs to 235 pages, with 6 appendices adding another 500 pages or so. The whole shebang is available in the links below:
It is detailed; it is technical – so, before you crack into its contents, we suggest that you boil the billy, equip yourself with a brew and plop into your favourite reading chair for a solid day’s work.
While you’re waiting for the billy to get a steam-up – here’s STT’s ‘in-a-nutshell’ version of the study:
The impacts from noise and vibration generated by wind turbines include sleep disturbance – defined by the WHO as, in and of itself, an adverse health effect (see our post here).
In addition, those impacts include a range of other adverse sensations, such as: headaches; pressure in the head, ears or chest; ringing in the ears (tinnitus); heart racing; or a sensation of heaviness.
The impacts are most pronounced when turbines start up, are at full power or changing load by more than 20 per cent up or down.
The trigger for the adverse sensations suffered is turbine noise measured inside homes in the 4Hz to 5Hz frequency range at sound pressure levels as low as 50 decibels – well below the hearing threshold for those frequencies (ie, what is termed “infrasound”).
The audible noise measure (ie dB(A)) – used in the noise guidelines is irrelevant.
The sensation impacts correlated with infrasound generated by the turbines and measured inside homes.
Turbine generated infrasound is readily distinguishable from infrasound generated by natural sources, due to the “signature” produced by wind turbines.
The results accord with the work done during the 1980s by Neil Kelley, et al, which proved that very low frequency noise generated by wind turbines caused the adverse effects suffered by wind farm neighbours.
The wind turbine signature identified by Steve Cooper (for details, see the report and the numerous graphs in it) shows distinct periodic patterns caused by the blades passing the towers; as in this graph from the work done at Waterloo by Professor Colin Hansen and his team (see our post here):
For those unfortunates who have to live with and suffer from any and all the above, so far so obvious.
For a roundup of what Pac Hydro’s victims at Cape Bridgewater have had to suffer for nearly 7 years, see the following posts:
STT suggests that you take your time to read Steve Cooper’s study from start to finish so you gain a proper appreciation of what his report actually says.
Which is something that the wind industry’s apologists in the media; the AMA; the pseudo-scientists who advocate for the wind industry; and spin-doctors like the CEC, Andrew Bray & Co clearly haven’t bothered to do – and if they have bothered to read it, are incapable of understanding – or, more to point, are, for mercenary reasons, obstinately unwilling to do so.
One of the spurious attacks from the wind industry cheer squad is that the number of homes selected, the length the study and what was measured was a matter determined by Steven Cooper.
On the contrary, Pac Hydro – who engaged Cooper and paid for the study – set the parameters, as is clear from the report itself: the third paragraph of the Acknowledgment defines the brief; the fourth paragraph of the Executive Summary repeats it; as does the first three paragraphs of the Conclusion.
It has to be remembered that Pac Hydro was forced by residents to carry out this study – having previously engaged a top-flight “community outrage” management outfit, called Futureye to put a lid on six years of bitter complaints from neighbours (see our post here).
So, Pac Hydro determined to limit the study to a question of whether certain wind speeds and noise levels would give rise to disturbance – and limited that study to ONLY 3 homes and their 6 residents.
Pac Hydro originally set the study period of 6 weeks, but this was increased to 8 weeks to take account of a two-week shutdown related to high voltage cabling work associated with the wind farm.
Given that Pac Hydro itself set the limitations, it seems a little rich that the wind industry’s spin doctors have drawn their bows on Steven Cooper (attacking him, personally) – and are braying in unison that the study is “flawed”, due to those very same limitations.
The easy answers to the carping coming from the wind industry and its parasites, breaks down like this.
Is the study capable of being reproduced? YES.
Is it possible to scale up the study to include more homes and residents? YES.
Is it possible to find a representative cohort as a control group to further validate this or any further study? YES.
In the light of those answers, is it possible to repeat, validate and extend the findings made in the study? OBVIOUSLY.
So far, so scientific.
For a taste of what REALLY qualified noise and vibration experts are saying about Steven Cooper’s study – see our post here.
But, before we leave the topic, we have to notice one mighty red herring that’s been tossed into the ring by pseudo-scientists and mock-medicos that says the study is “flawed” because it involved “self-reporting” of the sensations experienced by Pac Hydro’s victims.
Now, it just might be that these nitpickers have superlative powers that allow them to simply look at a patient and determine whether he or she is suffering a headache, for example – and the degree of severity of that headache – or any other such “sensation” of the kind the subject of the study?
But we doubt it.
Sensations and symptoms, such as headaches – and pain, more generally – are always “self-reported”.
The usual drill goes something like this.
Patient: “I’ve been suffering from a headache since Tuesday”.
Dr: “where precisely?”
Patient: “to the front and the right, up here” (touching his bald spot).
Dr: “how would you rate your headache on a scale of 1 to 10?”
Patient: “it was a 7/10 yesterday, but it’s more like a 9/10 today”.
The exchange might result in some diagnostic tests – MRIs etc that might show a tumour, say, but which are yet to establish the existence (or otherwise) of the sensation of pain. But, more often than not, the patient will be sent packing was some analgesics and advice to take it easy for a while.
In all manner of circumstances, sensations of the kind being reported here will always and everywhere be reported by the person experiencing them to those engaged in recording them.
Unless these boys have uniquely mastered the art of telekinesis – then their carping about the study being “flawed” on that ground falls just a little flat.
What the wind industry has to fear is not so much THIS study, but the DOZENS of studies that will be scaled up, repeated and follow on using the same methods and techniques – both here and around the world.
There are hundreds of unwilling guinea pigs in Australia: Bald Hills, Waubra and Macarthur in Victoria; Waterloo, Mt Bryan and Hallett in South Australia; Cullerin, Lake George and Gullen Range in New South Wales – for starters.
Therefore, finding willing participants for any further, larger and more detailed studies doesn’t present an obstacle.
No, it’ll be the wind industry and its parasites – seeking to protect their entrenched financial interests by avoiding liability to their hundreds of victims – that will be working overtime to prevent any further research. The howling from Rusty Marsh from the CEC is just the beginning of a brewing-blockade by the wind industry on any further scientific endeavour.
And those in on the efforts to stymie and shut down any proper investigation into wind farm health impacts include Infigen’s “great white hope”, Energy Minister, Ian “Macca” Macfarlane (see our posts here and here) and Australia’s utterly disgraceful National Health and Medical Research Council.
The NHMRC has been infiltrated and co-opted by wind industry plants – like Liz Hanna – from Drs for Wind Turbines – and Norm Broner – who worked as a pet noise expert for wind industry consultants, SKM (see our post here).
And – despite having a massive pile of taxpayers’ cash and years to find it – the NHMRC failed to rustle up (or deliberately ignored) the highly relevant work done by Neil Kelley and Co back in the 1980s (see our posts here and here and here) – which STT found without too much trouble (see our posts here and here).
To keep the Cape Bridgewater ball rolling, it is imperative that “Macca” and his Department and the NHMRC be excluded from having any involvement or role to play in any further repeat of Steve Cooper’s work.
Far better to have the Federal Health Minister, Sussan Ley and her sidekick, Senator Fiona Nash put on the case – and to have them appoint a multi-disciplinary team of suitably qualified experts to crack on and do what the wind industry fears most.
And nor should further studies depend on the whims of wind power outfits choosing to co-operate: ‘co-operation’ should be a mandatory obligation placed on the operator at the planning level – as well as a mandatory requirement attached to their ‘entitlement’ to receive $billions in REC Tax/Subsidies, such that a failure or refusal to assist should automatically result in immediate suspension of their accreditation to receive RECs by the Clean Energy Regulator.
The CER is obliged under the Renewable Energy Act to suspend the entitlement for wind power generators to receive RECs where evidence exists of non-compliance with a range of laws, but flatly refuses to do so – even in blatant cases like Gullen Range (see our post here).
Fortunately, all these matters and more are on the radar and squarely in the sights of the Senate Select Committee, its terms of reference including the following:
(1) That a select committee, to be known as the Select Committee on Wind Turbines be established to inquire into and report on the application of regulatory governance and economic impact of wind turbines by 24 June 2015, with particular reference to:
(b) how effective the Clean Energy Regulator is in performing its legislative responsibilities and whether there is a need to broaden those responsibilities;
(c) the role and capacity of the National Health and Medical Research Council in providing guidance to state and territory authorities;
(d) the implementation of planning processes in relation to wind farms, including the level of information available to prospective wind farm hosts;
(e) the adequacy of monitoring and compliance governance of wind farms;
(f) the application and integrity of national wind farm guidelines;
For those suffering from or threatened by turbine generated low-frequency noise and infrasound – the product of ‘standards’ and planning ‘controls’ that are so lax as to be risible – the callous conduct of wind power outfits, like Pac Hydro; and the institutional corruption that not only permits it, but which actively defends that conduct – now is your chance to hammer them; and the so-called ‘standards’ and planning ‘controls’ that set this mess up in the first place – and which, if left in place, will allow it to continue unabated.
Why not drop a submission to the Senate Inquiry along those lines? Note that the opportunity to make submissions to the Committee ends on 4 May 2015. See the link here.