Falmouth Board of Health To Take Public Testimony On Health Impacts Of Wind Turbines

“… when she heard that someone had attempted suicide, she decided it was time to take action.”

Board Of Health To Take Public Testimony On Health Impacts Of Wind Turbines

Brent Runyon

Published: 05/08/12

The Falmouth Board of Health decided on the spur of the moment last night to hold an emergency hearing about the health effects of the wind turbines later this month, which could result in shutting down the three large turbines in town until there is more evidence about these effects.
Board members were told that one person who lives near the turbines attempted suicide and heard testimony that residents are moving out of their homes, which led to the decision to hold the hearing.

Chairman of the board of health Gail A. Harkness said when she heard that someone had attempted suicide, she decided it was time to take action. “That’s what got me,” Ms. Harkness said in a phone interview this morning. “That’s when I realized that something had to be done. This has gone far enough.”

The Falmouth Board of Health voted unanimously to hold a public hearing about whether a health emergency exists because of wind turbines and determine if action is necessary. The hearing will be held on Thursday, May 24, at 7 PM, most likely at town hall, although the location was not determined.

Ms. Harkness said the wind turbines that could be affected by an emergency order are the two town-owned wind turbines, Wind 1 and Wind 2, and the Notus Clean Energy turbine at Falmouth Technology Park. All three turbines are 1.65 megawatts and made by Vestas.

Chairman of the board of health Gail A. Harkness said when she heard that someone had attempted suicide, she decided it was time to take action. 

The board will accept oral testimony from people directly affected by the turbines and written testimony within 10 days of the hearing, Ms. Harkness said.

The lack of action by the Falmouth Board of Selectmen and state agencies was part of her reasoning for taking action last night, she said, although she was unaware that the selectmen had made a decision in executive session to shut down the turbines from 7 PM to 7 AM every day.

A discussion on the wind turbines was not on the agenda, but the board took up the matter under the correspondence from Day O. Mount of Blacksmith Shop Road.

“The Falmouth Board of Health is on the hook,” wrote Mr. Mount in his letter, which was read at the meeting by his wife, Kathie C. Mount.

“In response to numerous health complaints from Falmouth residents, Falmouth’s Board of Health has written to the [Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Public Health] several times over the past two years asking for guidance on the health hazards of industrial turbines.

“As far as we know, written guidance has never been received!

“Neither the State DEP nor the DPH has ever said whether the Town should run or not run its industrial turbines. Why should they? If anything happens, they are not to blame. They aren’t listening to the complaints. They are not the ones making the decision to run the turbines. That decision is being made solely by the Town of Falmouth.

“The State must be delighted. Months and months can go by and they don’t have to answer any tough questions. The Falmouth Board of Health, which has the power to stop the turbines, is in fact sending a message to the State that it thinks there are no significant health problems. Obviously, if the Board of Health thought there were serious health problems, wouldn’t they turn the turbines off?

“If the Board of Health would ever want to get off the hook, all the Board of Health would have to do would be to order that all three industrial turbines be turned off, pending receipt of written assurance from the State that there are no health risks,” Mr. Mount wrote.

Ms. Mount said in a phone interview this morning that she and her husband no longer sleep at their home on Blacksmith Shop Road, because of the disruption the turbines cause. She said he is bothered by the pressure caused by the turbines, not by the noise.

She said she was very happy with the result of the hearing. “The board’s reaction was a very positive reaction. I felt very good about the meeting,” she said.

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