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Illinois forum addresses wind farm health issues, gag orders

Health, Human impacts, News, Wind turbines Add comments

A brief article from a local paper in Illinois shed some new light on two key issues that have come up in many communities considering new wind farm proposals.  The meeting of the Lee County Zoning Board of Appeals featured an hour-long presentation from Carl Phillips, an epidemiologist who has published a peer-reviewed study saying there is “overwhelming evidence” of health effects near turbines. He said that people up to two miles away have reported health issues such as sleep and stress issues and mood disorders.  When asked what percentage of residents report health problems, he said that there have not been solid studies of that, but that his best guess, based on what research has been done, is about 5 percent of those within a mile or so. This relatively low estimate may surprise some, but such reports from many wind farms lead Phillips to conclude that anyone denying health effects exist is ignoring the evidence or “trying to mislead.” And, even this low estimate was challenged by representatives from Mainstream Renewable Power, who characterized Phillips’ presentation as “personal hypotheses.” (Ed. note: the continuing effort of industry representatives to discredit suggestion of any problems at all, including Phillips’ modest 5% estimate, or recordings that reflect higher levels of sound or amplitude modulation than expected, has become a major impediment to constructive engagement on wind farm siting decisions; ongoing diligent study by more cautionary experts deserves to be given more credence.)

In addition, the mayor of the village of Lee asked representatives of Mainstream whether confidentiality agreements signed by landowners leasing land for turbines will prevent them from discussing any health problems that they may notice once the turbines are operating–reflecting a widespread concern that health problems may be under-reported due to such agreements.  One Mainstream rep spurred laughter from the audience when he said he couldn’t talk about what the confidentiality agreements address, since they’re “inherently confidential.” But another Mainstream rep stressed that the agreements do not preclude talking about health. (Ed. note: Many confidentiality agreements with landowners are primarily designed to keep financial details private; this is especially true when a house is bought by developers.)

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