WELLINGTON CTY. — Local public health officials have asked the Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion to investigate the potential impact of wind turbines on human health.
Rob Thompson, Director of Health Protection with the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health Unit, submitted the request to the agency on May 6, along with Nicola Mercer, acting Medical Officer of Health.
“There’s concern across the province about the proliferation of [wind farms],” Thompson said on Monday. He explained there is a lot of literature coming out of Europe concerning the health effects associated with the noise and electromagnetic disturbances caused by turbines, but very little Ontario research on the matter.
Thompson acknowledged a lot of reports linking turbines to adverse health effects — such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, nose bleeds, constant ringing in the ears and trouble sleeping — are biased. But given that the province has “fast tracked” wind energy developments, he said the WDGPH letter is necessary.
“We think there’s enough evidence that somebody should look at it,” he said, noting wind farms are a particular concern in the Wellington-Dufferin area.
There are already about 100 turbines in Melancthon and Amaranth townships in neighbouring Dufferin County, and there are several proposals in northern Wellington County.
Smaller scale proposals include one from Schneider Power for five 125-metre-tall turbines just northeast of Arthur, and two from private landowner Willem Roubos, who wants one turbine in Mapleton and two in Wellington North.
The largest proposal to date is Invenergy Canada’s Conestogo Highlands Wind Energy Farm in Mapleton, which could reach at least 60-megawatts or 40 turbines in size. Invenergy plans to begin construction of phase one — 14 turbines measuring 125 metres — this year.
But WDGPH has neither the resources nor the expertise to complete a study to verify any health risks, Thompson said, so the unit has asked the Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion to investigate.
That agency was formed as a direct result of the SARS inquest and is still in its infancy, Thompson said. That means its primary concern is communicable diseases and it is just starting to develop the capacity to deal with environmental health concerns, he added.
“It’s not going to be a fast turnaround, but it’s something they should be looking at,” said Thompson when asked about a timeline for a response.
James Murphy, of Invenergy Canada, did not respond to requests for comment by press time.
by Chris Daponte
14 May 2009
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