Wind Turbine Health Risks
All energy-related activities have risks. Coal mining communities have contended with these risks for over a century. There are serious risks related to drilling for natural gas. Nuclear plants pose worldwide risks, as we saw following this winter’s earthquake off Japan. In Salem, we have lived with the health risks of a coal-burning power plant, which has increased rates of asthma and heart disease in our neighborhoods. An industrial accident at the plant, in 2007, sadly took the lives of three workers.
Since the mid 1970s, thousands of wind turbines have been constructed around the world, many in the vicinity of residential neighborhoods. A survey of these installations from 1970 to 2006, showed a total of 32 deaths related to turbines, all but one among workers constructing and maintaining the installations. Not one study shows conclusively that people get sick or die from wind turbines in their neighborhoods.
Could the wind turbine fall over or break apart?
The risk of the wind turbine falling over or throwing off a blade is in the category of “freak accident.” It would take a Category 5 hurricane to topple the proposed wind turbine at Winter Island. In the case of this type of storm, our entire coastline would be evacuated, and no one would be a risk of injury.
Today’s wind turbines have very sophisticated technology. They are fitted with sensors that recognize ice build up and shut down the turbine when this occurs. A technician must then visit the turbine to visually assess the ice situation and to restart the turbine once the risk of ice throw has passed.
Wind Turbine Syndrome
There is no credible evidence that Wind Turbine Syndrome is a real health condition. The low frequency sound (not necessarily audible) that supposedly causes this condition has not been shown to pose a health risk to humans. In fact, we are routinely exposed to “infrasound” in our day-to-day activities, often at higher intensity levels than that produced by wind turbines.