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Infrasound: “Trespass” in Falmouth, VATech Planned Research

April 20, 2015

In a Technical Memo issued by the lead investigator of a recent infrasound study, Noise Control Engineering states in no uncertain terms what Neil and Betsy Andersen of Falmouth have known since late in 2010–

Based on our experience, NCE can unequivocally state that the infrasonic signature captured inside the Andersen residence with the wind turbines operational is 100% attributable to one or both of the Town’s Wind Turbines. To put the conclusions more commonly, this study finds that the wind turbine(s) produce acoustic emissions which are “acoustically trespassing” into the Andersen home.

The study report  is dated February 27, 2015 and will enter the record for the Andersens’ nuisance lawsuit against the town of Falmouth. Judge Christopher J. Muse had issued a ruling in November 2013, requiring the town to turn off its two turbines for 12 hours each night.

The study Michael Bahtiarian performed for this lawsuit follows a string of studies on the emissions wind turbines produce below the threshold of human hearing. Infrasound was studied at the Shirley Wind Project in Wisconsin in 2012. Since then, acoustician Steven Cooper’s 2015 study at the Cape Bridgewater Project in Australia also addressed infrasound. To date, the MassDEP has not been willing to act on infrasound and low frequency noise.*

In this video, Jorge Arenas states that “low frequency can be transported a lot of miles from the source to the receiver.” “So low frequency noise is very difficult to reduce and to control and to mitigate.”

Arenas, a faculty member in the Universidad Austral de Chile’s College of Engineering Sciences, is director of its Institute of Acoustics. He will be a collaborator with Virginia Tech’s Ricardo Burdisso, a professor of mechanical engineering in Blacksburg VA. The collaboration  announced on March 30th, will include analysis of health effects at a wind project in Chile. Andrea Brunais reported this piece for “Outreach and International Affairs,” a production of Virginia Tech.

The goal of this research is to mitigate turbine emissions, according to the VA Tech piece, “Stormy Weather Ahead for Wind Farms?

The interaction of blades with air “is a very challenging research problem,” Arenas continues. It would be “nice if we can predict the noise from the wind farms because there are no models–precise models–to do that.”

Photo Credit: Laura J. Gardner/The Journal Gazette, via Associated Press). Wind turbines that collect renewable energy, set in a pasture in Van Wert County, Ohio, are visible for miles.

The “stormy weather” of the title relates to the concerns of residents, whose voices were heard in Ohio last year when legislators prescribed a quarter-mile setback from property lines. This was compounded when the state put the brakes on accepting new projects while it awaits a legislative panel review of its renewable standard, according to Associated Press reporter John Seewer (New rules cloud future for large-scale wind farms in Ohio, 2/14/15). He reported, “West Virginia’s governor signed a bill this month that eliminates its standards.” Groups in other states are trying to convince their governments to remove their energy standards and, with them, the incentives that attract large wind project developers.

“In Mason County, on the shore of Lake Michigan, local residents filed a lawsuit claiming Consumers Energy’s Lake Wind Energy Park has caused headaches, sleeplessness, nausea, dizziness, stress, and fatigue since the facility began operating two years ago,” according to Bonner R. Cohen, a senior fellow with the National Center for Public Policy Research (Michigan May Curtail Wind Lawsuits, 2/19/15).

*”Please Note that MassDEP has concluded that the available information on the impact of low frequency sound and infrasound on public health is currently insufficient to develop a noise policy that would apply to low frequency sound and infrasound at this time.  MassDEP acknowledges comments received on this issue in response to the health study and will review and consider the latest scientific information on this topic as it becomes available in the future,”

Ken Kimmell, then MassDEP Commissioner, during the first WNTAG meeting on July 18, 2013.

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