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Kingston Board of Health Expands Shut Down Periods

October 23, 2015
Table with two charts showing that power output, not wind speed, impacts noise level

Stephen Ambrose’s commentary on aspects of the HMMH report

Is Kingston becoming a little more responsive to resident noise concerns?

Kathryn Gallerani reported in Wicked Local Kingston that the October 19, 2015 meeting of the Board of Health selected wind speed as the criterion for stopping the night-time operation of the “Independence” turbine (Kingston Board of Health modifies Independence wind turbine abatement order 10/19/15).

Wind direction will no longer be a determining factor dictating when the turbine will be shut down, and the turbine would need to be shut down for an additional hour a day under certain conditions.
The order requires that the turbine be shut down year-round between the hours of midnight and 4 a.m. when wind speeds reach at least 7 meters per second at the turbine hub, regardless of wind direction, and between 11:30 p.m. and 4:30 a.m. when wind speeds exceed 9 meters or more per second, also regardless of wind direction.

As Kingston continues to grapple with the discomfort of wind neighbors, the “final report” issued by HMMH was on the agenda for the Board of Health on October 19th. The original noise monitoring report left out a significant amount of relevant information that was later released. Wind Wise published a series of commentaries on the findings by noise expert Stephen Ambrose (beginning in June 2015). He recently faulted the MassDEP and other agencies for failing to protect communities around wind turbines (letter to MassDEP 9/28/15):

Neighbors’ complaints have clearly shown that wind-turbine feasibility noise studies are flawed; too large, too loud, and too close as evidenced by Falmouth, Fairhaven, Scituate and Hoosac. After five years reviewing flawed wind-turbine noise assessment reports, I conclude that unaffiliated non-windindustry consultants (e.g. independent) are ignored by Massachusetts agencies committed to fund and support wind turbine development. I have found there are no state agencies wanting or willing to protect public health and welfare from wind turbine emissions. Instead, they collectively respond with blind eyes and deaf ears in order not to acknowledge causing public harm.

In a letter to the Board of Selectmen after the October 19th meeting, Kingston residents Doreen and Sean Reilly pointed out the inaction of one town official who was receiving updates on the HMMH report:

We were extremely disturbed to learn, at last night’s Board of Health Public Hearing, that several Peer Review analyses performed by Board Certified Institute of Noise Control Engineer, Stephen Ambrose which were received by Town Planner, Tom Bott, were never shared with the Board of Health.

Here is their letter in full:

To:  Kingston Board of Selectman,
We were extremely disturbed to learn, at last night’s Board of Health Public Hearing, that several Peer Review analyses performed by Board Certified Institute of Noise Control Engineer, Stephen Ambrose which were received by Town Planner, Tom Bott, were never shared with the Board of Health.
Town Planner Bott was carbon copied on these critiques as a member of the KWI “study team”.
It seems obvious to us that any information that would potentially aid the Board of Health in understanding the HMMH report, and conclusions, should have been immediately forwarded to the Board for their review.
What disturbs us most is that this with-holding of critical information, put together by a nationally recognized acoustical expert, is just another example of a town employee undermining any move toward a rational review of KWI noise issues and specifically the HMMH report.
You might recall that we have been very concerned from the start with the fact that the MassDEP deferred the acoustic testing process to the MassCEC who in turn hired a consultant of their choosing, HMMH. We shared our concerns that the obvious conflict of interest that MassCEC has in wanting the project to be “successful” would work against a testing process that had complete integrity. Our fears have been confirmed by several questionable moves; the most blatant being the decision to “suspend” or “abort” the live testing process and allowing HMMH to make “predictions” in the place of continued testing.
Why did we oppose the halt to live testing?
For the very reason that town counsel Talerman provided last night; he informed us that all of the “extrapolations” and “predictions” made by HMMH are not, in his mind, hard enough evidence to formulate any Order of Abatement amendments that would truly protect us from all the noise impacts we have experienced since May of 2012. All of the time and effort expended on “predictions” has been wasted and we remain exposed to continued noise levels that harm our ability to sleep or enjoy our property/home.
So, we are reporting to you, the Board of Selectmen, that we are very disturbed with the fact that Town Planner Bott chose not to forward the Peer Reviews performed by Consultant Ambrose to the Board of Health, and we would appreciate your taking action to demand the release of any information which would support our need for complete relief from the noise issues which we have suffered with since May of 2012.
We would like you also to know that the key to the noise problems we have endured is directly tied to power production levels – and that the talk of wind direction and wind speed is simply in our view a distraction that is preventing any meaningful mitigation. We have tried to express this fact but no one appears to be listening and talk of mitigation always returns to alleged wind speeds which are never documented and an Order of Abatement which is never enforced and KWI often violates.
We should mention here that KWI partner Bradford Cleave’s, son Benjamin, noted during last night’s BOH Public Hearing that there was little to no wind all summer long – this comment flies in the face of the noise levels we have experienced. We seriously question KWI’s ability to be in charge of their own enforcement actions – this method has proven unreliable yet with no repercussions. Perhaps the BOS might review the contract with KWI to see if there is any avenue for effective enforcement as the leave it to the developer to make all the decisions is not working and the effect is continued harm to us.
Thank you for your time and attention.
Doreen and Sean Reilly
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One Comment leave one →
  1. October 24, 2015 7:21 am

    Doug Fine’s (MassDEP) position is cowardly. State Air Pollution laws place the responsibility for regulating air pollution contaminants, of which sound (noise) is prominently defined as a contaminant, primarily in MassDEP’s domain. First MassDEP avoids the risk of law suits against the state by adopting the role of advisor, leaving Kingston’s and the BOH lawyer to assume the full burden of defending the baseless threats of law suits from KWI. Secondly, having approved the methodology to extrapolate, and calculate additional potential violations with mathematical precision from data already collected, Fine announces to the board that such findings do not carry sufficient weight to be included in the mitigation process. This again places Kingston in legal jeopardy should the mitigation order include these expert findings in shutting KWI down independent of wind speed as the findings indicate.

    Air Pollution regulation 310 CMR 7.00 gives MassDEP the authority to regulate noise that not only is injurious to health, but goes on to state that MassDEP can regulate noise that is “Potentially Injurious”.

    Any fair minded reading of the regulations will support the proposition that mathematically predicted violations by expert acousticians are potentially injurious. But, unless Mr. Fine and the MassDEP support this as fact, the town of Kingston is left to face future law suits alone and without the support of state regulators.

    The cowardly position of the MassDEP needs to be challenged and soon. Too many nearby residents are forced to unfairly suffer the burden that comes with the making of electricity with wind.

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