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Testimony to Kingston BOH

Letter of Doreen Reilly submitted to the Kingston Board of Health on 11/5/12.

Dear Members of the Board of Health

I would respectfully request that Board of Health members understand that my family has been more than patient, and reasonable, with “Independence” wind turbine operator Mr. Ruiz since May of 2012 when the disruptive impacts began to be felt by my family.  Mr. Ruiz has done nothing other than to dismiss my valid complaints, as he describes in his e-mail dated October 31, 2012, as “wildly exaggerated”.  I would like you all to know that the words “disbelief” and “anguish” would be an accurate description of our feelings on so many occasions since May. As I informed all of you during the Board of Health meeting held on October 22, 2012, our lives have been turned upside down.

I must say, for the record, I found the content of Mr. Ruiz’s letter to your Board very condescending, and I take offense to his words.  I can assure every single one of you that I am not making false or “wildly exaggerated” complaints.  My family and I simply want our lives back.  We want our home back.  I want to enjoy my family again.  This issue, the consistent sleep disruption and annoyance, has taken over our lives; it has caused more anxiety than I have ever experienced.  The anxiety not only comes from dealing with the sleep disruptions, annoyance and flicker it comes also from the lack of responsiveness to my complaints.  To not have our experiences be believed or taken seriously only adds to our stress. We find the dismissive and insulting response of Mr. Ruiz only increases the stress of this situation; he has been very disrespectful both in his approach and in his words.

I am not an expert in the field of wind turbine technology or acoustics but I will say that I have learned more than I care to know about the subject matter since May of 2012.  I have no idea how a 400-foot industrial sized wind turbine was ever allowed, or permitted, to be sited so close to a residential neighborhood, my neighborhood.

It should be noted that Mr. Sapir, Mr. Sheehan, Mrs. O’Donnell and my entire family all have been witnesses to the fact that you can hear the Independence turbine inside my home.  As I have testified before, the disturbance is not felt every night, but on those nights you can hear the turbine inside my home it is a noise that you cannot sleep through and on some of those nights the noise does not leave.

I also testified to you on October 22nd that on those occasions when the noise invades our home I cannot enjoy reading a book, my children cannot focus on their schoolwork, our home environment is completely disrupted.  The noise problems are not only affecting our sleep, in fact, we are experiencing a complete disruption of all activities inside our home. The acoustic study done for the project reported in its summary “Project sounds are unlikely to be audible inside any residence.”  The truth of the matter is “project sounds” are, and have been, audible inside my home since May of 2012.  I would have to conclude that the acoustic model used in that study was flawed in some way.  Also, the word “unlikely” that is used in that report is not definitive; it did not say “project sounds would conclusively not be heard”.  My family’s experiences are definitive and conclusive evidence of the fact that the summary in the acoustic study is incorrect.  What was summarized as “unlikely” is in fact happening; the noise disturbance inside our home is very real.

I assure you once again I would not waste my time, or your time, if we did not have a very serious and life altering problem on our hands.  We have lived in our home since 1993.  Our home is located in the R-20 residential zone, and for the record we have never experienced any nuisance related noise issues with the many “sound emitters” that Mr. Ruiz mentions in his letter.  The Waste Water Treatment plant, the MBTA station, the gravel pit, the mall and Route 3 have never been the source of annoyance and sleep disruption.   It is important to note that from approximately 10pm to 5am, when my family is sleeping, there is no annoyance due to noise from any of these places.  I love my home and as I have stated several times before to all of you, Sean and I have worked very hard and are proud of what we have created.  We have three children that have never had issues with sleep disruption or not being able to focus on their schoolwork in the late afternoon and early evening.  Since May, every member of our family has experienced sleep disruption at night and during the day our activities are interrupted and difficult to engage in when the noise invades our home.  Our peace has been stolen from us.

I would like to be very direct and honest in expressing to you that Mr. Ruiz is a businessman and does not care about the health and well-being of my family.  Mr. Ruiz has proven this repeatedly.  His letter to the Kingston Reporter in July, his letter to the Board of Health dated October 22, 2012 and his e-mail dated October 31st are all proof of his dismissive attitude and of his outright rejection of my family’s experiences as real or valid.  Mr. Ruiz has ignored all of my email and phone calls since May of 2012.

You should be aware that I contacted town hall when the impacts first began to disrupt our lives.  I called town hall to ask for help, I wanted to know whom I should turn to. I was told, at that time, that any complaint I had with the Independence turbine needed to be brought to Mr. Ruiz’s attention as the “town has nothing to do with that turbine”. As I testified to you on October 22nd, during that May conversation Mr. Ruiz told me he lived near an airport, so he assured me we would get used to the noise.  When I persisted, Mr. Ruiz told me to purchase fans and air conditioners to help with the phantom noise issue that I was experiencing…his immediate response was to deny that any problems my family were experiencing had anything to do with his turbine and whatever noise we were hearing we would get used to.  This advice is unacceptable and the attitude is disrespectful.

I give each and every one of you my word that we are not opponents of wind turbines. Opposition to wind turbines is not the basis for our complaints.  In fact, we thought the idea of a clean energy project in our town was a wonderful thing…that is until the turbine was turned on in May of 2012. Somehow we believed that the wind turbine was going to be similar in size to the turbine on the expressway into Boston.  In fact, the official press release from the Town of Kingston in September of 2011 stated that the total height of the Independence was going to be 262 feet.  We were never aware that the Independence turbine was going to be 402.5 feet tall.

I can assure you that we are not “wildly exaggerating” or even slightly exaggerating the impacts of either the noise or flicker.  As far as the review of scientific and medical literature conducted by the Mass DEP that Mr. Ruiz points to in order to deny something called “wind turbine syndrome”, I would like to point out we are not claiming to have “wind turbine syndrome” those are not our words.  What we are claiming is that our family has experienced a consistent pattern of disruption from the turbine noise as well as extreme annoyance and headaches from the flicker.  Mr. Tom Bott, our town planner, testified at the October 22nd Board of Health meeting.   He also brought to the attention of the board the Mass DEP DPH Wind Turbine Health Report.  Mr. Bott used the report for one reason, to deny that our complaints are valid.  I would like you to know that since October 22nd,  I have learned that the Mass DEP DPH Report also includes the following information:

  • “Wind turbines can produce unwanted sound (referred to as noise) during operation (p. ES-4).
  • “In other words, it is possible that noise from some wind turbines can cause sleep disruption. (p. ES-6)
  • “It is acknowledged that noise from wind turbines can be annoying to some and associated with some reported health effects (e.g., sleep disturbance).  (p. 29)
  • “The epidemiological studies indicate that noise and/ or vibration from wind turbines has been noted as causing sleep disruption.  (p. 30)
  • “Given the effects of sleep deprivation on health and well-being, including problems with mood and cognition, it is possible that cognitive and mood complaints and other medical or psychological issues associated with sleep loss can stem from living in immediate proximity to wind turbines, if the turbines disrupt sleep.  (p. 32-33)

These conclusions and observations represent a very accurate description of what my family has been experiencing.  My question is:  Why have Mr. Ruiz and Mr. Bott not informed the board of this important information found in the Mass DEP DPH report? Why have they withheld information that lends credibility to my family’s experiences?

I work in the health care field, and I am well aware that continual sleep disruption is a contributor to other health issues, and for that reason I do not believe that we should be further exposed to this continuing situation.  Our health and well-being is being compromised.

Although Mr. Ruiz dismisses shadow flicker as simply a moving shadow, I can assure you that flicker does in fact give you an immediate headache, the flicker makes you want to get out, to flee the house!  The suggestion by Mr. Ruiz that we should “move away” from the flicker when it occurs or to have a tree or shrub planted to block the shadowing is unacceptable and outrageous.  I would like to mention that the flicker occurs in every room in my home as it reflects off of a neighbor’s home; we are experiencing the flicker impact both in the rear and in the front of our home.

In conclusion, I respectfully submit to the Board of Health that the sound level of the Independence as well as the shadow flicker effects are severe in nature and have had an unacceptable and negative impact on our health and well-being.

Common sense – and state law as I understand it – dictates that if any operation is adversely affecting a resident’s health and well-being action must be taken to “clear or abate the nuisance”.  I am respectfully asking the Board of Health to use your authority to do so. My family should not be losing sleep and unable to relax or focus due to noise from the turbine nor should we have to experience flicker in our home.  I have consulted my Physician who has assured me that sleep disturbance is a most important health concern for any family.

The final thought I will share with you, as a result of reading Mr. Ruiz’s demands for proof and documentation, is that it is not my family that should have to prove my complaints as scientifically proven rather it should be Mr. Ruiz that is asked to prove that his wind turbine is not the source of whatever dynamics are in play that allows noise to repeatedly bombard and invade our home.  Our home used to be our sanctuary, our safe haven and the operation of the Independence turbine has stolen that from us…yet Mr. Ruiz demands we are obligated to prove the reality we have been living with for the last six months.  With all due respect, I think that demand from him is upside down and inside out.

I sincerely appreciate all of your consideration as well as the compassion you have shown for my family.  I cannot stress to you enough how badly we need your help to return our home environment to a place that is safe and free from this nuisance. We do not want, and should not have, to leave our home of twenty years.

Thank you for your time and attention to our plea for help.

Sincerely,

Doreen and Sean Reilly

Leland Road

Kingston, Ma

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