Friday, April 02, 2010

Illinoians fight wind farm, say it hurts their health

A group of residents who live near an Illinois wind farm are not happy with their new living conditions and have sued DeKalb County and the 75 landowners who leased land for the 126 turbines. "It's gone. The country way of living is gone," Susan Flex, who lives with her husband and their nine children in Waterman in DeKalb County, told Julie Wernau of the Chicago Tribune.

Many of the angry locals say the 400-foot tall turbines harm their health. They blame the noise from turbines for sleep loss and the strobe-like flashes produced by the whirling blades in sunlight for everything from vertigo to migraine headaches, Wernau reports. In December, an expert panel, which included doctors hired by the American Wind Energy Association and the Canadian Wind Energy Association, concluded there is "no evidence that the audible or sub-audible sounds emitted by wind turbines have any direct adverse physiological effects." But Dr. Nina Pierpont, a board-certified pediatrician in Malone, N.Y., who has spent the last four years studying so-called Wind Turbine Syndrome, told Wernau not enough studies have been conducted to rule out any connection between turbines and health complaints.

NextEra Energy Resources, which owns the wind farm, is seeking to dismiss the suit it says is based on "vague allegations of hypothetical harms." DeKalb County has a population of just over 100,000 and is more densely populated than most areas hosting wind farms. "As you move to more heavily populated areas, you would see more — I don't want to say opposition — but you would certainly have more people having questions and issues that needed to be resolved," Steve Stengel, a spokesman for turbine-owner NextEra , told Wernau. Local Steve Rosene knows the groups' opposition to the wind farm might not be popular. "This is a very politically correct thing going on right now, and to say you're opposed to a renewable energy source is like saying you don't like mom and apple pie," he said. "I used to go out in my front yard in a swing and just watch the sunset." (Read more; story also includes a somewhat unnerving video of the effects of turbine-blade shadows)

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