Report on May 14th ERT Hearing on Health Appeal
The Environmental Review Tribunal heard the continuing testimony of Monica Elmes and the full testimony of Mike Davey, both APPEC witnesses.
Examination of Monica Elmes (contd.)
APPEC Lawyer Eric Gillespie asked about pre-existing medical conditions in the Elmes family. Ms. Elmes said her health, as well as her husband’s and 11-year-old son’s, was excellent before the Talbot wind project began operations. Since then her husband Neil has suffered from sleep disturbance, fatigue, and vertigo leading to lower work productivity, less enjoyment of life, and less tolerance for stress at home and work. Her son’s asthma has returned after a four-year absence. The medical advice her family has received is to consider relocation and to take medication for high blood pressure and vertigo.
The Ministry of Environment (MOE) has responded to Ms. Elmes’ complaints by sending field officers without equipment for measuring compliance with noise limits, by scheduling visits during business hours despite reported night-time noise, and by advising her to continue to file complaints.
Ms. Elmes said she is aware of 22 other project residents who have also complained to MOE in spite of living outside 40-dbA computer-modeled noise contour lines. Some have sought relief by installing air conditioning, buying waterfalls that emit white noise, sleeping in their basements, or even abandoning their homes.
Cross-Examination of Ms. Elmes
Gilead Power Lawyer Bryn Gray confirmed that Ms. Elmes lives 1,776 m from the closest wind turbine, within 2 km of two other turbines, and within 2.5 km of two more. She dislikes the views from a house with turbines on three sides. As spokesperson for the Chatham-Kent Wind Action Group, Ms. Elmes has written on the harmful effects of wind development on wildlife, property values, and rural character. She believes that wind projects are a waste of taxpayer and ratepayer money, wind turbines are inefficient generators of electricity, and wind development is a scam. She feels it is “criminal for the government to proceed with development in light of health effects.”
MOE lawyer Sylvia Davis confirmed that Ms. Elmes has not been given a written diagnosis that her own and her family’s symptoms are caused by wind turbines.
Re-examination of Ms. Elmes
Eric Gillespie asked Ms. Elmes why she has a record of only one medical appointment. She said she seldom sought medical care even for injuries like her current poison ivy rash and broken toe.
Examination of Mike Davey
Prior to wind project construction Mr. Davey had lost a kidney to cancer surgery, displayed diabetic symptoms, and developed chronic kidney disease from high blood pressure. But he was in recovery until two wind projects were constructed and started operating in 2009 and 2010. His health problems now consist of sleep disturbance, high blood pressure, tinnitus, memory and concentration loss, chest pressure and palpitations, muscle and bone pain, and recurrence of diabetes. Besides medication he seeks relief by sleeping in the basement, in his car, or outside, including on one occasion a ditch.
An August 2012 MOE study of noise at Mr. Davey’s home found an average sound of 44.3 dbA, though much higher levels were recorded between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. It concluded that the wind turbines are in compliance if other noises are factored out, but it recommended a follow-up study. Nine months later, no such study has taken place.
Mr. Davey has sought medical attention but has found doctors unwilling to acknowledge a connection between his symptoms and wind turbines. A sleep centre diagnosed sleep apnea, though he had not suffered from it while bedridden and recovering from cancer surgery. He was twice denied a cortisol test, a screening procedure that will be used in Health Canada’s study of wind turbine health effects.
Mr. Davey is not a member of the Chatham-Kent Wind Action Group and has not written letters opposing wind development.
Cross-examination of Mr. Davey
Gilead Power lawyer Darrel Cruz led Mr. Davey through a long list of the medical procedures and medications he has received. Mr. Cruz pointed to discrepancies between the records and Mr. Davey’s statements, and suggested that Mr. Davey’s diabetes is related to his weight, chest pains are due to reduced blood flow to his heart, and muscle and bone pain are caused by osteoarthritis. Other conditions were not confirmed by medical reports.
MOE’s Ms. Davis asked why Mr. Davey had connected his symptoms with wind turbines. He said it was due to his own and a neighbour’s sleep disturbance after the turbines started. His subsequent research made him think that his other symptoms are related to low-frequency or infrasound.
When asked how he generally feels about wind turbines, Mr. Davey said he likes their appearance but is concerned about the value of his property and its salability because of health effects.
Re-examination of Mr. Davey
Mr. Gillespie confirmed that Mr. Davey lives 747 m from a wind turbine in the Talbot wind project (2010) and is 2.4 km away from the Boralex project (2009). He reviewed Mr. Davey’s medical history with respect to the start up of each project and established the coincidental chronology.