Report on May 16th ERT Hearing on Health Appeal
The Environmental Review Tribunal heard the testimony of Helen Fraser, who used to live near the Melancthon project, and of a pre-turbine witness, County resident Dr. Karen Hatchard.
Examination of Helen Fraser
Mrs. Fraser identified receptor #134 on the Ministry of the Environment map as her former home of 31 years. She confirmed that turbines are located to the west, north and south in a “C” pattern, with the closest 423 m away.
Both Mrs. Fraser and her husband had pre-existing medical conditions. However, their symptoms noticeably increased after the project started up. Mrs. Fraser’s fibromyalgia worsened as did her chronic fatigue. She felt a constant tickling in her ear as though something were crawling around inside. A “strobing,” or flicker, effect coming into the home caused nausea and debilitating headaches. On calm nights, Mrs. Fraser could feel her heart beating to the pulse of the blades.
Mrs. Fraser noted that the turbines rotated according to wind direction and that the pain was at its worst when they displayed a side profile. They made a “horn” sort of noise and a popping sound that was disruptive.
Initially the Frasers had no idea why they were feeling so unwell. However, they began to notice that their symptoms disappeared whenever they left home, and returned when they came back. In 2006, on a trip to the east coast, they were symptom-free for 25 days. Within 24 hours of returning home the symptoms recurred.
Ms. Fraser described leading a normal life in the country until the turbines started up. Then their social life was dramatically altered. Noise made it impossible to use the deck outside. People asked how they could live with the noise. Mr. Fraser moved into a basement room without windows so he could get sleep.
A year or so after the project became operational the Frasers accepted a buy-out from Canadian Hydro, the project developer. They left their home in 2007. Mrs. Fraser said they never would have left otherwise—they were forced out of their home. Their choice was staying and being ill or moving and getting their health back. Moving away from the turbines was really their only course of action.
Cross-Examination of Helen Fraser
Sam Rogers, yet another lawyer for Gilead, spent a tedious few hours reviewing Mrs. Fraser’s medical records from 2001 to the present time. His questioning confirmed that Mrs. Fraser’s chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia dated from 1990. More than once, Mrs. Fraser said that symptoms were more severe when she lived near wind turbines.
Sylvia Davis, lawyer for the Ministry of the Environment, noted that Mrs. Fraser could see only a few turbines from her house. Mrs. Fraser said that she could not avoid looking at them because they were so close.
Re-examination of Mrs. Fraser
Mr. Gillespie asked Mrs. Fraser about two people on her road and seven others in the area who have moved away. She also knows other people struggling with conditions from turbines who cannot afford to move.
Examination of Dr. Karen Hatchard
Dr. Hatchard, a chiropractor, said that because of her interest in health she began reading on the subject of turbines. She learned that people with motion sensitivity and vertigo seem to be affected more. Dr. Hatchard has been prone to vertigo since youth. When she visited Wolfe Island, flickering caused a vertigo effect and made her feel light-headed. She is concerned for her well-being and about her ability to continue working to support herself and her family.
Dr. Hatchard confirmed that she lives in the vicinity of Ostrander Point and she often walks near there.
Cross-Examination of Dr. Hatchard
Gilead lawyer Bryn Gray asked why concerns noted on Dr. Hatchard’s witness information form were not raised during her annual physical examination. Dr. Hatchard said she has learned to manage her health. She disagreed with Mr. Gray that hearing sensitivity and vertigo are two different things. She said that if her hearing is affected this can cause a vertigo attack.