Report on May 22nd ERT Hearing on Human Health Appeal
APPEC witness Stephana Johnston completed her testimony of the day before. The Environmental Review Tribunal heard the full testimony of APPEC witness Ed Kenney.
Examination of Stephana Johnston (cont’d)
Ms. Johnston’s efforts to take care of her health have had some results. One doctor indicated that her problems since the turbines started up could be related to environmental exposure, and he recommended further study. In January this year a doctor with expertise in sleep apnea concluded that her sleep disturbance could not be attributed to apnea. After eliminating other possible causes the doctor noted similarities between Ms. Johnston’s symptoms and stories he has heard of disturbed sleep in others living in areas with wind turbines, and he suggested she leave the house permanently.
Cross-examination of Stephana Johnston
Mr. Bryn Gray, lawyer for Gilead Power, asked about Ms. Johnston’s home in relation to the wind project. Ms. Johnston said her home is surrounded: Eight wind turbines are within 2 km; 18 within a 3-km radius of her home. In all, 25 turbines can be seen from her property if those from the Erie Shores Wind Farm 4 km away are included.
Mr. Gray wanted to know why the first medical record specifically relating to wind farms was in June 2009 if Ms. Johnston’s problems began in December 2008. Ms. Johnston agreed that she did not inform her doctor about pressure in her head, ear problems and sleep problems during a January appointment. However, she did so in March 2009. The omission in the records does not mean it was not reported.
Sylvia Davis, lawyer for the Ministry of the Environment (MOE), asked about the MOE’s 2010 acoustic-monitoring study. She noted that it was inconclusive and that the MOE was to return for more measurements. As far as Ms. Johnston knows, no one from MOE ever came back.
Re-examination of Stephana Johnston
Mr. Wright, one of the panel co-chairs, asked Ms. Johnston what she meant by vibrations. Ms. Johnston said it is her understanding that some vibrations or sound patterns produced by wind turbines are audible and some are not. MOE’s monitoring equipment measures sound in the human audible range and is designed to filter out vibrations on the lower and top ends of the scale.
Ms. Johnston was never asked by Gilead Power or the MOE if she would consent to be examined medically in preparation for the hearing.
Examination of Ed Kenney
Mr. Kenney identified receptor 547 as his home on Wolfe Island. Since June 2009, when the turbines started up, he has suffered from ringing in the ears and disturbed sleep. Mr. Kenney noted the significant changes to what was once a tight-knit community. The wind project has created friction among friends, neighbours, and families. The property across the road from his house hosts three turbines. Mr. Kenney’s sister owns this property.
On numerous occasions after the project started up, the Kenneys contacted the MOE about noise. They were told of the protocol to report problems to the company. As far as Mr. Kenney knows, the MOE never investigated any of their complaints.
In early 2012 the MOE district office in Kingston told the Kenneys that the company planned to conduct sound tests on the closest turbines. The MOE wanted permission to erect equipment on the Kenney’s property in order to monitor the company’s results. The Kenneys did not give their permission. Mr. Kenney thought it doubtful that the MOE had the proper equipment to monitor noise.
In 2008, the same year turbines were erected, the Kenney’s property value assessment increased by 79%. The Kenneys appealed the assessment in a very stressful hearing. The Kenneys are unhappy with the decision and have filed a motion requesting another hearing.
Since the turbines came, Wolfe Island homes have been listed for sale for up to three or four years. Some homes have been taken off the market. Others sell for less than anticipated for well-kept waterfront homes. Mr. Kenney noted that their home was security for the future and there is stress in seeing lifesavings devalued and future plans no longer possible.
Mr. Kenney has a pre-existing medical condition of Type 2 diabetes, but it is under control.
Cross-examination of Ed Kenney
Bryn Gray asked about the proximity of wind turbines. Mr. Kenney said that 3 turbines are within a km, 14 turbines within 2 km, and 27 turbines within 3 km. Did Mr. Kenney not like the visual appearance? Mr. Kenney replied that the turbines did nothing to enhance his property.
Mr. Gray noted the Kenney’s property assessment appeal cited such factors as industrial noise, industrial lighting, industrial traffic, health, viewshed, and degradation of the natural environment. If the tribunal had a finding of harm to health, it would be helpful to Mr. Kenney’s request for an OMB review hearing. Mr. Gray added that Mr. Kenney stands to gain financially.
Sylvia Davis referred Mr. Kenney to the MOE’s 2012 offer to set up monitoring equipment. Mr. Kenney clarified that the MOE did not offer equipment in response to their complaints. To this day no one from the MOE has ever visited their property. The Kenneys have never been told the results of the company’s noise monitoring.
Re-examination of Ed Kenney
Mr. Gillespie asked Mr. Kenney to explain his decisions, as raised during cross-examination, not to take sleep medication or to see a psychiatrist, psychologist or social worker. He said they could not tell him anything more than he already knew. As for noise, how could they change one’s mind on anything like that?
Mr. Kenney was never asked by Gilead Power or the MOE if he would consent to be examined medically in preparation for the hearing.