Wind Turbine Blade Throw: Senate Inquiry Gives Chance to Hammer Insanely Dangerous Setback Rules: Submissions Extended to 4 May
The number of cases involving collapsing turbines and flying blades (aka “component liberation”) has become so common that, if we were a tad cynical, we would go so far to suggest the possibility of some kind of pattern, along the lines proffered by Mr Bond’s nemesis, Goldfinger: “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times it’s enemy action”.
Turbines have been crashing back to earth in frightening numbers – from Brazil – to Kansas – Pennsylvania – Germany and Scotland – Devon and everywhere in between: Ireland has been ‘luckier’ than most (see our posts here and here).
Then there’s the wild habit of these little ‘eco-friendlies’ unshackling their 10 tonne blades, and chucking them for miles in all directions – as seen in the video below – and see our posts here and here and here and here.
In one serious scientific study into the distances blades are likely to travel during “component liberation” – covering over 37 “component liberation” events – blade throw distances of up to 1,600 m were recorded: that study was completed in 2007 – there have been many more bids for blade “freedom” since then (up to 2014 there have been 309 ‘incidents’, as detailed below).
In Australia, for “planning” purposes, the various states have a variety of “set-back” distances between wind turbines and residential homes – said (laughably) to avoid noise impacts: in South Australia it’s 1km.
For a few years the Victorians set it at 2km – but, before 2007 there was no set-back required and plenty of homes ended up with turbines within 600m. However, there is no such limit placed on the distance between roads and turbines.
The eco-fascist nutjobs – that have just taken charge in Victoria – haveslashed the set-back distances to 1km – further demonstrating their naked stupidity and rancid hatred of country people. Under Victoria’s new ‘rules’, residential homes are now well within the throw zone; with no set-back from roads at all, road-users are sitting ducks.
With whole (50m) blades travelling up to 200m, bigger heavier chunks likely to travel well over 300m and the smaller pieces (referred to in the study linked above as “10% blade fragments”) flying out to distances of up to 1,600m (for a 10% blade fragment – think 5m long blade chunks weighing a tonne or so) – the current setback rule in South Australia – and what the eco-fascists just gave Victoria – places wind farm neighbours well and truly within the “throw zone”.
And with those numbers in mind, think about whole blades – or substantial chunks of them – being flung around with gay abandon the next time you drive past the turbines at Cullerin and Macarthur, some of which are less than 300m from the road you’re on.
Fortunately, when it comes to the risks posed by flying turbine blades, it’s the complete disregard paid to health and safety by planning departments and the risible “rules” written for them by their wind industry Overlords – that is squarely in the sights of the Senate Select Committee, its terms of reference including the following:
(1) That a select committee, to be known as the Select Committee on Wind Turbines be established to inquire into and report on the application of regulatory governance and economic impact of wind turbines by 24 June 2015, with particular reference to:
(d) the implementation of planning processes in relation to wind farms, including the level of information available to prospective wind farm hosts;
(e) the adequacy of monitoring and compliance governance of wind farms;
(f) the application and integrity of national wind farm guidelines;
(i) any related matter.
For those living in, or driving through, the wind turbine blade “throw zone” now is you chance to hammer the so-called ‘standards’ and planning ‘controls’ that have (or will) put you in it.
Why not drop a submission to the Senate Inquiry along those lines? Note that the opportunity to make submissions to the Committee ends on 4 May 2015. See the link here.
To help with your submissions, we’ve popped up a fine piece of work put together by the Caithness Windfarm Information Forum below. Consider, be afraid and let your Senators know just how insanely dangerous this eco-fascist driven nightmare has all become.
Summary of Wind Turbine Accident data to 31 December 2014 (Download as a PDF)
These accident statistics are copyright Caithness Windfarm Information Forum 2014. The data may be used or referred to by groups or individuals, provided that the source (Caithness Windfarm Information Forum) is acknowledged and our URL www.caithnesswindfarms.co.uk quoted at the same time.Caithness Windfarm Information Forum is not responsible for the accuracy of Third Party material or references.
The detailed table includes all documented cases of wind turbine related accidents and incidents which could be found and confirmed through press reports or official information releases up to 31 December 2014. CWIF believe that this compendium of accident information may be the most comprehensive available anywhere.
Data in the detailed table is by no means fully comprehensive – CWIF believe that it may only be the “tip of the iceberg” in terms of numbers of accidents and their frequency. Indeed on 11 December 2011 the Daily Telegraph reported that RenewableUK confirmed that there had been 1500 wind turbine accidents and incidents in the UK alone in the previous 5 years. Data here reports only 142UK accidents from 2006-2010 and so the figures here may only represent 9% of actual accidents.
The data does however give an excellent cross-section of the types of accidents which can and do occur, and their consequences.With few exceptions, before about 1997 only data on fatal accidents has been found.
The trend is as expected – as more turbines are built, more accidents occur. Numbers of recorded accidents reflect this, with an average of16 accidents per year from 1995-99 inclusive; 48 accidents per year from 2000-2004 inclusive; 108 accidents per year from 2005-09 inclusive, and 155 accidents per year from 2010-14 inclusive.
This general trend upward in accident numbers is predicted to continue to escalate unless HSE make some significant changes – in particular to protect the public by declaring a minimum safe distance between new turbine developments and occupied housing and buildings.
In the UK, the HSE do not currently have a database of wind turbine failures on which they can base judgements on the reliabilityand risk assessments for wind turbines. Please refer to http://www.hse.gov.uk/research/rrpdf/rr968.pdf.
This is because the wind industry “guarantees confidentiality” of incidents reported see http://www.renewableuk.com/en/our-work/health-and-safety/incidents–alerts.cfm. No other energy industry works with such secrecy regarding incidents. The wind industry should be no different, and the sooner RenewableUK makes its database available to the HSE and public, the better. The truth is out there, however RenewableUK don’t like to admit it.
Some countries are finally accepting that industrial wind turbines can pose a significant public health and safety risk. The Scottish government has proposed increasing the separation distance between wind farms and local communities from 2km to 2.5km (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-26579733) though in reality the current 2km separation distance is often shamefully ignored during the planning process.
Our data clearly shows that blade failure is the most common accident with wind turbines, closely followed by fire. This is in agreement with a recent survey by GCube, the largest provider of insurance to renewable energy schemes. Their recent survey reported that the most common type of accident is indeed blade failure, and that the two most common causes of accidents are fire and poor maintenance. http://www.gcube-insurance.com/press/gcube-top-5-us-wind-energy-insurance-claims- report/
Data on the detailed list is presented chronologically. It can be broken down as follows:
Number of accidents
Total number of accidents: 1662
Number of fatal accidents: 110
Of the 151 fatalities:Please note: There are more fatalities than accidents as some accidents have caused multiple fatalities.
- 90 were wind industry and direct support workers (divers, construction, maintenance, engineers, etc), or small turbine owner /operators.
- 62 were public fatalities, including workers not directly dependent on the wind industry (e.g. transport workers). 17 bus passengers were killed in one single incident in Brazil in March 2012; 4 members of the public were killed in an aircraft crash in May 2014.
130 accidents regarding human injury are documented.
107 accidents involved wind industry or construction/maintenance workers, and a further 23 involved members of the public or workers not directly dependent on the wind industry (e.g. firefighters, transport workers). Six of these injuries to members of the public were in the UK.
Since 2012, 52 incidents of wind turbines impacting upon human health are recorded.
Since 2012, human health incidents and adverse impact upon human health have been included.
These were previously filed under “miscellaneous” but CWIF believe that they deserve a category of their own. Incidents include reports of ill-heath and effects due to turbine noise, shadow flicker, etc. Such reports are predicted to increase significantly as turbines are increasingly approved and built in unsuitable locations, close to people’s homes.
By far the biggest number of incidents found was due to blade failure. “Blade failure” can arise from a number of possible sources, and results in either whole blades or pieces of blade being thrown from the turbine. A total of 309 separate incidences were found:
Pieces of blade are documented as travelling up to one mile. In Germany, blade pieces have gone through the roofs and walls of nearby buildings. This is why CWIF believe that there should be a minimum distance of at least 2km between turbines and occupied housing, in order to adequately address public safety and other issues including noise and shadow flicker.
Fire is the second most common accident cause in incidents found. Fire can arise from a number of sources – and some turbine types seem more prone to fire than others. A total of 242 fire incidents were found.
The biggest problem with turbine fires is that, because of the turbine height, the fire brigade can do little but watch it burn itself out. While this may be acceptable in reasonably still conditions, in a storm it means burning debris being scattered over a wide area, with obvious consequences. In dry weather there is obviously a wider-area fire risk, especially for those constructed in or close to forest areas and/or close to housing. Three fire accidents have badly burned wind industry workers.
From the data obtained, this is the third most common accident cause, with 157 instances found.
“Structural failure” is assumed to be major component failure under conditions which components should be designed to withstand. This mainly concerns storm damage to turbines and tower collapse. However, poor quality control, lack of maintenance and component failure can also be responsible.
While structural failure is far more damaging (and more expensive) than blade failure, the accident consequences and risks to human health are most likely lower, as risks are confined to within a relatively short distance from the turbine. However, as smaller turbines are now being placed on and around buildings including schools, the accident frequency is expected to rise.
35 reports of ice throw were found. Some are multiple incidents. These are listed here unless they have caused human injury, in which case they are included under “human injury” above.
These are indeed only a very small fraction of actual incidences – a report* published in 2003 reported 880 icing events between 1990 and 2003 in Germany alone. 33% of these were in the lowlands and on the coastline.Ice throw has been reported to 140m. Some Canadian turbine sites have warning signs posted asking people to stay at least 305m from turbines during icy conditions.
Additionally one report listed for 2005 includes 94 separate incidences of ice throw and two reports from 2006 include a further 27 such incidences. The 2014 entry refers to multiple YouTube videos and confirmation that ice sensors do not work.
There have been 137 reported accidents – including a 45m turbine section ramming through a house while being transported, a transporter knocking a utility pole through a restaurant, and various turbine parts falling off and blocking major highways. Transport fatalities and human injuries are included separately. Most accidents involve turbine sections falling from transporters, though turbine sections have also been lost at sea, along with a £50M barge. Transport is the single biggest cause of public fatalities.
Environmental damage (including bird deaths)
162 cases of environmental damage have been reported – the majority since 2007. This is perhaps due to a change in legislation or new reporting requirement. All involved damage to the site itself, or reported damage to or death of wildlife. 57 instances reported here include confirmed deaths of protected species of bird.Deaths, however, are known to be far higher. At the AltamontPass windfarm alone, 2400 protected golden eagles have been killed in 20 years, and about 10,000 protected raptors (Dr Smallwood, 2004). In Germany, 32 protected white tailed eagles were found dead, killed by wind turbines (BrandenburgState records). In Australia, 22 critically endangered Tasmanian eagles were killed by a single windfarm (Woolnorth). Further detailed information can be found at: www.iberica2000.org/Es/Articulo.asp?Id=3071 and at: www.iberica2000.org/Es/Articulo.asp?Id=1875
- 600,000 bats were estimated to be killed by US wind turbines in 2012 alone.
- 1,500 birds are estimated to be killed per year by the MacArthur wind farm in Australia, 500 of which are raptors.
328 miscellaneous accidents are also present in the data. Component failure has been reported here if there has been no consequential structural damage. Also included are lack of maintenance, electrical failure (not led to fire or electrocution), etc. Construction and construction support accidents are also included, also lightning strikes when a strike has not resulted in blade damage or fire. A separate 1996 report** quotes 393 reports of lightning strikes from 1992 to 1995 in Germany alone, 124 of those direct to the turbine, the rest are to electrical distribution network.
Caithness Windfarm Information Forum 31 December 2014
* (“A Statistical Evaluation of Icing Failures in Germany‟s „250 MW Wind‟ Programme – Update 2003, M Durstwitz, BOREAS VI 9-11 April 2003 Pyhätunturi, Finland. )
** (Data from WMEP database: taken from report “External Conditions for Wind Turbine Operation – Results from the German „250 MW Wind‟ Programme”, M Durstewitz, et al, European Union Wind Energy Conference, Goeteborg, May 20-24, 1996)