Scotland’s Toxic Shock: Wind Farms Poisoning Neighbours
Some time back, in our post “The Breakout” we talked about just how sick and tired we all are of crippling wind power driven electricity prices, how those unfortunates stuck with giant fans are sick and constantly tired as a result of incessant and debilitating low-frequency turbine noise – and how the world is growing tired of the nauseating stream of wind industry corruption, lies and deceit.
Adverse interference with water tables is just another “wonderful” feature of “eco-friendly” wind farms. The largest turbines require a steel reinforced concrete base of around 400 m³.
The base itself – depending on the rock strata – for 3MW turbines will be set up to 30 m below the surface and – if the soil is unstable and rock anchors are required – reinforced concrete pillars are drilled up to 90 m below the surface and literally screwed into the rock strata. In either event, there will be obvious disturbance of – and interference with – underground water or streams percolating underground.
Wind power outfits routinely lie about the impact of their giant fans on groundwater. One of them – Scottish Power – was caught out in Bonnie Scotland not only poisoning the local inhabitants drinking from their water supply – the water supply it polluted – but lying and obfuscating in classic wind weasel fashion about the harm that it is causing to human health (see our post here).
Since then, the list of environmental havoc caused by wind farms across Scotland has grown to such proportions as to be fairly called an unmitigated ecological disaster. Here’s the Sunday Post cataloging just some of the trail of toxic destruction caused by the roll-out of wind power across the Highlands.
Special Investigation: Toxic wind turbines
23 March 2014
Damning evidence of wind farms polluting the Scottish countryside can today be revealed by The Sunday Post.
Scotland’s environmental watchdog has probed more than 100 incidents involving turbines in just six years, including diesel spills, dirty rivers, blocked drains and excessive noise.
Alarmingly, they also include the contamination of drinking water and the indiscriminate dumping of waste, with warning notices issued to a handful of energy giants.
The revelations come just a week after our investigation showed £1.8 billion in Government subsidies have been awarded to operators to build turbines since Alex Salmond took office in 2007.
Anti-wind farm campaigners yesterday insisted Scotland’s communities are now “under siege” and demanded an independent inquiry into the environmental damage.
Murdo Fraser MSP, convener of Holyrood’s Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee, said: “I am both surprised and concerned by the scale of these incidents.
“The fact there were more than 100 complaints is a dismal record. This should serve as a wake-up call that wind energy is not as clean and green as is being suggested.” He added: “What’s worse is that the current Scottish Government seems to have an obsession about wind power and the expansion in the number of turbines shows no signs of relenting any time soon.”
Promotion of green energy, particularly the growth of onshore and off-shore wind farms, has been one of the SNP’s key policies since 2007.
The Scottish Government’s target is to generate the equivalent of 100% of the country’s electricity consumption, and 11% of heat demand, from renewables by 2020.
In recent years, ministers have invested heavily in the sector, insisting Scotland has a quarter of all of Europe’s wind energy potential.
But wind power is becoming increasingly unpopular, with giant turbines now scattered across much of the Scottish countryside.
There are now 219 operational wind farms in Scotland, with at least 2,400 turbines between them.
Moray has the most sites, with 20 in operation, while Orkney has the most turbines, with 600 across the archipelago, although the majority are owned by farmers and other individuals.
Now, we can reveal the Scottish Environment Protection Agency has investigated 130 ‘pollution reports’ connected to wind farms or turbines over the past six years. In June 2012, elevated levels of the banned insecticide Dieldrin were found in samples from a private drinking water supply in Aberdeenshire.
A redacted SEPA report, obtained under Freedom of Information, states: “It was noted a wind turbine had recently been erected by the nearby farmer.”
Run-off from the construction of a wind farm near Loch Fyne in February 2012 caused concern that fish had stopped feeding, with SEPA officers discovering a burn was “running brown” and that “a noticeable slick on Loch Fyne was visible”.
In another incident in November 2011, 1,000 litres of oil leaked from a turbine at the Clyde wind farm in Abington, Lanarkshire, resulting in an emergency clean-up operation.
Warning letters have been sent by the environment agency to a number of operators, including Siemens, after another fuel spill at the same 152-turbine site four months later.
A report on that incident states: “Siemens…maintained it was under control. However…operators who then visited the area did not see any action being taken and fuel ponding at the base of the generator”.
A warning was issued to Scottish and Southern Energy in February 2011 after the Tombane burn, near the Griffin wind farm in Perthshire, turned yellow as a result of poor drainage.
The same firm was sent another letter in June that year after SEPA found high levels of silt in a burn near a wind farm in Elvanfoot, Lanarkshire.
Officers also then discovered “significant damage” to 50 metres of land and found “the entire area had been stripped of vegetation” as a result of unauthorized work to divert water.
Other incidents investigated since 2007 include odours, excessive noise from turbines and heavy goods vehicles and the indiscriminate dumping of waste and soil.
Dr John Constable, director of the Renewable Energy Foundation, a charity that publishes data on the energy sector, said: “The new information from SEPA deepens concerns about the corrupting effect of overly generous subsidies to wind power. Many will wonder whether wind companies are just too busy counting their money to take proper care of the environment.”
Linda Holt, spokeswoman for action group Scotland Against Spin, said: “A lot of environmentalists actually oppose wind farms for reasons like this. If you go to wind farms they are odd, eerie, places that drive away wildlife, never mind people. The idea they are environmentally-friendly is not true — they can be hostile. We have always suspected they can do great harm to the landscape and now we have proof.”
Officials at SEPA stressed not all 130 complaints were found to be a direct result of wind farms, with some caused by “agricultural and human activities” near sites and others still unsubstantiated.
A spokesman added: “While a number of these complaints have been in connection with individual wind farms these are generally during the construction phase of the development and relate to instances of increased silt in watercourses as a result of run-off from the site. SEPA, alongside partner organisations, continues to actively engage with the renewable energy industry to ensure best practice is followed and measures put in place to mitigate against any impact on the local water environment.”
Joss Blamire, senior policy manager at Scottish Renewables, insisted the “biggest threat” to the countryside is climate change and not wind farms. He added: “Onshore wind projects are subject to rigorous environmental assessments. We work closely with groups, including SEPA, the RSPB and Scottish Natural Heritage to ensure the highest conservation and biodiversity standards are met.”
The revelations come just months after evidence emerged of contamination in the water supply to homes in the shadow of Europe’s largest wind farm.
People living near Whitelee, which has 215 turbines, complained of severe vomiting and diarrhoea with water samples showing high readings of E. Coli and other coliform bacteria.
Tests carried out between May 2010 and April last year by local resident Dr Rachel Connor, a retired clinical radiologist, showed only three out of 36 samples met acceptable standards.
Operators Scottish Power denied causing the pollution, but admitted not warning anyone that drinking water from 10 homes in Ayrshire was, at times, grossly contaminated.
Dr Connor said: “I would expect this likely contamination of drinking water must be happening all over Scotland. If there is not an actual cover-up, then there is probably complacency to the point of negligence by developers and statutory authorities.”
According to Scottish Renewable’s head spin doctor, Joss Blamire, the real threat to peoples’ health is “climate change”. Try telling that to the Whitelee wind farm’s victims – suffering severe vomiting and diarrhea caused by E. Coli and other coliform bacteria.
Much to the annoyance of the likes of Joss Blamire, Dr Rachel Connor has done precisely what competent and caring medicos do: she’s examined the evidence, analysed the data and concluded that peoples’ health is suffering as a direct result of water contamination caused by wind farms.
Built on subsidies and lies, wrapped in half-truths, peopled by spin doctors, bullies and thugs, and toxic to the point of making people violently ill – the wind industry represents the greatest economic and environmental fraud of all time. This insanity must end now. In Australia, that means an end to the mandatory RET – the largest transfer of wealth from the poorest to the richest in the history of the Commonwealth (seeour post here). And all that subsidy and suffering for no measurable environmental benefit.
UK’s Wind Industry Buys British Medical Association; Aims to Silence Medicos
In an all too familiar tale, the British Medical Association has been co-opted by the wind industry and is now just another advocate for the great wind power fraud. The same has happened in Australia with the:
- Australian Medical Association (see our posts here and here andhere and here);
- Public Health Association; (see our post here) and
- National Health & Medical Research Council (see our posts here andhere and here).
What’s so insidious about all this, is that Medical Practitioners swear upon an ancient oath that says – among other things – they will “act for the good of their patients” and “do no harm”. Fair enough.
That edict seems to suggest that medicos as a group should be quick to investigate ANY public health issue where the activities of a few are causing physical harm to many; and very slow to dismiss as “wind farm wing nuts”, “climate change deniers”, “NIMBYS” etc those who have the misfortune of suffering from turbine noise induced sleep deprivation and associated health effects. So far, so ethical.
Try as we might, we couldn’t find anything in that oath to suggest that doctors are meant to take any particular line on “renewable” energy, let alone any endorsement that medicos should be out spruiking for the wind industry, while ignoring the suffering of wind farm neighbours. But that’s what they’re doing with our AMA – and the BMA have just grabbed the same rotten baton.
Now, it’s one thing to fall in love with giant fans – strangely, the enamoured never live within a bull’s roar of a wind farm – but it’s quite another to use your peak professional association to ridicule and vilify the victims. Here’s The Sunday Times on a brewing backlash over the pro-wind power stance taken by the BMA.
Ill Wind Blows over BMA’s energy stance
The Sunday Times
6 July 2014
The British Medical Association (BMA) is facing a backlash from doctors and anti-wind farm campaigners in Scotland who claim the body is not doing enough to investigate the impact of giant wind turbines on public health.
Homeowners who live within a few miles of wind turbines have complained that the whirring of blades causes chronic sleep deprivation. Others insist that headaches and nausea are linked to the low-level hum generated by turbines.
The European Platform Against Windfarms (EPAW) has been lobbying the BMA to monitor the health of patients – with the help of GP’s – who live in close proximity to wind farms.
However, at a meeting of BMA representatives in Harrogate last month, the body was urged to support renewables on the basis it will help mitigate the effects of climate change.
It was suggested that any investments held by the BMA be transferred “from energy companies whose primary business relied upon fossil fuels to those providing renewable energy sources” and that the body transfers to electricity suppliers who are “100% renewable”.
The move has angered some doctors who accused senior BMA officials of “ignoring” pleas to address a potential public health impact of onshore wind farms.
A spokeswoman for the BMA rejected the claims last week, insisting EPAW had made contact after a deadline for submissions to the meeting had passed. She said that although the meeting of representatives recommended investing in renewables, the BMA does not make direct investments.
However Susan Crosthwaite, an EPAW spokeswoman, said: “That a vote was subsequently taken at the meeting to divest from fossil fuels and invest in renewable energy without members having had access to the information we sent raises an issue of conflict of interests. Since May, attempts were made to have information given to members concerning adverse health effects of turbines. These attempts failed.”
Dr Angela Armstrong, a GP from Wigtown in Dumfriesshire, said: “As a BMA member I was distressed to hear that our president has ignored pleas to ask doctors to monitor the health of patients living near turbines in view of the ever increasing evidence that there are significant health implications.”
Studies have concluded that noise emitted by wind turbines can affect nearby residents. In Scotland, planning guidance is for turbines to be at least 1.24 miles from residential homes.
A spokeswoman for BMA Scotland said: “The BMA is happy to consider any motions submitted by members for debate to the annual conference – the policy-making body of the BMA. If a member of the BMA wishes our representatives to consider a motion to assess the health impact of wind farms, then there are clear protocols for submitting motions to the agenda committee.”
The Sunday Times
So, the BMA is headed up by a bunch of starry-eyed intellectual infants, seeking to announce their “green” credentials to the world by divesting from fossil fuel generators and cuddling up to giant fans, instead.
A nanosecond’s research would allow these deluded doctors to reach the sound (read “only”) conclusion that wind power is not a substitute for conventional generation sources, requiring 100% of its capacity to be backed up 100% of the time (see our posts here and here and here andhere and here and here and here and here).
As wind power can never displace conventional sources of generation, it cannot reduce CO2 emissions in the electricity sector.
And, indeed, all the evidence points to the contrary: adding wind power to a coal/gas fired grid increases CO2 emissions (see this European paper here; this Irish paper here; this English paper here; and this Dutch study here).
Coal and gas thermal plants – and the Brits have plenty of them – end up burning more coal or gas, not less: so much for doctors “saving the planet”.
There is, of course, a base-load generation source that the Brits have used for years that doesn’t emit a whiff of CO2 in operation, but don’t expect the BMA to come out swinging in favour of nuclear power, any time soon: their members would have to pull the “No Nukes” stickers off the back windows of their Volvos, for a start. It might also grate with some of their other woolly-headed ideology.
Last month, Ohio infuriated wind proponents by passing Senate bill 310, a bill that delays the state’s renewable electricity standard for two years and eliminates the requirement that half of the renewables mandate be met with in-state resources.
Within days of SB310 passing, Ohio Governor John Kasich approved a change to the safety setback distances for wind turbines. Under the new law, setbacks will now be measured at the property line of the nearest adjacent property as opposed to the wall of a nearby home. In practice, this will require minimum distances of at least 1,300 feet from property lines to each turbine base.
Wind developers and Ohio’s media cried foul over due process claiming the legislature gave no warning of the setback rule change or opportunity for testimony. They insisted the provision was ‘anti-wind’ driven by coal and oil interests intent on destroying the economics of large-scale wind andcalled on the governor to veto the change.
Industry Setback Recommendations
For decades, the wind industry has advanced the notion that these massive spinning structures can safely be erected a few hundred feet from where people live and gather.
The industry’s preferred setback has been 1.1x to 1.5x the height of the tower (including the blade) which was derived from the fall-zone of the tower. We saw variations on this over the years beginning in California, that measured as much as 3-4x the total tower height. In general, there was no consideration in the setback distances for noise nor did the 1.1 to 1.5x setback adequately address ice/blade throw.
In 2006, the California Energy Commission examined setback standards in the state. The conclusion of the study called for a setback distance just shy of 1000 feet to protect against turbine failure . This distance was less conservative than what Vestas had recommended (although Vestas has since eliminated this standard from its documentation and claims it is not involved in siting decisions.)
Simple math describing motion shows that ice or debris from a 100-foot long blade can be thrown nearly 1700 feet from the base of the turbine . Turbine manufacture, Vestas, has reported debris from its V90 turbine being thrown 1,600 feet.
Assessing Risk from Turbine Failure
In assessing risk to the public, the wind industry typically assumes a probabilistic perspective where they examine the probability of failure and the chances of an individual being present at the time of the event. If the probabilistic assessment assumes that people are infrequently present when a blade might be thrown, for example, then it’s not surprising that the industry reports a low risk of harm even at close range.
According to William Palmer, a utility reliability engineer responsible for analyzing the impact on public safety at a nuclear facility in Ontario Canada, deterministic risk assessments provide a more accurate understanding of risk and necessary mitigation measures. Deterministic risk assessments require analysts to assume that a person is permanently standing at the limit of risk (edge of the safety zone), and are considered to be there during the accident. If people are nearby all the time, their risk of being hurt is high.
Safety cannot take a back seat to statistical probabilities but that’s exactly what communities have accepted from the wind industry for years.
What About Ice Throw?
Project developers often represent that ice throw is unlikely to occur because ice generally melts gradually and slips off the blade and down to the ground below. Iberdrola Renewables made this claim in 2010 prior to receiving approval to construct its Groton Wind facility in New Hampshire. However, according to Iberdrola’s Emergency Plan written for Groton Wind employees and released this year, “shedding ice may be thrown a significant distance as a result of the rotor spinning or wind blowing the ice fragments.”
GE Wind states that rotating turbine blades may propel ice fragments up to several hundred meters if conditions are right depending on turbine dimensions, rotational speed and many other potential factors.
As more turbines are sited in cold climates, the wind industry has considered safety distances based on the level of allowable risk . The figure on the right maps distances from the turbines based on the estimated annual icing events at the project site and degree of risk. In colder climates, icing can occur during non-winter months.
Very little public information is available that documents the frequency of ice throw and the distances flung from the turbines. Surveys have been conducted of large project operators in an effort to track the size and distance of ice fragments being thrown but the results are inconclusive as there is no way to assess how well the area around the turbines was searched, especially at great distances from the towers. One operator of a wind installation admitted large turbines will throw a four hundred pound chunk of ice one thousand feet.
After years of debate there is still disagreement and uncertainty regarding appropriate safety setback distances. This uncertainty has benefited the wind industry. Thousands of turbines are erected throughout the U.S. that are dangerously close to where people live.
In the last 5-6 years, communities have adopted setbacks at or greater than the distance codified under Ohio law. More modern ordinances include two setback protections. The first protects property owners from ice/debris flying off the turbines. This ranges from 1300 feet to 1 mile or more away. The second setback distance is implied based on noise limits that cannot be exceeded either at the property line or the wall of an occupied building. If the noise standards are correctly applied, turbines may be erected 1.25-1.5 (or more) miles from the property line/building.
According to Mr. Palmer, the goal of public safety risk assessment is to ensure that we do not impose risks on unsuspecting members of the public. We agree!
 Noise and ice were not considered.
 Distance is dependent on the length of the blade, its angle at the time of the incident, the speed of rotation and the vertical distance from the ground.
 The distances in the graph are based on turbines with a 50-meter rotor diameter. Newer turbines have rotor diameters well over 100-meters.
What Right Does the Government or the Wind Industry have,
to do this to Innocent Rural Citizens?
Sleep Deprivation: The 10 Most Profound Psychological Effects
Lack of sleep may feel horrible, but what is it really doing to the mind and brain?
American Randy Gardner holds the record for the longest ever scientifically documented intentionalperiod without sleep.
Without the aid of stimulants, he managed to stay awake for 264.4 hours, or 11 days and 24 minutes.
Part of his motivation was to show that sleep deprivation wasn’t that bad for you.
He was wrong: it is bad for you.
In fact he suffered paranoia, hallucinations, moodiness and a whole host of psychological problems, many described below.
It’s just he did not notice many of the problems: that’s how sleep deprivation gets you.
Here are 10 of the most profound psychological effects of sleep deprivation, on top of the fact that it feels horrible.
1. Sleepy brains work harder
Since brains that are sleep deprived aren’t as efficient, they have to work harder.
This has been demonstrated in brain imaging studies which show the brains of the sleep deprived desperately pumping energy into the prefrontal cortex, trying to overcome the effects of sleep deprivation.
2. Short-term memory is shot
Sleep deprivation causes sharp decrements in working memory.
Without short-term memory a person can’t even hold a few digits of a telephone number in their mind, let alone perform any complex tasks.
That’s why, when you’re sleep deprived, you keep going around in circles.
On day 11 of his sleep record, Randy Gardner was asked to repeatedly subtract 7 from 100. He stopped at 65 saying he had no idea what he was doing.
3. Long-term memory is shot
Sleep plays an important role in consolidating memories.
While we sleep, our brain orders, integrates and makes sense of things that have happened to us.
Not only that, but we seem to consolidate our learning while we sleep.
Without sleep the process is badly disrupted, meaning it’s difficult to lay down long-term memories and it’s harder to learn new skills.
4. Attention is shot
At our best, humans have incredible powers of attention: we can distinguish one voice from many, track small, moving objects in a sea of visually distracting information and more.
Sleep deprivation, though, causes many of these precise powers to go downhill. Without enough sleep, we can’t pay attention to our senses as well as we would like.
This partly results in that weird distracted feeling you get when tired.
5. Planning is shot
After 36 hours without sleep, your ability to plan and coordinate your actions starts to go wrong.
Tests show that this vital ability to decide when and how to start or stop tasks quickly goes awry with lack of sleep.
Sleep deprived people easily get stuck in loops of activity or fogs of indecision.
Either way it’s bad news.
6. Habits take over
Since the sleep deprived find it difficult to make plans or control how they start or stop actions, they have to fall back on the brain’s automated systems.
By which I mean: habits.
With less sleep we rely more on repeating the same actions in the same situations.
Good news when it comes to our good habits, but bad news when it comes to the bad habits.
7. Risky business
Anyone who has every played a late-night poker session will know the weird effects on your sense of risk.
Studies using card games have found that with little sleep, players get stuck in a strategic rut.
They seem incapable of changing their game plan on the basis of experience.
Sleepy people keep taking risks, even though it’s obviously not working for them.
8. Dying brain cells
All sorts of different studies are pointing to how sleep deprivation damages brain cells.
One recent study found that in mice 25% of certain brain cells died as a result of a prolonged lack of sleep.
Other studies have found lower integrity white matter in the brain, possibly as a result of sleep deprivation.
Just as lack of sleep is no good psychologically, it’s also no good physiologically.
If a person suffers from sleep deprivation on a regular basis, they may start to experience mania.
Symptoms include psychosis, paranoia, extremely high energy levels, hallucinations, aggression and more.
Links have been found between insomnia and mental illness. Unfortunately mental illness can also cause poor sleep.
If a person continues to find it difficult to sleep, it can become a vicious circle.
10. Car crash
One of the scary things about sleep deprivation is that it can build up over time and then creep up on you.
You miss an hour or two’s sleep each night, but don’t notice that it’s having a detrimental effect.
Studies find that people who are driving sleep-deprived don’t realise how acute the problem is.
Driving while sleep deprived can actually be worse than driving drunk — it has many of the same effects, but is way less obvious to the driver.
The good news is that the cure for most of these deficits is simple: just one good night’s sleep will often do the trick.
After staying awake for 11 days, Randy Gardner reportedly slept for over 14 hours the first night, then 10 hours the next night, thereafter he was fully recovered.
Those must have been some sweet dreams!
Image credit: EdMilson de Lima