In Part One of his series, The Falmouth Experience: The Trouble With One Town’s Wind Turbine, WGBH radio reporter Sean Corcoran spoke to Neil Andersen, a Falmouth resident who says the nearby wind turbine has had catastrophic effects on his health. Here’s more of their conversation, plus a series of photos of the log Andersen and his wife keep of the noise and its effects on them.
Neil Andersen: We knew there was a turbine going over there, we were not notified of any meetings or any type of concerns. In other words, there was no input from this residence.
I am an energy conservationist, I’ve had my own passive solar building company for 35 years. I was actually looking forward to that turbine being erected there. Although when it went up it was quite astounding the size of it.
I was proud looking at it from this viewpoint until it started turning. And it is dangerous, Sean. Headaches. Loss of sleep. And the ringing in my ears is constant. Never goes away. That started probably in May. It’s a constant reminder of that thing. I can look at it all day long, and it does not bother me. It’s quite majestic. But it’s way too close.
Sean Corcoran: How long after it started to spin did you start feeling some sort of symptoms?
Myself, it took me about a month and a half, maybe two months, to manifest all the symptoms. First it was the pressure in the head. The ears popping for no reason at all. Trying to get the water out of your ears and there was no water there. My wife, the first day, she feels it and notices it, and she feels it and notices it every day.
People talk about the noise, it gets loud. It gets jet-engine loud from this point right here. But the noise is the minimum component of that turbine. There is a pressure involved that gets into your ear, like you’re climbing at altitude in an airplane and your ears pop.
And there is a low-frequency pulse that particularly drives me crazy and some of the neighbors around here. It is a once-per-second low-frequency pulse, and it messes up your vestibular organs in your inner ear. And gives you a sense of off-balance and vertigo.
We both have signs of these symptoms. Headaches. My wife gets headaches three or four times a week, she wakes up with a headaches. She’s actually sleeping in a back bedroom right now with earplugs and a white noise machine trying to mask the sound. But it is really not doing any good because the sound just comes right through the windows, right through the insulation, right through the earplugs. And the pulse is right there.
Can you hear it right now?
You don’t hear it. It’s inaudible. There’s testimony from all over the country of the same thing, people complaining about the turbines. Denmark, Australia, Canada, the United States. But there is really no peer-reviewed medical info, which I hear all the time. Prove it, they’re saying. Prove it. Come down here and hear it yourself if you want.
And do you take that as people calling you a liar or people calling you a fool?
I’m not sure. I think they just don’t want to believe it. It’s so ironic, here I have to try to get that thing knocked down. Basically it’s a good principle, anything that can wean us off the number-two fuel, heating oil, and that type of thing is good for us, but it has to be done correctly. In this case it certainly wasn’t.
They look at us as being the bad aspect of this. But the people in the wind industry, you cannot turn a blind eye to this. You know about it.
I’m sorry we don’t have doctors that have come to prove it. I welcome anybody to come down here with their testing equipment and test what this thing does, but I will tell you, it does hurt the wind industry. And I know there are properly-sited wind projects out there that are getting knocked down because of this. But that’s okay too.
I think everybody should just stop for awhile and figure this out. You can’t just be forcing these on people.
The Andersens decided to keep a calendar to document the turbine’s noise and its effects on them. They let us photograph parts of their log: