In May 2009 Dr. Arlene King, the Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health, released a review that has subsequently been used by the wind industry to “prove” that wind turbines are safe. The King report was one of Chapman’s 17 reviews and it has been cited repeatedly by developers, especially in Ontario. It is by any standard a real disservice to the health of rural Ontarians in the path of wind energy developments. I’ve posted on it previously as has the Society for Wind Vigilance.
The money sentence is “The review concludes that while some people living near wind turbines report symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, and sleep disturbance, the scientific evidence available to date does not demonstrate a direct causal link between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects.” Note the “direct causal” language. You’d think a Ministry of Health would be concerned about all health issues, not just those that were direct and causal. Apparently not in Ontario.
A recent FOIA request revealed some of the deliberations that went on within the Ministry just before the King report and its supporting materials were released. It seems we can thank WindyLeaks for this information [backup link].
The essence of these deliberations can be boiled down to the use of the word “direct”. Originally the word wasn’t in there until Dr. Ray Copes, one of the reviewers, wrote that “should add ‘direct’ as studies would support a link through ‘annoyance’.” A second statement originally said that there were no indirect links either, until Copes wrote “Not really true. The link between perceived noise and symptoms is probably linked to annoyance. The link with annoyance should be recognized.” And finally, in response to a statement that tried to deflect any symptoms away from the turbines, he wrote “This answer isn’t credible. Either ‘fess up to the annoyance link or delete. ”
You’d think that a Ministry of Health, when faced with significant numbers of adverse health impacts, would go out and find out what was going on. Instead they are discussing how to weasel-word around the problem. One has to ask, are they more interested in the health of Ontarians, or are they more interested in providing cover for an industry that has been anointed by the Premier, Dalton McGuinty? Given this latest revelation, the answer is clear. The MOH people knew that turbines caused health symptoms and opted to produce a report that inferred that they did not; a report that has since been used to continue building projects too close to the neighbors and causing them harm.
UPDATE – Lisa Thompson was the MPP (Member of the Ontario Provincial Parliament) who had a lot to do with the FOIA. She was interviewed on Goldhawk Fights Back.