RNAO and the precautionary principle
We don’t have a copy of the new “Vibrant Communities” document and RNAO policy talking points yet, but we do know that last week, the Association said they do not support expnasion/upgrade/new build for nuclear power generation in Ontario. They mentioned the Precautionary Principle, and said that Ontario needs to proceed with caution due to the potential for harm to public health from nuclear power.
Arguments about nuclear aside (we note that in Europe, specifically France, nuclear is considered to be a clean renewable power source), we can only ask this:
WHY does RNAO not see the need to apply the Precautionary Principle to industrial-scale wind power generation, too? Reports of health effects from the environmental noise (well documented by the World Health Organization as a source of illness) are increasing all over the world, and studies have been done in the U.S. that confirm negative health effects, but the RNAO doesn’t seem to see things that way.
Here’s a sampling of some research (peer reviewed):
“Research is beginning to show that, in addition to sleep disturbances, these emissions [from industrial wind turbines] may have other deleterious consequences on health. It is for these reasons that wind turbines are becoming an important community health issue, especially when hosted in quiet rural communities that have no prior experience with industrial noise… the increased size of these multi-watt turbines, especially the blades, has been associated with complaints of adverse health effects that cannot be explained by auditory responses alone.”
–Punch J, James R & Pabst D. 2010. Wind turbine noise: what audiologists should know. Audiology Today.
“Our results suggest that utility-scale wind energy generation is not without adverse health effects on nearby residents. Thus, nations undertaking large-scale deployment of wind turbines need to consider the impact of noise on the HRQOL of exposed individuals. Along with others, we conclude that night-time wind turbine noise limits should be set conservatively to minimize harm, and on the basis of our data, suggest that setback distances need to be greater than 2 km in hilly terrain.”
–Shepherd D, McBride D, Welch D, Dirks K & Hill E. 2011. Evaluating the impact of wind turbine noise on health related quality of life. Noise & Health.
“Important community health issue”? When will the Government of Ontario and its loyal follower the RNAO, see the environmental noise produced by industrial wind turbines that way?
We close with a link to a video of Dr Robert McMurty, former Associate Deputy Minister of Health at Health Canada, and former dean of Medicine at the University of Western Ontario, who also refers to the Precautionary Principle.
Coming tomorrow: the Chief Medical Officer of Health Report from 2010.
Wednesday: what are “direct effects” on health?
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