Driving by a wind farm, looking at the rural houses, it's easy to be skeptical about the talk of wind turbines making people sick. We're told that wind turbines are good and green. So how could those people living by them have an issue?
But there is a problem—and it's there because some governments and wind companies didn't do their homework before installing megawatt after megawatt of huge industrial machines. And as a result there are people living among the turbines who are suffering.
In the new documentary film WIND RUSH, produced for CBC Doc Zone by Toronto's 90th Parallel Productions, the battleground for the pro and anti wind forces is southern Ontario. The government there pledged to wean the province off coal fired generation plants and replace them with green wind energy.
But as soon as the turbines went up in places like Wolf Island, Amaranth and Bruce County, people realized they could hear them. Sometimes it was like a whisper, but other times it sounded more like a jet taking off.
And then it got worse.
New turbines started coming in at two and three times the size of the old ones. And they were even louder. It led to chronic sleeplessness for many people living close by—and that can lead to diabetes, depression and heart disease. Others were affected in their inner ears by low-level sounds that set off their equilibrium. Doctors started seeing patient after patient complaining of the same sets of symptoms. And then people started to realize that no one had done any significant human health studies before giving the green light to the turbine farms.
The Hammonds, wind farmers
WIND RUSH takes viewers to southwestern Alberta, where wind has been an energy staple for more than twenty years. There is plenty of room for humans and windmills to coexist—a stark contrast to Ontario, where the same prairie technology was installed in a dramatically different landscape. The film then moves to Denmark, a country long considered the poster-child for the wind energy movement. But as WIND RUSH reveals, the relationship between the Danes and turbines has soured.
WIND RUSH talks to people on either side of the turbine divide, and then turns to scientists to try and determine what has gone wrong. In the next several years the turbines will double in size again—bigger, louder and more powerful. But without sufficient research have the people who live among the wind farms been forgotten?