Good Afternoon Director Mertz and Assistant Director Gray,
My name is Suzanne Albright, and I am writing from my home on the south shore of Lake Ontario west of Rochester, NY. As you can see, I am not a resident of Ohio, but do not believe that excludes me from being entitled to share in strong opposition to the Icebreaker Wind project proposed for the waters of Lake Erie. As part of the greatest fresh water system on earth, the Great Lakes are shared by many millions of us in two countries.
The water of these Great Lakes belongs to all of us, and in fact is held in public trust by the terms of the Public Trust Doctrine. As a member of that public, I accept the responsibility of speaking for and protecting those species who are unable to protect themselves from unanticipated harm and death as a result of human greed and ignorance. Understanding that those terms might be offensive to some, I stand by them. The evidence regarding the environmental damage, the lack of efficiency, and the negative economic impacts of industrial wind energy is mounting and overwhelming. But for the purpose of this letter, I will focus on a few of the environmental impacts.
I have attached an article that I wrote in March 2018 for the Western Cuyahoga Audubon Society, “Flying Animals Deserve to be Safe Over Lake Erie”. In fact, I was solicited by the WCAS to write the article, but once submitted, they chose not to use it. Perhaps the information and data was too damning for WCAS members who continue to believe the fallacy regarding “clean and green” wind energy. The information in that article has not changed since written one year ago, and neither has the fact that there has still not been a requirement for Icebreaker owner(s) to supply an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). That fact remains a mystery to many people, but for me it is irrelevant. Given the indisputable information in my article, there could be no reliable evidence to support a claim of no significant environmental harm. The bird (including raptor), bat, waterfowl, and even butterfly carnage that will occur if this and future projects are built in Lake Erie will be staggering, irreversible, inhumane, and even polluting.
In addition, pollution and also human danger will likely result when a turbine in the lake spins out of control or is struck by lightning during a strong nor’easter. The quote below is taken from an article regarding industrial wind turbine fires that was published in the January edition of North American Clean Energy Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 1:
“According to researchers at the University of Edinburgh, the numbers are grossly under-reported by the wind industry. “Researchers carried out a global assessment of the world’s wind farms, which amount to an estimated 200,000 turbines. The team, from Imperial College London, the University of Edinburgh and SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden, estimate that more than 117 turbine fires take place each year.”1
Wind industry leaders tend to dispute this information, but there is currently no international regulatory organization requiring them to report turbine accidents and failure. There are, however, various organizations committed to tracking and reporting turbine accidents. Caithness Windfarm Information Forum in Scotland is one such organization. From 2000 through September 30, 2018 (the end of the third quarter of 2018) Caithness has reported 330 turbine fires, including 19 so far in 20182. Although lower than the 117 annually claimed by researchers at Imperial College London, the number is large enough to reinforce the need for regulatory oversight. Caithness derives information from accident reports, insurance documents, and news articles.
Why is accurate reporting of great importance?
Public safety. Industrial wind projects are often built in rural communities, on farms leased to wind developers by farmers, to boost their income. Setbacks from homes and other dwellings, property lines, and neighboring homes and properties are determined by local governments (these vary widely around the world). Toxic smoke from burning fiber composite blades, lubricating oils, and other turbine components are detrimental to the health of people and animals. Turbine blades are currently approaching 288 feet in length (again, composed of glass and carbon fiber composite). When older, fiberglass blades burn, they release tiny airborne particles, which are easily inhaled and deposited in the lungs, irritating the capillaries. Over time, this irritation leads to scarring that causes permanent damage. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health cites studies showing that these inhaled particles could damage cellular mechanisms and DNA, which could further promote the growth of cancer cells.3Similar problems arise when disposing of these blades at the end of their lives. Research found that, “Combustion of GFRP (glass fiber reinforced polymer) is especially problematic because it can produce toxic gases, smoke, and soot that can harm the environment and humans. Carbon monoxide and formaldehyde have been reported as residue from thermal degradation of epoxy resin. Another residue is carbon dioxide, which poses concerns regarding greenhouse gas emissions.4 In California, exploded turbine blade pieces were reported to have flown 4,200 feet. Imagine this scenario with flaming blade debris. Further, due to turbine height, fire brigades are unable to reach the flaming gear boxes, nacelles, and enormous blades. Widespread flaming debris is also difficult to contain. Often, the only option is to stand by and watch these fires burn.”
Having written that article, I reviewed multiple turbine fire reports during my research. In doing so, I tried to imagine a turbine fire in Lake Erie during a strong nor’easter. It would likely be impossible to extinguish. The resulting products of combustion, the flying parts including burning blades, the water pollution and debris, possible human injury and more are NOT worth the risk.
In conclusion, I ask that you refuse to allow this project to be built. The risks to animal and human health and safety and to the general health of the Great Lakes is on the line. Our deteriorating ecosystem cannot afford the destruction and devastation that will undoubtedly result.
Principal and Founding Member, Great Lakes Wind Truth