There is a health tragedy unfolding in our country that the media has either forgotten or ignored: the thousands of Ontario residents who continue to suffer under the flickering shadows of industrial wind factories. In the documentary Down Wind — one of the few serious journalistic efforts on this subject — the testimonies of residents driven from their homes, even driven to the brink of suicide due to ill health effects, are heart-wrenching.
In 2019, Ontario Premier Doug Ford declared a moratorium on wind projects that remains in effect to this day.
I’m proud that we actually saved the taxpayers $790 million when we cancelled those terrible, terrible, terrible wind turbines that really, for the last 15 years, have destroyed our energy file… if we had the chance to get rid of all the windmills, we would.Premier Doug Ford, CBC News, November 21, 2019
In a town hall exchange, he called wind turbines a “big scam” that’s “driving the hydro costs up” and leaving “land… devaluated.”1 But there has been no moratorium on the ongoing health problems or heartaches of those forced to live near wind farms — or forced from them.
Sherri Lange, CEO of the North American Platform Against Wind Power, and that group were instrumental in gaining a moratorium on both offshore and onshore wind projects, pressuring both the Liberal government and then Ford’s to end what she calls the “debacle of wind proliferation in Ontario.” She compiled a dossier of the heartbreaking stories of her fellow Ontarians. The “Special Report” was sent to the Premier but little action has been taken for those still impacted. Some 2,630 industrial turbines2 continue to spin across the province. Lange spoke with Wind Concerns to tell us the situation there as of 2023.
Farmers were offered about 10K per turbine, and some hosted many multiples. The cross-neighbor angst, even among families, was and is horrific.Sherri Lange, interview with Wind Concerns, September 23, 2023
But it’s the ongoing scourge of those in her province still impacted by massive industrial wind turbines, sometimes only hundreds of meters from their homes, that has her most concerned.
“The ‘noise’ is more than mechanical grunts, whining, whizzing, gears shifting, whistling, and impulsive,” says Lange, “it is the subacoustic ‘noise’ that causes the bulk of the problem.”
Acoustician Steven Cooper of the European Acoustics Association Technical Committee on Noise, has completed numerous current studies on the effects of wind turbine “noise.” While wind companies and regulatory bodies seem only concerned with testing the audible spectrum of sound, Cooper “found residents could identify pulsations [infrasound] from the wind farm even though it could not be heard.”3 It’s this inaudible pulsating noise that numerous studies have correlated with adverse health events in both animals and humans, such as headache, painful pressure on the ears, dizziness, weakness, tachycardia, tinnitus, nausea, nosebleeds, insomnia, visual blurring, panic attacks with sensations of internal quivering to more general irritability.4 These particular health effects were coined as “wind turbine syndrome” by Dr. Nina Pierpoint, MD, Ph.D.5
…my work has shown that inaudible pulsating noise can create impacts. As such it would appear that I have provided some validation of a hypothesis provided by Dr. Nina Pierpont in 2009.Steven Cooper, “Sensing but Not Hearing: The Problem of Wind Turbine Noise (Interview with acoustician Steven Cooper, AU“, February 2, 2018
A French Court finally acknowledged “wind turbine syndrome” (WTS) in a ruling in favor of the victims in 2021.6 Several other studies, doctors, and scientists have also correlated these health impacts.7 A Health Canada study that is heavily cited by the wind industry dismisses these ill health effects as “annoyance.” But that study’s flaws have been panned by victims and scientists alike, including Lange.
The harms to animals have been equally terrifying. One woman who moved to Alberta to escape the wind turbines surrounding her Ontario farm, spoke at a Wind Concerns public meeting:
Everything you are hearing is true — the adverse health affects: headaches, dizziness, nausea… I experienced them. I also own 10 mares that I breed, and a year after the turbines went in, all of them went sterile.Terry
“So imagine so many wind machines grinding away, keeping entire populations awake, stressing their bodily systems, creating uninhabitable homes, killing their livestock, or harming to the extent they must be removed, and no one listens”, says Lange. “When you create a monster, and don’t dismantle it, despite the policy move to end development, you still have the basic problem: ill health, people struggling to move, or adjust to staying it out for 20 plus years — and don’t forget water contamination.”
One heart-wrenching testimony in Lange’s dossier is of a family who lost their 6th generation farm, pioneered in the mid 1800’s. They and their family pet all experienced various forms of WTS. The wife was forced to sleep on a basement sofa for 2 years before the family decided to leave in order to regain their health. They sold their farm and livestock, forfeiting the husband’s dream. “It was devastating to sell,” she wrote, “but we felt there was no choice.”
That story has been repeated countless times, according to Lange, who brought the dossier of “tens of thousands of complaints” to one of the officers in the Ontario Environment Ministry, who replied, “If we respond to this, we are going to open the flood waters.”
And so she says, “Nothing has calmed down. But some are resigned to living in medical stress, some have of course moved out, even out of province; some are living in cottages, trailers, with relatives. Some are battling to make the water contamination issues more visible. Many have abandoned homes, or sold them, or are living as noted, in other areas, with family. One gentleman who runs a repair of old farm machinery is suing over five years now, and lives 5 miles down the road. His home is uninhabitable. The province decided to discontinue buying out impacted families after they realized it would be a continuum they might never escape.”
Another family eventually moved to Saskatchewan. They experienced ‘unexplained bloody noses, pain, burning in the feet, headaches, dizziness, heart palpitations, heavy chest, sudden changes in moods, inability to concentrate and sleep deprivation. They experienced vertigo; injuries did not heal; teeth felt like they were being pulled.’
The cattle and family pet dog, Tigger, were also impacted. Prolapsed cows, stillborns, cows bleeding from the nose, sudden aggressive behavior in previously calm animals.From the “Special Report”, Ross and Darlene Brindley
One family near Amaranth, Ontario, after 6 years (now 12) said they, “are emotionally and financially drained. We fear we are going to lose the little bit we have left.”
We cannot sleep, we are sick, our animals are sick, our children cannot live in our house, friends come and have to leave, our doctor says we should not be living in our house. The Ministry insists all is fine. We have taken three-year-old Keiara to the emergency room 10 times with problems and Dr. McMurtry said my daughter shouldn’t be there (at their home in Ripley). My daughter has earaches with screaming at night and is not active as usual. Since (we moved), she’s been a totally different child.
Lange says one family did renovations of upwards of $80,000 to mitigate the vibration impacts, but it wasn’t worth the money. Some, a very few people she said, “have been ‘seduced’ by a developer or two, accepting new windows, or a row of trees, to have them be quiet about the harm being done to, say, their kids with severe learning disabilities. Yes, this happens. It’s a grand seduction all round.”
“Many rural families have moved on from the former devastation to their herds and animals, and are now working with greatly reduced numbers of cattle and goats,” says Lange. “One family has lost over 300 animals, goats and cows, and now only has a few donkeys, which appear a little hardier to the infrasound and vibration. Some who have had chickens, having noted blind chicks, eggs without yolks, and agitated animals, have sold and moved up north. This is after a vigorous challenge to the Environment Minister, to the Premier, and various acoustic measurements personnel. Challenges to the Ombudsman, to councillors, MPPs, and so on, were met with denial or silence.”
“The turbines are still in situ, still creating mayhem.”
Lange is unequivocal that she rejects the “NIMBY” position — “not in my backyard” — to simply move the turbines somewhere else. “It’s a strategy that is doomed for failure: they simply don’t work, don’t produce meaningful power, are dangerous, and killers of wildlife.” She says the other Premiers, particularly Alberta’s Danielle Smith, who recently issued a “pause” on renewable energy projects until February 2024, should reject Big Wind altogether and look to less harmful energy alternatives.
Lange quotes a letter she received from Doug Ford just four months before he became Premier of Ontario:
The Liberals’ disastrous energy policy, the Green Energy Act, and the lucrative subsidies given to “renewables” – especially inefficient wind energy – have cost our province dearly. Thanks to heavily-subsidized and over-priced wind power that we do not need, electricity rates have skyrocketed. People across our province are faced with the highest electricity prices in North America. This is killing our economy and crippling the hard-working people of rural Ontario. It is disgraceful that many are being forced to choose between heating and eating. Situations like the contamination of formerly pristine water in wells in Chatham Kent, for example, are completely unacceptable. Families having to abandon their homes because of wind developers is unacceptable. As Premier, I would create a new energy plan for Ontario that puts health and safety first….Letter from Doug Ford, candidate for Ontario Premier, to North American Platform Against Windpower, March 1, 2018
“But the fight is not over,” warns Lange. “As long as Apex Predators — which is what I call industrial wind developers — are among us… I fear we will not rest.”
- March 24, 2022, obj.ca
- “Sensing but Not Hearing: The Problem of Wind Turbine Noise (Interview with acoustician Steven Cooper, AU“), February 2, 2018
- cf. Turbine Sickness: How Far Away Is Safe?
- cf. Wind Turbine and Health Studies
- cf. Turbine Sickness: How Far Away is Safe?
Mark Mallett is a former award-winning reporter with CTV Edmonton and an independent researcher and author. His family homesteaded between Vermilion and Cold Lake, Alberta, and now resides in the Lakeland region. Mark is Editor in Chief of Wind Concerns.