Waubra Foundation > Information > For Residents > Is it the Turbines?

Is it the Turbines?

Like many people, you’re probably wondering if it’s the turbines that make people sick. Here are some details to help you understand this better.

People are affected differently

  • Some people develop new symptoms and others find that pre-existing medical conditions which have previously been well controlled become unstable or difficult to manage.
  • Some people develop symptoms immediately when they are exposed to operating wind turbines or other sources of low frequency noise and vibration, especially if they have a history of migraines, inner ear pathology, or motion sickness, such as seasickness or carsickness.
  • Others in the same household may not develop symptoms until months or even years afterwards.
  • And some people may not develop symptoms at all.

Is it the sound and vibration, or something else?

Residents living near new sources of environmental noise report noticing new symptoms which over time they come to associate with the operation of the noise emitting machinery. Keeping a personal health journal will help determine whether the symptoms are related to exposure or not.

However it may not always be the actual noise and vibration which is directly causing some of these new symptoms. Sometimes there are other possible concurrent causes of some of these new symptoms, or they may be unrelated to the nearby new industrial activities.

In the case of CSG operations, there have been reports of air and water contamination, in addition to noise and vibration from the fracking activities and from the field compressors, especially at night.

If you live near a CSG plant or field compressor, you may find Dr Geralyn McCarron’s survey of resident at the Tara gas field useful.

In the case of coal mining and gas fired power stations, some neighbouring residents report altered and impaired air quality, in addition to the noise and vibration.

If you live near a mining development, you may find Sharyn Munro’s book, “Rich Land Wasteland”, published in 2012 by PanMacMillan Press a useful resource. Chapter 5 called “Clearing out the Country” deals specifically with environmental noise and vibration issues and you can read more about the book in our Resources section. Dr Steve Robinson’s submission to the NSW Parliamentary inquiry may also be useful.

If you live near a gas fired power station you may find Greg Clarke’s blog useful.

In the case of wind turbines, in some locations residents have noticed batteries on phones, cars, tractors, and cameras discharging very quickly, flourescent light bulbs lighting up spontaneously and electricity meters spinning much more quickly despite homes being abandoned and little electricity being used. These observations by the residents suggest changes to the electromagnetic fields (EMF) are occurring, indicating that new sound and vibration frequencies are not the only change to their environment.

Residents have also noticed quite marked rapid fluctuations in air pressure when outside, especially within 1 – 2km of operating wind turbines, sufficient to knock them off their feet or bring some men to their knees when out working in their paddock, and have been reported by farmers to perceptibly rock stationary cars. The perception of these air pressure fluctuations is reported by these farmers to vary with the blades passing the towers.

Acoustician Dr Bob Thorne has hypothesised that these reported events may be caused by peaks and troughs which vary according to the wind direction and interaction of wind turbine wakes. Pilots have noted wind turbine wake turbulence many kilometres away from the operating wind turbines themselves, creating aviation hazards some kilometres away.

NSW Fire Service recently announced the usage of alarms using low frequency sound energy, which cause cars to shake and drivers to perceive that effect, even when the drivers cannot see or hear the fire engines, in order to alert nearby drivers to the presence of fire engines. This alert system for nearby drivers uses accepted acoustic knowledge that such very low frequency sound energy can still be perceived, even when it cannot be heard.

Watch or read resident’s personal accounts

Other useful resources with resident’s own descriptions of their symptoms and experiences include the raw data section of Dr Nina Pierpont’s study, also contained in her book, available from the Wind Turbine Syndrome website.

The Resources section of this website contains personal submissions by Australian residents to Senate inquiries detailing their experiences.

Other websites which contain video interviews of resident’s experiences include:

What else can I do?

Visit the What Can I Do page to learn more about your options. You’ll also find useful information in Sources of Help.