Rogers, Linda Witness Statement, Environmental Review Tribunal, Ontario 2014

Witness Statement Prepared by: Linda J Rogers NP-PHC.
Primary Health Care Nurse Practitioner
Haldimand County, Ontario

Submitted: December 8, 2014

ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW TRIBUNAL: Case No. 14–096

Mothers Against Wind Turbines Inc., v. Director, Ministry of the Environment
Renewable Energy Approval Decision: 4353-9HMP2R, issued by the Director, Ministry of the Environment

Excerpts

1.0 Introduction:

I intend to appear before the Tribunal to give factual and opinion formed by my training and within my area of expertise. I accept being subjected to direct examination and cross– examination

A. I am a Registered Nurse in the Extended Class, licensed by the College of Nurses of Ontario and hold the protected title of Primary Health Care Nurse Practitioner or NPPHC, and am in good standing.

B. I am qualified as a Primary Health Care provider to make or convey a diagnosis, order diagnostic tests, order therapeutic treatments, prescribed medications or treatments within my scope of knowledge and regulated practice. I have expertise in assessing harm to human health as a clinician.

C. I am a mother of a child who is especially vulnerable to living conditions due to his congenital and medical conditions. Living Conditions are known as the social determinants of health which determine one’s state of well–being. I have applied my knowledge and risk assessment expertise to protect my son from changes in our living habitat due to the installation and operations of several Wind Power electrical generation installations surrounding my home.

 

D. My knowledge is informed by approximately 3, 000 hours of study, reviewing peer reviewed studies, articles, position papers, consultations with experts in allied health fields, consultation with engineers, acousticians, researchers, renewable energy representatives, government representatives at all levels, including face– to– face discussions with residents who are reporting harm and adverse health effects with the exposure to wind power plant emissions, and many other stake holders involved in the renewable energy industry. The most compelling information for me has been obtained on a first hand basis in a variety of settings that detail the histories of families and individuals whose lives and health have been changed by the living conditions associated with wind projects. These testimonies are increasingly being validated by scientific literature confirming statistically significant dose response associated with an exposure to wind turbine noise.

E. Changes in living conditions which occur in interaction with the natural environment would include but are not limited to, adverse effects due to emissions due to noise, vibrations, light, electrical discharges and other features of wind power installations. Changes in visual amenities, changes in plant life, animal life, and the natural environment give rise to human reactions and perceptions to these changes as people interact with their natural environment. Changes have the capacity to influence health outcomes. What is at issue at this hearing is not that changes will occur but the degree of severity of harm, and also if the existing regulations have been applied correctly, and if they stand up to scrutiny of being protective to health with the current state of scientific knowledge.

F. Actions are directed per my professional obligations to promote, preserve and protect human health have included deputations, letters, face to face meetings to all levels of government (Municipal, Provincial, and Federal), and participation in an OMB hearing. I have acted as a representative for Haldimand Wind Concerns during three Tribunal hearings in appeals against the granted renewable energy approvals. I have also provided consultative and research services for various community stakeholders at their request. Recently I accepted the offered position of Director on the Board of a Federally Registered Non Profit community based group, called Mothers Against Wind Turbines Inc. (MAWTI) a group which advocates for protection of all children and their families’ health associated with wind projects. I am a member of Wind Concerns Ontario and remain active with the affairs of Haldimand Wind Concerns.

These actions are guided by my duties to provide care and the professional regulations guiding my practice actions and decisions as a Primary Health Care Nurse Practitioner and by the Precautionary Principle to preserve and protect individual and community health from harm, whether feared or demonstrated. This expertise is used when responding to any known or potential harms to health, either for myself, my child or other family members, or communities.

Environmental Protection Act of Ontario Defines Adverse Effect as:

adverse effect” means one or more of,

(a) impairment of the quality of the natural environment for any use that can be made of it,

(b) injury or damage to property or to plant or animal life,

(c ) harm or material discomfort to any person,

(d) an adverse effect on the health of any person,

(e) impairment of the safety of any person,

(f) rendering any property or plant or animal life unfit for human use,

(g) loss of enjoyment of normal use of property, and

(h) interference with the normal conduct of business; (“conséquence préjudiciable”)1

2.0 World Health Organization Definition of Health:

Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” (World Health Organization, 1948)

To date, Environmental Review Tribunal hearings have heard various position statements and arguments in regards to the WHO definition of health. The following Tribunal decision is one such example and affirms the WHO’s definition by stating:

the WHO’s broad approach to the meaning of human health best fits with the statutory scheme, including the direction provided by the Legislation Act, 2006. It provides: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”

Furthermore the Tribunal:

“[7] In Erickson, the Tribunal found that the World Health Organization (“WHO”) definition of “health” is appropriate for the first branch of the test. Among other matters, one of the appeals requires the Tribunal to consider the overlap of “human health” under the first branch of the REA appeal test and the environmental matters in the second branch of the test, in an aboriginal context.” 3 

Historically, health has been interpreted in a very narrow focus of being the absence of disease, illness or injury to the physical integrity of the body. The more modern interpretation recognizes health, and the factors which influence it, as much broader in its scope. Policy and jurisprudence is evolving rapidly when considering health and wind turbines. The following examples are presented to highlight this point: Health Canada summary report (November 6, 2014), University of Waterloo Industrial Wind Turbine study (2014), the Brown County Board of Health, Wisconsin, Declaration (October 14, 2014), Vermont Best Practice Guidelines (2014), Higher Court of Munich Decision (January 31, 2014), Falmouth, Michigan Decision (October, 2014), and the decision made at the Supreme Court level in Portugal (May 30, 2013)

Both reported adverse health symptoms and first person testimony are recognized and given weight in the more contemporary and holistic approach to health as exemplified in the WHO statement: that health is a broader concept than mere absence of illness or disease. Health is a state of well-being. In this light, many factors and conditions beyond those which can be identified by microscopes, lab results, x-rays or diagnostic measures are more applicable criteria to assess the state of wellness.

 3.0 Health Canada Summary Report:

On November 6th 2014 Health Canada released its preliminary summary report on the research undertaken in regards to Wind Turbine Noise and Health Study; Summary of Results.4 The report affirms annoyance and the association with wind turbine noise exposure in a dose response relationship.

Annoyance due to noise is a known and reported Adverse Health Effect to community noise.

Read the complete witness statement → 

Download the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal Appeal →

Of interest is at page 21, para. 54, the ERT determined that, based on the WHO definition of health, economic factors can impact human health:

[54] As the Tribunal has already noted, the Tribunal need not make a determination of the relative merits of this evidence at this stage. The Tribunal finds that Ms. Rogers’ evidence describes how economic factors can impact human health, and does so in a manner which falls within the scope of the issues raised in the Appellant’s health appeal. On this basis, the Tribunal concludes that the economic impacts referenced by Ms. Rogers are not too remote to be considered within the scope of the human health impacts of the Project. For this reason, the Tribunal concludes that the Approval Holder’s request to strike this section of Ms. Rogers’ evidence should be denied.

Download the Economic Impact Issue excerpt from the May 15 ERT Proceedings →