“Who should influence the wind turbine noise debate” by Stephen Ambrose

This report has been called the “smoking gun” of noise reports from Rob Rand, Member INCE and Stephen E. Ambrose, INCE, Bd.Cert.  They helped produce the Bruce McPherson Infrasound and Low Frequency Noise Study. Stephen Ambrose is a Board Certified Member of the Institute of Noise Control Engineers (INCE) with over 35 years’ experience investigating man-made problems in environmental sound and industrial noise control. ===================================================

I am respectfully writing in response to the letter by Gordon L. Deane; “Misinformation has undue influence in turbine debate” of February 2, 2012 for the SouthCoastToday.com.  I have a question; how did he get himself in such an awkward position?  His engineers should have foreseen and advised that there would be an adverse public response to wind turbine noise. There are published documents that would have clearly shown neighbors’ seeking relief with appeals for legal action.
My profession as INCE member requires that I honor and obey “Canons of Ethics”. 1) Hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public. 2) Provide services only in areas of competence.  3) Issue public statements in an objective and truthful manner.  And there are more. These Canons of Ethics are identical to those required by states for licensed professional engineers.
So many public complaints about wind turbines caused me to wonder why my fellow professionals were not following the principal of the first Canon.  This apparent omission prompted me to take an active interest in wind turbine noise.  Why are so many neighbors complaining about living near industrial wind turbines?  Why are government agencies not doing more to protect the public?  There should be more professionals seeking answers.
The second Canon requires that I become competent in wind turbine noise.  I now have more than two years’ experience investigating wind turbines with another acoustic professional; Robert W. Rand, also an INCE Member.  We each have more than 30 years’ experience working in our areas of expertise, and many of those years working in the Boston office for Stone & Webster Engineering.  What we learned there working on large power station projects, was to first determine the sensitivity of nearby neighbors to changes to their acoustic environment using published US EPA methods.  Then a noise level criterion was developed for the proposed facility and feasibility determined based on cost-effective noise controls.  Sometimes the costs were too great or there were no cost-effective solutions.
The third Canon prompted this letter to inform the public with this brief statement.  Why have many wind turbine sites produced such visceral noise complaints?  Why have my fellow professionals deferred investigating first-hand for themselves: that is to live as or with a neighbor as we have?
We all should view wind turbine neighbors as representatives of the proverbial canary in the mine.  Instead, the neighbor is accused of not being truthful, should be ignored and thereby isolated from consideration.  However this is not working, complaints are constantly increasing, including the abandonment of homes.  People near large wind turbines are so debilitated that they have taken extreme measures to save their well-being.
Why have only a few environmental noise and public health professionals recognized there is a serious noise problem?  The wind turbine industry has enlisted like-minded experts from academia and government agencies to support their goals.  Their research is confined to only peer-reviewed documents and panel discussions.  They have dismissed the obvious.  The neighbors continue to ask that their destroyed lives be peer-reviewed.  This leads back to the first Canon: Hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public.

— Steve
Stephen E. Ambrose, INCE, Bd.Cert. Acoustics, Environmental Sound and Industrial Noise SE Ambrose & Associates

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