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Some Canadians concerned wind turbines create health issues

Feb 19, 2011 8:52pm
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(NECN/CBC) -  A move is underway in Ontario to stop the use of wind turbines. Residents are concerned they could cause health problems.

Katie Erickson only has to drive a few minutes from her home before she's surrounded by wind turbines.

"We just want to do everything in our power to put a stop to this," she said.

Suncor Energy is building 8 new wind turbines near Erickson's rural home.

She and her parents are worried about increasing complaints that turbines can cause health problems: everything from headaches to insomnia to severe stress.

"I don't want them in my backyard, but I'm also saying I don't want them around anyone because of the health concerns," said Erickson. "People should have a say whether or not if they live near one of these."

Erickson appealed the project and that sparked these hearings - Canada's first into the effects of turbines on human health. The question is there something about the sound and vibration of turbines that affect some people and just how far way should they be? 

Dr. Robert McMurtry is star witness for the anti-wind power side. He's the former Dean of Medicine at Western University. He's calling for a proper study into why people feel sick when turbines are near their homes.

"The key things most unusual is that they feel this at home when they go away they get better and when they return they return they are worse," he said.

One third of Canada's wind turbines are in Ontario. 

In fact, wind power is growing faster there than in any other part of the country. But as the number of turbines increase, so do the protests.

Those protests are well organized and determined, pitted against the ontario government that's counting on wind power to cut pollution and provide energy and jobs. 

"It will not stop us from doing what we were elected to do, that is break our addiction to dirty coal fired generation," said Margo McDiamid.

Canada's growing wind industry says this all about few people stirring up a fuss. 

"For the vast majority of people we work with, they are in favor of this," said Ontario Environment Minister John Wilkinson.

Katie Erickson is keeping a close watch on turbines behind her house. She hopes the hearings will prove they should never operate so close to people. 
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