Health alliance voices turbine concerns in letter

OBSERVER File Photo Ball Hill Wind Energy Project Manager Mark Lyons will attend a public hearing Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Hamlet United Methodist Church to propose height increase for the turbines from 495 feet to 568 feet.

Newly constructed wind turbines in the hills of Arkwright as well as other potential projects in our region has caught the attention of the Western New York Public Health Alliance.

This morning, the alliance released a letter sent to the Public Service Commission regarding wind turbines in the eight western New York counties of New York. This letter was sent as back up to a letter originally drafted by the Boards of Health for Niagara and Orleans counties.

Other Western New York Public Health Commissioners have recently put their support behind the effort to highlight potential public health concerns with wind turbines.

Here is the letter in its entirety:

Honorable Kathleen H. Burgess

Secretary to the Commissioner

Public Service Commission

90 Church Street

New York, NY 10007

Dear Ms. Burgess:

Several Western New York Boards of Health have been engaged in wide public interest and general concern over the proposal by APEX to construct industrial turbines in Western New York counties. These counties are members of the Western New York Public Health Alliance (WNYPHA), and our members share that concern. These projects plan for the erection of industrial turbines in the communities that we, under New York State Public Health Law, are charged with protecting resident’s health.

Classifying wind turbine projects under Article 10 allows them to be classified as Type II actions in the SEQRA regulations (6NYCRR Part 617). This classification allows standard environmental reviews under the Environmental Conservation Law, Article 8 to be waived. Under the Article 10 legislation, our local boards of health home rule ability to take steps to safeguard the health and wellness of our residents and protect the environment within our counties has been put at risk. What is the state’s position and plan to ensure that our residents’ health is protected and the impacts on our local environment have been reviewed and vetted through the standard state assessments for projects of this magnitude?

Our membership believes that any project of this nature and magnitude only be considered following a complete and transparent process including all the standard environmental and health impact studies and local input. The WNYPHA, lacking both the resource and expertise in this very broad matter, believe it is both reasonable and prudent to require a full SEQRA environmental review prior to any further consideration or action by the Article 10 Siting Board.

If you have further questions on our position or wish to discuss further, we request that you contact Niagara County Public Health Director Daniel Stapleton at (716) 439-7435 or Orleans County Public Health Director Paul Pettit at (585) 589-3278.

The Western New York Public Health Alliance (WNYPHA) is a not-for-profit organization comprised of the Health Commissioners/Public Health Directors and other community public health leaders from the eight counties of Western New York. Their mission is to support collaboration across WNY to further public health initiatives and priorities. As part of this mission, the WNYPHA works to provide health education and information to prevent disease and improve population health.

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