RUMFORD – The health risks versus the economic benefits of wind power were argued Wednesday night at a Maine Department of Environmental Protection hearing on the Record Hill Wind project for Roxbury’s ridges.

About 75 people attended the session at Mountain Valley High School, where more than 25 of them spoke about the 22-turbine project proposed by former Maine Gov. Angus King and Robert Gardiner.

Rumford Hospital physician Dr. Albert Aniel addressed the potential health effects caused by the sound and vibration from turbine blades. He told DEP officials they need to have medical studies done because inaudible sounds generate vibrations that can disorient people and make them hyperventilate, get dizzy, and suffer an increased heart rate and accelerated aging of heart muscles.

“You do not need to hear a wind turbine to get these problems,” Aniel said.

He also addressed flickering strobe effects caused by the shadows of turning turbine blades.

“This has the potential to cause seizures to someone who is epileptic. Flicker can also be picked up up to 6 miles away, so again, I think DEP should focus on this,” Aniel said.

He recommended a moratorium on wind power projects be enacted to protect the public and urged DEP to update Maine’s standards concerning inaudible noise.

Steve Thurston, a seasonal Roxbury Pond resident, told officials they held the health and well-being of the community in their hands and should be mindful of that when making a decision on the project.

“Clearly, this project, if built, would subject hundreds of homes to intolerable noise,” Thurston said.

Kelly Sastamoine, whose father owns a camp at the pond, said the flicker effect would adversely affect her four children, three of whom are autistic and the fourth has epilepsy.

Antonio DeSalle, a Roxbury pond camp owner, worried about the reflection on the pond of spinning blades if he could see that reflection 20 feet from his camp.

Brad Blake of Cape Elizabeth believes wind power projects will pillage an area’s resources to create energy the benefits of which locals won’t reap.

Area resident Colleen Martineau was concerned about the pond’s bald eagle population if turbines are erected atop their thermal flying territory.

“How can the DEP approve a project that will devastate a region when it’s the DEP’s mission to protect this?” Martineau asked.

Some, like Roxbury Selectman John Sutton, his wife Cathy Sutton and former Selectman Mark Touchette argued for the project, saying it would provide substantial property tax relief and free electricity to a degree for Roxbury residents, an unprecedented offer by a wind power developer.

Project opponent Linda Kuras of Roxbury Pond said she believed wind power turbines were a bad idea in town. She also accused DEP of rubber-stamping wind power projects after one DEP official said they had yet to not approve one.

“I believe it’s a green project that’s turned into a greed project,” Kuras said. “That’s not a reason to put all of our health at risk. We’re just working folks trying to live peacefully where we grew up.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.