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Bad Vibrations: Health Hazards of Geothermal and Wind Turbine Noise

Windmills at Kahuku on the island of Hawaii

BY SYDNEY ROSS SINGER - The sounds of geothermal drilling and operations and wind turbines create more than nuisance noise for those unfortunate enough to live near these facilities. Low frequency noise, or LFN, is also produced, and much of this is below the human threshold for hearing, although some people can feel the vibration.

This low frequency noise is the most harmful to human health and the environment.

LFN is considered less than 500 Hz, and is most harmful below 20 Hz, which is called infrasound and is lower than the human ear can hear. But this vibrational energy can still harm the body.

Depending on its intensity and duration, this vibrational energy can cause a condition called Vibro-Acoustic Disease, or VAD. VAD is a body-wide ailment, common for people exposed to industrial noise, including military personnel, pilots, flight attendants, and anyone else exposed for long periods of time to LFN.

The low frequency vibrations cause the tissues in the body to thicken, causing changes to the heart, lungs, blood vessels, and brain. The vibration also cleaves DNA resulting in mutations and cancer.

People living near drilling rigs and wind turbines have been shown to suffer from VAD as a result of their exposure to the noise. Animals living near these facilities also suffer health problems.

VAD can be divided into 3 stages, based on length of time of exposure to the low frequency noise.

Stage I is mild and occurs after 1-4 years of exposure. It causes slight mood swings, indigestion and heartburn, mouth/throat infections, and bronchitis.

Stage II is moderate and occurs after 4-10 years of exposure. It causes chest pain, definite mood swings, back pain, fatigue, fungal, viral and parasitic skin infections, inflammation of stomach lining, pain on urination and blood in urine, conjunctivitis, and allergies.

Stage III is severe and occurs with over 10 years of exposure to LFN. It causes psychiatric disturbances, hemorrhages of nasal, digestive and conjunctive mucosa, nose bleeds, varicose veins and hemorrhoids, duodenal ulcers, spastic colitis, decrease in visual acuity, headaches, severe joint pain, intense muscular pain, and neurological disturbances.

It should be no surprise that low frequency noise is used by the military as a weapon.

One of the problems with LFN is that LFN travels farther than higher frequencies. Depending on conditions, it can travel many miles from the source. People can be affected by these vibrations without realizing it. They may feel nervous, depressed, or agitated and not know why. They may develop breathing problems and a cough without realizing it is caused by some energy plant miles away.

In addition, any noxious gas emissions from geothermal operation, such as hydrogen sulfide, may cause more trouble in people exposed to LFN, since LFN damaged lungs are impaired in their ability to cleanse and heal.

And it's not just humans who are affected. Animals pick up the vibrations, too, which can drive them away, if they can get away, and interfere with their reproduction. Nesting birds are known to be disturbed by LFN. Endangered species in critical habitat, however, may not be able to get away from the noise and vibration, making LFN a serious threat to their survival.

Unfortunately, current measurements of noise pollution use sound meters that ignore these low frequencies. Low frequency noise pollution goes unmeasured, unmentioned, and unmitigated by current geothermal plant designs in Hawaii. However, there are noise mitigation companies which specialize in LFN measurement and abatement which are used by geothermal and wind plants elsewhere.

Bottom Line: Geothermal and wind energy production creates low frequency noise pollution. Exposure to LFN can cause disease and death. These LFN are not currently recognized, measured or considered by government regulators and public health officials. Utility companies that cause this pollution do not measure for it. Plans to expand these technologies and their noisy footprint pose a public health threat, and may also threaten wildlife and degrade ecosystems, including endangered species and their critical habitat.

Here is a quote from the world's leading expert on LFN and VAD, Dr. Mariana Alves-Pereira, University of Portugal (personal communication):

“The sleep environment is of the utmost importance. People who sleep in "low-level" LFN-contaminated homes see a rapid progression of symptoms. Please note that people who do not have LFN-infested homes, but who work in LFN environments, also register sleep disturbances.
The importance of recovery times is absolutely crucial. People who work in LFN and are then away from it outside work hours develop LFN-induced pathology at a slower rate than those who get no respite from this agent of disease.

“Our advice if you have a LFN-infested home: LEAVE IMMEDIATELY! It is possible to continue to fight against the causes of the LFN in the home, but not while living in it! Simply because, as time goes on, dwellers of such a home will get progressively ill, and will lose the ability (and even the will) to fight.

“I cannot stress this enough. If you know people who are complaining of LFN in their homes, please urge them to leave, at the very least, leave for a few hours a day, or better still, be there in the day but do not sleep in that house. Look at it this way: if people were told that there was a poison contaminating their homes, would they live in them? Although you cannot see nor smell LFN, and sometimes you cannot even hear it, if it is infesting the home 24/7, it becomes a most dangerous and fast debilitating agent of disease. It is not a defeat to leave the LFN-contaminated home. It is a smart thing to do if one wishes to put up a fight. Remaining in the home will annihilate all desire and capacity to fight the cause of in-home LFN, because one will get increasingly sick and debilitated.”

For more information on VAD, contact the Institute for the Study of Culturogenic Disease at 808-935-5563.

For information on geothermal, contact Puna Pono Alliance http://punapono.com/

For more on wind energy noise concerns, go to I Aloha Molokai http://ialohamolokai.com/

References:

1. Vibroacoustic Disease
http://www.noiseandhealth.org/article.asp?issn=1463-1741;year=2004;volume=6;issue=23;spage=3;epage=20;aulast=Castelo

2. The clinical stages of vibroacoustic disease

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10189154

3. Monitoring Vibroacoustic Disease
http://noisefree.org/monitor.pdf

4. Vibroacoustic Disease in a Ten Year Old Male
http://www.usvaw.org/web_documents/vibroacoustic_disease.pdf

5. Vibroacoustic disease; the need for a new attitude towards noise
http://fracdallas.org/docs/VAD1.html

Short URL: http://www.hawaiireporter.com/?p=209933

22 Comments for “Bad Vibrations: Health Hazards of Geothermal and Wind Turbine Noise”

  1. The research you are quoting regarding vibroacoustic disease was addressing noise at levels of greater than or equal to 90 decibels sound pressure level (dB SPL). This is equivalent to a diesel truck idling 30 feet away. Even a vacuum cleaner only 3 feet away produces only 70 dB SPL. 90 dB SPL is very loud, much louder than what residents would hear from nearby geothermal drilling. Also, the studies were examining long-term exposure of greater than or equal to 10 years in occupational settings. It is a good topic to look into for residences near PGV, but to directly apply the findings of those studies to the situation in Puna is scientifically unsound and alarmist. It may be the unfortunate situation that no research has been done for the lower levels of noise generated by wind turbines or geothermal cooling fans. Here's a chart of typical sound levels to put it all into perspective: http://www.sengpielaudio.com/TableOfSoundPressure...

    • Andrew Gentile
      Certified Medical Hypnotherapist and well known HACK for the geothermal industy

      • I have a Bachelors in Biochemistry and a Masters of Science in Environmental Management - degrees that are much more relevant to the topic at hand than Medical Anthropology. I work as an environmental analyst who evaluates the environmental and social impacts of various kinds of projects. The ethics of my job require absolute scientific integrity. I happen to have a long history of analyzing the impacts of geothermal. How do you extend my being a scientific expert in a topic into being a hack for the geothermal industry? Unfortunately the Puna discussion has been dumbed down to emotionally charged soundbites that are rarely based on fact. Having Singer throw a bunch of inapplicable big words, statistics and acronyms into the enraged hands of an emotionally charged community does nothing for the rationality of the discussion. This is an emotional topic for the residents of Puna, I understand that. You live in an incredibly magical and beautiful place - a real paradise, a real oasis. But for Singer to take studies done on VAD, which has been documented only in the context of Occupational Health and Safety and which does not have any evidence of applying at the distances being talked about in Puna does nothing for the cause and only causes distraction from the real issues at hand.

      • Hi Andrew,
        We are seriously considering buying a home near one of the proposed geothermal drilling sites in Puna (near 4 corners). I’m not sure of your knowledge in this area, but any insight would be greatly appreciated!
        My greatest concern would be living near a power plant with a lot of EMF activity.
        Do you know if geothermal drilling sites also produce electricity at the same location – to be distributed to other locations?
        Personally, I would be concerned living near a power plant derived from any source. Do you have any thoughts on this matter? Is electricity created at the actual location of the drilling?
        Thank you for sharing your knowledge in these postings!
        Lynette

      • Oh, I forgot to say HI LISA HILDWINE!!!

  2. Large industries which contribute to noise pollution, at low frequency levels, DO NOT want to have a connection made with their noise production resulting in Vibro-Acoustic Disease and or Wind Turbine Syndrome (please note that VAD and WTS are not one in the same). Think about how much money these industries stand to lose in law suits alone, and then, let us not forget to add new changes in noise regulation laws that they would have to follow to protect citizens, environment, and wildlife, especially new laws protecting endangered species. I would think that these industries might even fear going bankrupt having to shovel out all that money in legal fees and to the multitude of people who will win very large court awarded settlements, and then have to find ways to retrofit, or even completely redesign, relocate, and basically...go back to the drawing board to find a way to stay in compliance with noise regulations that would protect against LFN.
    But wait...there is more...Let us now ask; Are there others that would like to keep LFN related health problems a secret? The answer is an over whelming yes! The monies generated from those suffering from LFN exposure, for the medical field is not something doctors and hospitals would like to see taken off their paycheck. Even Psychiatrists stand to have less patients suffering. And, how would governmental officials ever get re-elected after it is shown on paper that they helped fund these hazardous projects with our tax dollars opposed to insisting upon spending monies on research to protect the very same voters that gave them their seat in office?
    With such risks at stake, it would then not seem inconceivable, that these industries, medical fields, and government officials, would therefore do what ever it takes to prevent this health risk connection from surfacing. Yet, the fact remains, people exposed to LFN are indeed suffering physically, mentally, emotionally and financially. This reality is why people are concerned and the topic is increasingly being risen all over the world as more and more people are exposed. Even with those who would like to try and discredit authors and researchers, their attempts will not show true merit. and forthright information will in the end, shine as truth. Such as in the case of a comment on this article, made by Andrew Gentile. This person seeks to discredit this article and his efforts to help us "put it all into perspective" by referring us to a sound pressure chart site, in my opinion only strengthens the case of negative effects of LFN. You see, I took this advice and read this chart. My findings were that higher decibel sound pressure levels can cause pain and damage hearing...this was listed on the chart for 90 dBA and above. And since Mr. Gentile, generously gave the lower example of only 70 dB, I decided to check the data of 65 dBA which stated; " Bad risk of heart circulation disease at constant impact is possible". The chart that we are being referred to pertains to sound that we CAN hear. I find it interesting that although our heart has no eardrum, it is harmed by sound. Which gives support to this article's stand that what CANNOT be heard, can and will be harmful. So, I do agree with one part of Mr. Gentile's comment, it IS unfortunate that lower levels of noise lack in research. Thank you for your helpful perspective. It has helped myself and hopefully others see how industries like Geothermal and Wind Power Plants stand the risk of bankruptcy, but those living in a LFN contaminated environment are having their lives be put at risk.

    • That's all very nice and sensationalist, Janeel, but you are using classic and typical conspiracy logic, which is really just a leap of speculation that it is POSSIBLE that SOMEONE may be suppressing SOMETHING. All you have done in your above comment is to lay out the plot for an interesting novel. The point her is that VAD only exists in the context of people being exposed to sounds above 90 dB for a duration of 10 years or more. This is the topic of occupational safety and something that a Certified Industrial Hygienist should be consulted on. Neither of the variables of loudness (90 dB) or duration (10 years) that result in documented VAD symptoms would apply to residents living near PGV. Now, sound as an annoyance is a different matter altogether - this is a very real concern, and one that PGV has apparently responded to with its commitment to sound barriers. I'm curious, have sound measurements been taken at the nearest residences? If not, the noise levels can be estimated as follows: The noisiest component of a geothermal plant is the cooling towers. Drilling is short-term, typically a max of 3 months per well. Noise decreases at a rate of 6 dB for every doubling of distance. You can use this to estimate the noise you are being exposed to by a drill rig or the cooling fans, first by measuring the distance on Google Earth to your residence. Drilling generates about the same level as noise as a permanent cooling tower - around 75 to 85 dBA at a distance of 50 feet. Intervening topography and vegetation (tall grasses, trees) will reduce the noise beyond the 6 dBA for every doubling of distance. The nearest building I can see on Google Earth that looks like it may be a residence is 1,400 feet from the cooling towers. That means, assuming the cooling tower or drill rig is operating at the high end of the noise range of 85 dBA at 50 feet, the noise would be 79 dBA @ 100 ft, 73 dBA @ 200ft, 67 dBA @ 400 ft, 61 dBA @ 800 feet, and about 56 dBA @ 1400 ft. Because of the topography and vegetation around PGV, this sound level would be quite a bit lower than 56 dBA. I would love to see the local residents be really educated on these topics. From what I understand, the main concern is with sleeptime noise. The World Health Organization recommends that continuous noise be below 30 dBA for sleeping. http://www.who.int/docstore/peh/noise/Commnoise4.... Now that's a topic to focus on. To get down to 30 dBA, you'd have to go 2.5 miles away. If we go back and assume 75 dBA as a starting point, then we're looking at 1.25 miles away. Again, this is without the blocking effects of the hills, trees, and other vegetation. And it is not considering that the coqui is generating sounds at 80-90 dBA (http://hawaii.gov/hdoa/pi/pq/coqui) in the immediate vicinity of most residences. I'm not on any side of this issue, but I am on the side of balanced, rational thought and discussion, so that reasonable and rationale solutions can be achieved. I hope I have been able to contribute some useful information here.

      • Thank you for your reply Mr. Gentile. With utmost respect, I give to knowledge. Unfortunately, I have a growing distrust for the wind industries and how our state government has been handling the planning of energy projects here in Hawaii. I am ignorant when it comes to geothermal, this I admit, so all information gained is worth learning about. I sincerely hope that through your own studies and research, that if and when you were to discover health hazards, that you will without doubt share that knowledge just as eagerly as you have shared your current findings. And please let us not forget...that there are great novels, movies, and plays, that are based on historical facts.

  3. we have enough fossil fuel that can be extracted to serve america's needs for the next 50 years or so!! this ddoesn't even include all the natural gas we have.too bad hawaii has to import all it's energy needs.if we can just keep gov't. out of our energy needs and let a free open market in all energy including all the all the alternative energy industries,hawaii will do a=ok!!

  4. Mr. Gentile, VAD is not only occupational, and it can impact people living near the source at lower intensity than for workers. Non-stop exposure of residents living and sleeping in the LFN polluted environment causes more damage than working in a noisy place and going home to a quiet place to sleep.

    And VAD can happen in less than 10 years. The 3 phases described in the article are for occupational exposure, which means these people had a break from the LFN at night. People exposed 24/7 experience VAD much earlier, and damage can happen to a fetus in utero. I suggest that you read some of the references provides, including the case study of the family with the 10 year old.

    Also, you miss the point about dB measurements ignoring LFN. Until measurements are actually taken to include LFN near the geothermal plant, we do not know the actual intensity of the noise. It is essential for this measurement to be made. Currently, all sound measurements in Hawaii ignore LFN, since they are using A-weighted.

    Drilling at geothermal plants can be longer than 3 months. PGV drilling has gone on for 9-12 months at a time, with no stop, 24/7. Again, the LFN and infrasound produced by this is not being measured.

    You also assume that trees and other vegetation are barriers to sound. They are to higher frequencies. However, LFN travels through these with little attenuation, which is why LFN travel so far, much farther than higher, audible frequencies.

    You present yourself as a disinterested party, but your answers suggest a bias for PGV. I suggest a bias should be towards more information and public health protection. Right now, the info is not there on LFN intensity, the threat is there for VAD, and people are complaining about health problems. Clearly, more research is needed PRIOR to proceeding headlong towards more LFN polluting energy, including wind.

    • Well done. I am glad that you responded. I noticed that he had no real defense when I called out the fact that at 65 dBA the heart was listed as being effected. He only chose to belittle my conspiracy novel...lol
      The real issue at hand is that people ARE suffering, and measurements need to be addressed and resolved. Regardless of those who would like LFN to continue to fall in the catagory of sound that can be heard and therefore only seek to hide behind higher noise frequency regulation laws. For the wind turbines, there has already been at least one person that has fallen victim to VAD. (and by the way...it was from living in her LFN contaminated home for less than 10 years of exposure, and not from occupational exposure.)

      • Hi Janeel - I apologize I didn't have time to look into the reference you pointed out in the sound table regarding the a constant exposure of 65 dBA having the potential to cause "heart circulation disease". That sound table does not have references for the health-related risks that it has inserted, and I was merely referencing it to give some context to the sound levels we are talking about, i.e. 70 dBA is a vacuum cleaner running 3 feet away. I would have a heart attack too if I had to listen to that 24/7 :) although I'd probably go insane before that. Here is a great overview article on the effects of chronic noise on health: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2007/aug/23/sci... What it is basically saying is that modern noisy environments (mostly urban) are affecting our ability to rest deeply, particularly during sleep, and that the noise causes rises in cortisol and adrenalin (stress hormones in the body). And so people with constant noise exposure have constant low level stress, and the fact that stress shortens our life span, diminishes our immune system and decreases our well being is no surprise to any of us. The article references 50 dBA as being the sound level of light traffic. Your guess is as good as mine as to what they mean by "light traffic". Window open? Closed? Single-paned glass? Double-paned glass? There are huge variables here. Going back to the sound chart, 50 dBA is like laying 3 feet from your refrigerator. Looking deeper, it seems that in 2011 the WHO released a publication that will be very useful, albeit highly technical, to those engaged in geothermal or wind noise discussions. The document is free to download from here (click on the word "English"): http://www.euro.who.int/en/what-we-do/health-topi... "Burden of disease from environmental noise. Quantification of healthy life years lost in Europe." Overall, it seems that geothermal drilling or cooling fans might, at the closest few residences, be generating noise around 50 dBA. This would normally be a problem during the nighttime in most locations where nighttime ambient noise levels are lower than daytime, but given the coqui in Puna chirping at 80-95 dBA after sundown, I don' t think the case for noise disturbance is going to be very convincing, particularly now that PGV has offered to put sound barriers around drill rigs. So that leaves us with the question of LFN and the possibility of VAD. I'll look into this more and respond to Mr. Singer's comment on that topic. I feel for the person who suffered from wind turbine noise. Wind turbine noise is a lot more challenging because the noise is being generated hundreds of feet into the air with no chance of muffling from vegetation or topography. That, combined with changes in wind direction, which can kind of blow noise in the downwind direction, makes for some real challenges for siting wind facilities anywhere near sensitive receptors such as residences. Geothermal does have a big advantage here of the noise generation over the long-term being from cooling fans that are 35-45 feet above the ground. This is a height at which the noise waves can be dispersed as they hit vegetation, tree trunks, buildings, and hillsides. And, if need be, it surely wouldn't be a huge expense for a power plant to build a 45-foot cement wall beside the cooling fans - the exact kind of walls that line freeways in Honolulu that cut right beside residential neighborhoods.

      • Thank you once again for sharing your knowledge Mr. Gentile. Highly appreciated. I will look into the sites to further my research. I personally live in one of the areas purposed for a wind turbine plant (one of the first houses facing it) and I am very sensative to noise and vibrations. I can't even run a vacuum cleaner for very long due to the noise and vibration, because I have epilepsy and neuromuscular issues. So I am very concerned about how LFN will contaminate to our environment. The LFN issues need to be addressed.

    • Mr. Singer, I feel like we are narrowing in on the scope of concern here, but there is still some filtering of information to do. You provide 5 references at the bottom of your article. Allow me to comment on each one:

      "1. Vibroacoustic Disease" This article starts by saying "VAD has been observed in LFN-exposed professionals, such as, aircraft technicians, commercial and military pilots and cabin crewmembers, ship machinists, restaurant workers, and disk-jockeys." These are all occupations involving intense noise exposure for long hours.

      The article then states "VAD has also been observed in several populations exposed to environmental LFN." Unfortunately the article never mentions what populations and what kinds of exposure.

      Table 1 of this article outlines the VAD disease model by years of exposure - this is the disease model that you relayed in the Hawaii Reporter article and that you reiterated in your comment above. You might have missed this in your review of the article, but the article explains how the table "refers to the signs and symptoms developed specifically by aircraft technicians working the standard 8 hrs/day, 5 days/week" and then goes on to say "If the LFN exposure is environmental and/or leisurely, the standard 8hr/day model is also not applicable." This is a big point here -- that 3-stage model of illness cannot be applied to environmental exposure.

      The article goes on to say the following: "One of the most difficult tasks of conducting studies related to LFN-induced pathology is the lack of viable control populations. By definition, in LFN-related studies, control populations are individuals who are not exposed to LFN. However, given the ubiquitous nature of LFN, control populations are not easy to find. Since the inadequate selection of control populations has given rise to conflicting results (ASTDR, 2001), it is pertinent to tackle this issue head on." This was an interesting point to me. LFN is ubiquitous. Common sources are our refrigerators, driving in cars, taking public transit (diesel engines give off a lot of LFN), heat pumps, cooling fans - so many of the things that make up modern living. This is not to diminish the potential ill effects of living in these noise environments, but just to say that this is not an environmental justice issue of low income or minority populations being disproportionately affected. And this is not a case of a big bad industrial operation imposing itself into an otherwise pristine and LFN-free environment and ignoring the effects it may have. This is an effect we all live with. Indeed, the world scientific leaders in these topics themselves admit that LFN exists everywhere and that we are only in the beginning stages of understanding it, recognizing it, and hopefully one day learning how to minimize it.

    • "2. The clinical stages of vibroacoustic disease". Only the abstract is available here, but the article opens with the VAD definition challenges I pointed out in my first comment. The abstract says "Vibroacoustic disease (VAD) is an occupational disease occurring in susceptible workers who have had long-term exposure (> or = 10 yr) to large pressure amplitude (> or =90 dB SPL) and low frequency noise (< or = 500 Hz)." This does not apply to environmental exposure and to extrapolate to a situation where we don't know the sound frequencies from drilling or cooling fans, or the SPLs, would be mere speculation. But I agree with you, this is a call for measurements to be made of frequencies and SPLs.

      "3. Monitoring Vibroacoustic Disease". This article doesn't say anything new. It basically is a reiteration of #1, above. It concludes with "A very important issue related to VAD and LFN-induced pathology is the difficulty of finding an adequate control population. Who is not exposed to LFN? The younger generations are exposed to LFN since their early teenage years, through the variety of leisurely activities that involve very large amounts of LFN. In urban settings, traffic and public transportation are recognized sources of noise in general, and of LFN in particular."

      "4. Vibroacoustic Disease in a Ten Year Old Male" Unfortunately individual case studies do not hold much scientific value. Only 3 people were studied (the boy, mother and father, i.e., n=3) and there is no control population. There is no accounting for family dietary, genetic, emotional or other factors that may be shared by these family members. I looked in Google Earth and found the neighborhood that this family lives in just outside of Lisbon. I believe I also found the mentioned grain mill across the river. The distance is about 1.3-1.5 miles. The neighborhood is raised up on a hill overlooking the river, meaning there is likely a direct line of sight between the residence and the grain mill. Grain looks to be transported from the ship to the silos on a long mechanized conveyer. LFN could come from the operation of this conveyor, from diesel generators on the ships when docked, or from other machinery. Only a body of water exists between the source of the sound and the residence, and as we know, sound travels very well across water, effectively bouncing off of it as it travels and keeping the sound waves strong even at quite a distance. This is a fairly unique situation and quite different than sound that would be absorbed by soft, moist soils and vegetation, and somewhat deflected by cane grass, trees and topography. In summary, this article represents a single case study with some unique circumstances not very applicable to the Puna situation.

    • "5. Vibroacoustic disease; the need for a new attitude towards noise" As before, this article opens with defining VAD as an *occupational* disease: "The importance of information technologies in public awareness of environmental issues is especially clear when a new occupational disease is identified." The article goes on to discuss VAD in the context of occupational hazards and concludes with only a question mark regarding extending the discussion of health effects outside of the work environment: "In modern society, LF noise is ubiquitous; not only is it found in most industrial environments, but also in nearly all public transportation, numerous leisure activities, and many urban residential areas. The extent to which LF noise exposure is responsible for Public health problems is unknown."

      After having looked through all of this, these are my recommendations:
      1. PGV, the County, or some other party, should commission a detailed analysis of the sound frequency profile from both drilling activities and from the ongoing operation of the cooling fans. No drilling is occurring at PGV, and so this can be done at an oil, gas, or geothermal drill site somewhere else such as the mainland.
      2. Noise measurements should be taken during quiet (coqui-free) daytime hours at various places from the PGV property line and farther into residential areas so an understanding of noise from the cooling fans can be gained. The difference in LFN near the cooling fans and at the various residential locations should give a good model for how LFN attenuates at various distances. This can be applied to model noise that would be generated from drilling.
      3. Measured noise levels for fans and modeled noise levels for drill rigs should be analyzed by a noise expert or team of experts to assess risk. Obviously there is a lack of research to base a risk assessment on, but an expert opinion could at least be generated.
      4. If concern persists after the analysis, noise mitigation measures should be discussed, such as concrete walls surrounding the cooling fans covered in sound absorbing material, and the application of soft, sound absorbing ground cover around the noise generation area to decrease sound wave reflection as sound moves away from the source.

    • The sound absorbing material idea comes from MIT, which identifies "Alternate mitigation measures include the construction of noise barriers, attenuation with LFN-absorptive ground cover, and modified operational procedures." Their report on airplane-generated LFN near airports can be read about here: http://web.mit.edu/aeroastro/partner/projects/pro....

      Now, with all of the science aside, I will respond on another plane.

      It is interesting that you interpret my commentary as a bias for PGV. Have you considered the other factors, that I might be biased toward renewable sources of energy? That I might be biased toward getting Hawaii energy independence? That I might be biased toward locally produced, reliable and sustainable energy that can lower electricity costs for Hawaiians? That I might be biased against oil spills, climate change, the destruction of drinking water around the globe so that Hawaii can continue its oil and gas addiction? That I might be biased toward saving entire African and South American indigenous communities from being relocated by Shell Corporation and corrupt governments because these people live above oil reserves? Might I be biased that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of a few? That the needs of countless thousands of people of color who have nothing but their homes and their communities outweigh the needs of a very few white folk who already have so much and who are trying to hold on to what they perceive to be a piece of paradise they have some kind of white-privilege entitlement around? The people of Puna need to wake up and see that they are living on the one little patch of all the State of Hawaii that has the potential to power ALL of Hawaii in a clean and sustainable way into perpetuity. The Big Island is a BIG island. There are other places to live. The County has the relocation fund in place, and the community has options. I'm not saying don't do the environmental studies, and I'm not saying PGV shouldn't do everything it can to study and minimize impacts, but I'm saying that the high-road off-the-grid folk of Puna need to be fair, think big picture, and step outside of their island mentality. Your lifestyles are sourced off-island, and so you must you extend your consciousness off-island. I am disappointed that a medical anthropologist, of all people, would have such a reactionary, fear-based and myopic view of the situation to think that this geothermal issue is "people versus the corporation". You of all people should be attuned to the impacts of fossil fuels on indigenous peoples around the globe and and see the incredible opportunity to take blood off of the hands of all Hawaiians through switching to a sustainable, renewable energy, of which geothermal is the cleanest and most reliable kind available. Geothermal is not "progress", it is evolution. It is a natural and healthy way forward for the state. The rest of Hawaii will depend on what happens on the Big Island. The people of Puna must come together, educate themselves (as they are doing) and begin to see their time has come to step out of the way and allow Pele to make her greatest gift to the entire Hawaiian population - energy independence.

  5. simple solution. nuclear reactors. clean,efficient,and quiet. and no need to import any fuel sources to run a reactor.once it gets on line,it will create our power needs indefinately.

  6. I have never considered the noise vibration to be a factor for geothermal or wind turbines that could be hazardous to the dwellers nearby. Maybe reinforced plastered celilings will help based on architecture.

  7. @shaftalley- forget nuclear.heavily subsidized and Honolulu is not fukushima,but it's a mess right now.

  8. I just wish I knew what it all meant. O.B.E. etc..but yet it seems my life is cursed. I believe in saving the world and to always do whats rite. and I've been known to heal ppl at times.Just not myself.Lol. I call it self sacrificing.

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