fish on bikeOctober 5, 2013 Sherri Lange  CNE turbine out of touch with promotional activity that also deludes the public re “green” turbines


The North American Platform Against Wind Power (NA-PAW) learned yesterday that no permit or licence is required by TREC (Toronto Renewable Energy Cooperative) and WindShare, to run their second annual stair climb of the promotional wind turbine at Exhibition Place.  Despite international calls for increased setbacks and safety re fires, blade throws, and other failures, and frightening levels of industrial accidents, more than any other energy production system, the CNE turbine climb organizers have been given “permission” by Toronto Hydro, to proceed with a possibly dangerous event.  Other wind turbines around the world and the province are heavily posted with warning signs for stray voltage, danger of turbine blade failure, to name a few of the precautions. NA-PAW is attempting to determine if a hazards assessment was done prior to the planning of this event. According to organizers, the facility is in production of electricity, not hydrogen, as designated by signs posted nearby.

According to Ontario Ministry of Labor documents and discussions, and explorations across North America, a draft policy and investigation regarding safety issues regarding climbing turbines is under way in some jurisdictions. However, at this time, we cannot locate agreed on safety policy, nor implementation of practices for safety of electrical hazards, or other industrial protections regarding turbine climbs.

Worldwide, the astonishing number of industrial accidents accrues. According to Sherri Lange, CEO of NA-PAW, the industry virtually has a “licence to kill.”  (This is reflected in the permits to kill endangered species in specific numbers, as well as harm habitat, “take permits,” as well as derelict duty to protect human health.) There are no fire regulations, little or no ability for developers to put out fires that occur, and no standby equipment that can reach 150-500 feet to stabilize or extinguish fires. Arran Elderslie in Ontario has instituted a bylaw requiring that such equipment be ready and able before developers build, and it is interesting to note that this Municipality that places the safety and health of residents above all else, does not have turbines.

“What this promotional feel good activity does, purportedly,” says Lange, “is add to the false sense of security that people may have with respect to wind turbines, seeing them as friendly and benign, when indeed they are industrial electrical production centres, and obviously acknowledged by the industry from their signage and contracts with “hosts”, as posing possible danger to the public.”

The event is open to those 18 years and older, and participants must sign a waiver. NA-PAW has requested a copy of that waiver. As well, it is forwarding safety concerns to Yasir Naqvi, the Ontario Minister of Labor, and the Premier, Kathleen Wynne.

“The CNE turbine has long been touted as an emblem urban turbine, and has only served to “confuse” the public about “green” energy objectives versus realities,” says Lange.  “It has suffered several gear and bearing failures, a bankruptcy in its infancy, and other operational failures.  It is certainly proving to be a financial boondoggle to the taxpayers of Toronto.”

“A turbine stair climb event at this time, given the international knowledge of the non-performance and hazards of wind turbines is ludicrous and in our view patently fraudulent,” added Lange.  “The failed green fantasy of Europe should be a valuable lesson:   Jobs are lost, many countries are suffering from energy poverty, we might say, “destitution,” due to the now exorbitant cost of power. (Less than ½ of one percent of our electricity is produced worldwide despite about 240,000 turbines.)”

“The time for governments and all fire authorities to protect the public from the dangers of wind turbines is long overdue,” said Lange.  To obtain an expert viewpoint on the turbine stair climb event, we contacted Bill Palmer, P. Eng.

“As a professional, whose career has focused on protection of the public, I am dismayed to see a wind turbine climb planned as a publicity stunt.

We know of over 14 who have died in falls from wind turbines, at least one “visitor” died when he succumbed to a heart attack in a climb, and over 20 workers have died in wind turbines due to electrical contacts, fires, falling parts, or being caught in moving equipment. A wind turbine is not a harmless toy; it is a high risk industrial location, and no place for untrained, unprepared members of the public who are out for a thrill – this is not like taking a Ferris wheel ride. If a wind turbine is considered to be an amusement device, this use would require prior certification by the Ontario Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA).”


(Bill Palmer is a P. Eng. with over 40 years professional experience in protecting members of the public and workers from hazards.)

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