On 10-14-14 the Brown County Board of Health declared the 2.5 MW wind turbines at Duke Energy's Shirley Wind project in Brown County, Wisconsin, to be a “human health hazard”. That declaration was based on the Board of Health's five years of experience, research, and review of the evidence. On 12-15-15, Chua Xiong, now-resigned director of the Brown County Health Department (a separate entity from the Board of Health) declared that the Shirley Wind turbines are not a human health hazard. That declaration came after being in her new position as Health Director for only ten months, and after she conducted an extremely exclusionary review of the evidence and research submitted to her.
Shirley Wind has received global attention, and as such, Chua Xiong's determination has global health consequences. Wind energy proponents are already using, and will continue to use, Chua Xiong's determination to justify the permitting of more irresponsibly sited wind projects like Shirley Wind. Health Director Xiong's misguided determination will be responsible for widespread harm to public health if not challenged and ultimately dismissed as lacking validity.
Brown County Citizens for Responsible Wind Energy (BCCRWE) has produced a document (provided below) for the purpose of providing evidence that demonstrates that Chua Xiong’s conclusion regarding wind turbines and health concerns lacks validity and that her conclusion was based on a very flawed process by which submitted evidence was selectively reviewed and inconsistently weighed, or ignored altogether. The document demonstrates that Xiong's evidence-review process was fraught with a multitude of failures of due diligence and that her resulting conclusion is without merit.
This document was presented on May 18, 2016, to the Brown County Board of Supervisors, along with the following formal request for action by the Board.
A decision is anticipated within the next several weeks:
“BCCRWE formally requests that the Brown County Board of Supervisors review the facts presented and take the necessary steps to have former Health Director Chua Xiong’s determination regarding Shirley Wind officially dismissed, and to take action to protect the health of adversely affected Shirley Wind residents.”
BCCRWE is requesting that you, the reader, participate in this effort. If, after reading BCCRWE's document, you agree that the evidence presented demonstrates that former Health Director Chua Xiong failed to carry out her due diligence, and that her determination was based on a very flawed process and needs to be officially dismissed, please share your thoughts via email with the following Brown County officials. Please also ask these officials to share your email with their fellow board or committee members.
- Troy Streckenbach, County Executive (top county official who will hire the new Health Director, now that Chua Xiong has resigned)
- Patrick Moynihan, Chairman: Brown County Board of Supervisors
- Eric Hoyer, Chairman: Brown County Human Services Committee (the committee that the Health Director reports to)
- Dr. Jay Tibbetts, Chairman: Brown County Board of Health (the Board that declared the Shirley Wind turbines a "human health hazard")
Dear Brown County Board of Supervisors,
BCCRWE is submitting this report to express their concerns regarding former Health Director Chua Xiong’s decision regarding Shirley Wind, including her review of the documents submitted to her, and those who assisted her in that review. The report begins with a six-page summary of those concerns, followed by 12 exhibits of supporting evidence, and one appendix.
I wish to state up front that my statements on behalf of BCCRWE and its members are based on the best information available to us, and that they are not a personal attack against Chua Xiong or others involved. Rather, our intent is to present evidence that demonstrates that Chua Xiong’s conclusion regarding wind turbines and health concerns lacks validity and that her conclusion was based on a very flawed process by which submitted evidence was selectively reviewed and inconsistently weighed, or ignored altogether.
BCCRWE was very involved in submitting documents to Chua Xiong and the Board of Health, documents which, in our opinion, provided broad and compelling evidence demonstrating the known potential for adverse human health impacts from industrial wind turbines sited in proximity to human populations.
In support of the evidence submitted prior to the Board of Health declaring the Shirley Wind turbines a “human health hazard”, we submitted an abundance of additional credible evidence from world-recognized experts, including peer-reviewed papers, health impact studies of wind project residents, expert witness testimony from several recent court cases regarding health impacts from wind turbines, papers from professional acoustical conferences, and much more. Together, these documents provided a full spectrum view of the evidence necessary to make the determination that wind turbines are known to have the potential to cause adverse health effects for some residents living in their environs.
Despite all of the evidence at her disposal, Chua Xiong concluded that there is not a relationship between wind turbines and health concerns, and therefore, decided that the Shirley Wind turbines are not a human health hazard. In our opinion, in arriving at her decision, Chua Xiong failed to perform her due diligence on the following counts:
Prior to making her determination, Chua Xiong:
- Failed to review the majority of the evidence submitted to her, omitting 35 peer-reviewed papers, 19 studies of residents living in wind projects (6 of which were peer-reviewed), 10 relevant conference papers, 40 papers rebutting the three governmental reports that she did accept, and much more, for a total of 175 documents she did not review at all, as evidenced by their absence from the SUMMARY LOG report submitted to the Human Services Committee that lists all the documents that she did review (See Exhibit A)
- With regard to the balance of the submitted evidence that she did review, failed to consider the entire body of evidence, electing to only conduct a literature review that employed highly restrictive selection criteria, and that was not based on any Board of Health directive or any requirement imposed on her. These self-limiting criteria resulted in the exclusion of all but five documents, and excluded all on-the-ground evidence from Shirley Wind, including notarized adverse health impact statements from affected residents (including case crossover reports), ILFN tests conducted at Shirley Wind by the nation’s leading acoustical experts that measured high levels of wind turbine-generated infrasound and low frequency noise (ILFN) emissions including frequencies in the nauseagenicity range, and all other evidence provided in the “Blue Binder”
- Failed to apply her own self-limiting selection criteria to 3 of the 5 documents that she did select as having merit, while using those same criteria to reject all other documents submitted to her by expert authors from across the globe that demonstrate a relationship between wind turbines and health concerns, characterizing them as being “without merit” for one reason or another (See Exhibit B)
- Failed to broaden her understanding of the issue by speaking with experts having extensive knowledge and experience regarding the potential health impacts from wind turbines (See Exhibit C)
- Failed to accept an offer from acoustician Richard James to set up a Skype discussion with numerous global experts regarding health impacts from wind turbines, and an offer from Carmen Krogh to make a presentation, free of charge, that would include a discussion of children as a vulnerable population group
- Failed to speak with Board of Health members regarding their five years of experience dealing with the issues at Shirley Wind that led to their human health hazard declaration, despite having publicly stated she would speak with them.
- Failed to meet with BCCRWE, who had been working with affected residents and researchers concerning this issue for six years, although she stated publicly that she would meet with BCCRWE.
- Failed to interview most residents who were affected - only interviewing six residents among the dozens who filed complaints or who had abandoned their homes – and only did so after repeated requests by most of these residents
- Failed to spend any time in the abandoned homes, despite being offered the opportunity to do so, and failed to visit the homes of residents still living in their homes who filed complaints with the Health Department and continue to feel ill
- Failed to select an individual to assist her (with reviewing the submitted documents) who had the specific education or experience necessary for properly assessing the evidence presented (See Exhibit D)
- Failed to conduct her ongoing review process with transparency or accountability, while declaring that her decision would be “final”
- Failed to allow the Board of Health to review her findings or provide input on those findings before making her decision “final”
- Failed to publicly acknowledge her own repeated personal adverse health impacts experienced at Shirley Wind, as she revealed in her November 21, 2015 email to Carolyn Harvey (See Exhibit E), while declaring on December 15, 2015, that the evidence does not support a relationship between wind turbines and health concerns
- Failed to employ the precautionary principle to protect the health of Shirley Wind residents, when the evidence provided overwhelming reason to do so by clearly demonstrating the potential to cause acute or chronic illness in some residents (as stated in the county ordinance regarding human health hazards), choosing instead to require that the much higher standard of a direct causal link be proven (See Exhibit F) before any action would be taken, and in so doing failed to carry out the mission statement of the Brown County Health Department to “protect and promote individual and community health through education, regulation and leadership to empower community members to attain well-being across the lifespan”
After making her determination, Chua Xiong:
- Failed to answer written questions posed by Board of Health Vice Chairman Dr. Jay Tibbetts at the January 12, 2016, Board of Health meeting (See Exhibit G)
- Failed to make herself available to meet with interested parties following the December 15, 2015 Special Board of Health meeting
- Gave a PowerPoint presentation to the Human Services Committee that appears to have been prepared by Jeanne Hewitt, rather than herself, describing the process that was used to review documents and reach her conclusion
- Failed to respond to certain questions asked of her by Chairman Patrick Evans at the January 27, 2016, Human Services Committee meeting
- Failed to answer questions asked of her by the public at the January 27, 2016, Human Services Committee meeting (See Exhibit H)
- Failed to appear at the February 24, 2016, Human Services Committee meeting at which she was scheduled to present a document detailing her disposition process for each document submitted to her for review, including how each document either met or failed to meet each of the 8 criteria she used for selecting documents
- Failed to appear at the March 8, 2016, Board of Health meeting at which she was scheduled to give a presentation to Board of Health members describing her document review process
- Resigned from office, effective March 18, 2016, the same day Corporation Counsel Juliana Ruenzel resigned, and the same day that the long-overdue open records request responses for communications between Xiong and other parties of interest were finally released
Evidence from open records requests for Chua Xiong communications:
Email communications between Chua Xiong and Troy Streckenbach, Carolyn Harvey, Jeanne Hewitt, and Karen Sanchez paint the picture of a Health Director, who:
- During the time when she needed to be pouring over the evidence submitted to her, was overwhelmed with learning and carrying out the responsibilities of her new position, busy preparing her first departmental budget and incorporating the new budget cuts, planning the move of her department to a new building, and consequently having difficulty finding time to review the submitted documents.
- Delegated much of the document review to Carolyn Harvey, a 2014 biology/anatomy graduate currently attending graduate school, whose medical work experience consists primarily of working as a CNA from 2010 to present, and who had no training in acoustics and little or no prior experience or knowledge regarding health impacts from wind turbines. (See Exhibit I for more regarding Carolyn Harvey’s influence on Chua Xiong)
- Relied on her former professor and self-described “mentor”, Jeanne Hewitt, for direction in reaching her decision, although Ms. Hewitt had no training in acoustics and little or no prior experience or knowledge regarding health impacts from wind turbines. (See Exhibit J for more regarding Jeanne Hewitt’s influence on Chua Xiong)
- May have been influenced by a much-discredited document written by pro-wind propagandist Mike Barnard, who has been censured from distributing this same document over the internet by his employer, and who has no medical or health related training or degree, or any other known technical, professional or academic qualifications with direct relevance to wind turbine noise or health. This document seeks to discredit several of the expert authors whose papers were submitted to Chua Xiong. A defamation lawsuit is currently in process by several plaintiffs who Mr. Barnard named in this and other documents he authored. His document was submitted to Chua Xiong by Karen Sanchez, a recent Board of Health appointee not present during the Board’s five years of experience with Shirley Wind leading up to their human health hazard declaration. (See Exhibit K for more regarding Mike Barnard)
- Even though Duke Energy’s argument has focused on jurisdiction rather than health, and even though Brown County Corporation Counsel Juliana Ruenzel gave her opinion on 10-14-14 that Wis Stats 251.04(7) and 66.0401(1m) provide a legal basis to take action to protect public health, and even though Massachusetts superior court justice Christopher Muse ordered curtailment of wind turbine operation at Falmouth, Massachusetts in order to prevent “irreparable harm” to wind turbine neighbors, and even though the ILFN measured at Shirley Wind falls into the same nauseagenicity range of 0-1 Hz as was measured at Falmouth, Chua Xiong seemed to be more concerned about the cost and difficulty of winning a lawsuit than about protecting the health of Shirley Wind residents whose suffering she clearly believed was real, as indicated by the following:
From the minutes of the December 15, 2015 Special Board of Health meeting, Chua Xiong stated the following:
“I have also listened to the concern expressed by the citizens affected by the wind turbines. I empathize with their expressed concerns and cannot imagine the emotional and physical stress they have experienced. I hear you, you’re not crazy, it’s not in your head, and you’re not lying. I want you to know that.”
And, in a December 16, 2015 email, Chua Xiong wrote:
“I want you to know as board of health members who were at the meeting yesterday, I was choked up because I had a heart for these residents suffering, but could not find enough scientific evidence base research to suffice a law suit. Yes, personal testimony can be used for sympathy, but in the courts, facts and laws are what is won. We would lose and pay millions of dollars going to court for years.”
BCCRWE is not alone in the opinion that Chua Xiong failed the test of due diligence and that her conclusion is without merit, and should be formally dismissed.
Several experts who have reviewed the documents and evidence that Chua Xiong had at her disposal have come to the same conclusion, and have publicly stated their positions in documents shown in Exhibit L. These experts include the following:
- Robert Rand - ASA, INCE, ASCAP, acoustical expert participating in both the 2012 PSCW-commissioned ILFN study at Shirley Wind, Brown County, Wisconsin, and the ILFN study at Falmouth, Massachusetts, and who suffered significant adverse health effects while conducting each of these studies
- Jerry Punch - PhD, Professor Emeritus MI State University, Audiologist
- Stephen Ambrose - INCE Bd. Cert., acoustical expert participating in the ILFN testing performed at Falmouth, Massachusetts, where he suffered adverse health effects while conducting that study
- Steven Cooper - MSc, P.E., acoustical expert who conducted and authored the groundbreaking ILFN study performed at Cape Bridgewater, Australia
- Paul Schomer – PhD, Standards Director, Emeritus, Acoustical Society of America, and acoustical expert participating in the 2012 PSCW-commissioned ILFN study at Shirley Wind
- Richard James - INCE, Adjunct Professor Central Michigan University, acoustical expert who performed extensive ILFN measurements at adversely affected Shirley Wind residences
- Dr. Robert McMurtry - M. D., Member of the Order of Canada. Fellow of Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, Fellow of the American College of Surgeons
- Carmen Krogh - Pharmacist, wind turbine health effects researcher-Health Canada, peer-reviewed author, Queen Elizabeth II Medal-2002, 2014 (Public Service Award)
Perhaps for Brown County’s legal consideration, one of the most important of these documents is a Professional Caution issued by Institute of Noise Control Engineers member Robert Rand regarding Health Director Xiong’s disregard of his professional judgment regarding adverse health conditions at Shirley Wind. (See Exhibit L for this Professional Caution)
BCCRWE Request to Brown County Board of Supervisors
BCCRWE formally requests that the Brown County Board of Supervisors review the facts presented and take the necessary steps to have former Health Director Chua Xiong’s determination regarding Shirley Wind officially dismissed, and to take action to protect the health of adversely affected Shirley Wind residents.
Jim Vanden Boogart
President: Brown County Citizens for Responsible Wind Energy