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Scituate considers shutting down wind turbine at night

About 30 Scituate families are complaining about health issues related to a wind turbine’s operation.

Jessica Bartlett for The Globe

About 30 Scituate families are complaining about health issues related to a wind turbine’s operation.

Scituate’s Board of Health will look more deeply into complaints about noise associated with the town’s wind turbine and is considering whether to turn it off at night, as residents continue to rally against the 400-foot-tall structure.

Residents have been complaining about effects from the turbine for several weeks, and met with Board of Health officials on Sept. 24 to discuss shutting down the turbine entirely.

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Meetings continued last Monday night, when Gordon Deane, president of Palmer Capital Corp. and manager of Scituate Wind LLC, met with health officials to offer his perspective. Palmer Capital is a major investor in Scituate Wind, which owns and operates the turbine.

According to Deane, the idea that the turbine is disrupting people’s lives is not based on scientific evidence, as shown in studies by the state Department of Public Health, the Department of Environmental Protection, and several reports out of Ontario, Canada.

“[Some reports] talked about the ‘nocebo’ effect, which has been reported in The Boston Globe and New York Times . . . if you tell enough people, it can have an effect. Some people can come down with [symptoms] as if they are taking a placebo. We’re concerned about misinformation campaigns out there about what can happen to people, because people believe those things,” Deane said in a telephone interview after the meeting.

Furthermore, Deane said, the turbine is meeting all regulations.

“We went through the proper permitting process,” he said. “We did the required studies, answered all the Planning Board’s requests, stated finding of fact, and went through the town bylaws, and we met the terms and conditions for installing the wind turbine. We believe it’s up and operating in compliance with its permits and state and federal regulations.”

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At this stage, Deane said, he is not open to shutting the turbine down at night.

Yet a partial shutdown of the turbine could be in the cards.

According to Jennifer Sullivan, director of Scituate’s Board of Health, the board has asked Scituate Wind to discuss the feasibility of shutting down the turbine part time while the machine’s effect is determined.

The town also will look into hiring a consultant to study the noise, though Sullivan said her agency does not have the budget for such a study.

In the meantime, a group of residents is calling for a permanent shutdown of the machine by Nov. 15, said Tom Thompson, a Third Cliff resident and an opponent of the turbine.

If not, the opposition plans to meet and take some type of further action, though Thompson would not specify what that might be.

“We’ll have to consider the appropriate response,” Thompson said. “At this point in time, [the Board of Health] are well-intended individuals and will make the right determination in defense of their residents.”

Although the Board of Health did not allow residents to give another presentation on their issues at last week’s meeting, Thompson said they will continue to be a presence at meetings as the issue moves forward.

Thompson added that opposition to the turbine is continuing to grow.

“There are probably 30 families anyway that have submitted e-mails and complaint forms to the Board of Health resulting from their personal experiences,” Thompson said, “and those run the gamut — headaches, nausea, dizziness . . . it’s sad what’s happened to some of our neighbors here.”

The Board of Health will meet on Oct. 29 to discuss its next steps.

Jessica Bartlett can be reached at jessica.may.bartlett@gmail.com.

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