'Wind Turbine Syndrome' Blamed for Mysterious Symptoms in Cape Cod Town


"Some people are more suggestible," said Dr. Elizabeth Bowman, a psychiatrist and adjunct professor at Indiana University, who is not familiar with the Falmouth cases. "This is not conscious, it's unconscious.

"What can happen across time is people think maybe this is real, my neighbor's got it," said Bowman. "They start to tune in more to their bodies and amplify and misinterpret normal body sensations."

Andersen, however, said he had no idea his neighbors were suffering when his symptoms began.

"Just come in to my house and feel the walls shaking," he said. "They say it's the nocebo effect, but people who sit on my front porch have to leave within a half hour -- they felt it. Early on, I had a financial adviser sit in my kitchen and within five minutes he was complaining about ear popping.

"Something is going on here, and it's affecting a lot of us physically and mentally," explained Andersen, who said he could no longer work in construction.

"They don't believe us," he said. "It's a very sad situation."

ABCNews.com called the town of Falmouth several times and sent emails, but the calls were not returned and the emails were not answered. The town's lawyer, Frank K. Duffy, also did not return calls.

According to Kim Fish, who is Duffy's paralegal, there are "just so many lawsuits."

The clerk at Barnstable Superior Court confirmed there were numerous lawsuits against the town and its Board of Health.

The Andersens have filed three lawsuits. The one in Barnstable Superior Court alleges the town violated the zoning bylaw, did not go through the proper permitting process for installing the wind turbines and did not hold "one single public meeting."

The second is a nuisance complaint that was initially denied by the building commissioner, but that decision was later overturned by the zoning board of appeals. "We are in the middle of proceedings for an injunction to stop the turbines until the case is heard," Andersen said.

A third private nuisance lawsuit was filed in federal court in Boston.

The Massachusetts Departments of Environmental Protection and Public Health recently commissioned a panel of experts to analyze existing research on the effects of noise, vibration and flicker of wind turbines on health. They concluded that wind turbines present little more than an "annoyance" to residents, and that limited evidence exists to support claims of devastating health impacts.

Earlier this year, the selectmen voted unanimously to take down the wind turbines as "the right thing to do," but when the town put the measure to a vote in April, it didn't pass, according to the Cape Cod Times.

Many Falmouth residents said they're baffled by the complaints.

"My neighborhood is 4,000 feet from the big ones, and we have zero effect," said Tom Stone, who spoke on behalf of the Woods Hole Research Center, where he is a scientist emeritus. Woods Hold Research Center owns the smaller turbine, which has not been the subject of lawsuits. "Houses are being sold on my street, and new houses are being built. It's not an issue.

"My son has been house-sitting one of the families who complained, and it doesn't bother their children but bothers their parents. I don't know what to make of it. Is it one of these things that bothers you if you are sensitive to it, or is it a stress reaction?"

One woman complained about the turbine at the research center, said Stone, but the turbine was not even in operation at the times she logged her symptoms.

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