WINDFARMS NEGATIVE - CONTAMINATION OF AQUIFERS AND GROUND WATER
AS IF VISUAL BLIGHT, NOISE, BIRD-KILLS AND FIRE HAZARD WERE NOT ENOUGH!
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STUDIES DO REFLECT THAT RISK. SOME SAY IT MAY RANK AS HIGH AS "SEVERE" ON THE RISK EVALUATION SCALE.
HERE ARE SOME REVEALING QUOTES FROM AN ENVIRONMENTAL STUDY FOR A WINDFARM IN SCOTLAND - Muaitheabhal/Eishken project - Appendix 3.2 - see: EISHKEN (http://www.iberica2000.org/documents/EOLICA/LEWIS/EISHKEN_EAGLE_KILLER.doc)
"7.57. A pollution incident during construction could have an impact of major magnitude on the water quality of the surface and ground waters of the area, potentially irrevocably damaging the ecology."
"10. During the upgrading works a number of potential pollutants may be present on site, including oil, fuels, chemicals, unset cement and concrete. Any pollution incident occurring on the site may detrimentally affect the water quality of the nearby surface waters and groundwater. Where there are fisheries and water supply interests this may have a significant impact."
"11. Similarly there is likely to be ground disturbance during the upgrading works, which may prompt soil erosion and sediment generation. Sediment transport in the surrounding watercourses and lochans may result in high turbidity levels which will impact on the ecology, fisheries interests and water supplies."
What is more, pollution is not limited to the construction phase. Contaminants will be used throughout the life of the farm: lubricants for the turbines, cooling oil for the transformers, cleaning liquids for the blades (dead insects form a paste that reduces performance). In addition, underground cables between turbines need to be oil-cooled, and leaks are possible.
There will be periodical oil changes for the turbines, involving about 400 litres for each of them. Accidental spills are bound to happen, and maybe some not-so-accidental ones as well. Leaks too may develop, as shown on this picture:
Oil leak along the mast of a turbine in Navarre, Spain. Courtesy of Iberica 2000
Many such incidents will go unreported, but in Germany 5 are already on record:
OIL SPILLS scroll down to these items:
- 111: oil leaks into ground - specialist firm called to clean up
- 171: oil leaks into ground - ongoing for a month
- 177: turbine destroyed by storm, oil spilled in protected area for drinking water supply
- 180: oil leaking into ground
- 186: 160 litres of oil leak in protected area for drinking water supply
Item 177 is interesting in that there have been many such crashes around the world. And as lubricating oil is stored in each nacelle (about 400 litres
for 2 Mw models), the oil is spilled. This website maintains a list of accidents:
Reviewing the accidents individually, we find item 48 which relates the collapse of 129 turbines in a major storm in India:
129 TURBINES COLLAPSE IN INDIA scroll down to item 48
This is a bit extreme, but even outside cyclones areas there have been a number of turbine collapses, fires, blade throws and other accidents - Germany, France, USA, New Zealand etc. - see:
COLLAPSES AND FIRES (http://www.iberica2000.org/documents/EOLICA/PHOTOS/)
255 ACCIDENTS IN GERMANY
ACCIDENT NEW ZEALAND (the title is in French, but the text is in English).
In Scotland, a project was turned down because of its impact on water supply to local residents:
DRUMDERG WINDFARM DECISION
"Campaigners fighting over 250 wind-farm projects across Scotland today hailed the rejection of Perthshire´s first wind-farm application as a victory for common sense. At a packed meeting in Perth City Hall, Perth and Kinross councillors voted by 8-2 to refuse planning consent for a 16-turbine development at Drumderg, overlooking "Bonnie Glenshee" and close to the A93 tourist route to Braemar. Concerns over the effects of excavation works on the water supply to local residents and the risks to a nearby Site of Scientific Interest were uppermost in the minds of councillors who spoke against the issue."
Source: press release from Scottish Wind Watch, January 19th 2005
SHORT NOTES FROM THE BEINN MHOLACH (aka PENTLAND ROAD) APPLICATION FOR PLANNING PERMISSION - LEWIS PEATLANDS SPECIAL PROTECTION AREA, BARVAS HILLS, OUTER HEBRIDES, SCOTLAND.
pages 3 & 4 - paragraph 6 - 11
The Scottish Environmental protection Agency requests additional information on:
- impacts on water
- chemical pollution
- oil cooled power cables: need for contingency measures for rapid response to burst cables
- foul drainage details
- oil storage and management arrangements
6.14 : no wastewater services near the site. Recommendation that it be provided.
The nature of the questions asked (pages 3 & 4) and the recommendation that wastewater services be provided on the windfarm site speak for themselves. One wonders how much contamination wilderness areas with pristine bodies of water will be receiving over the life of the "farms", for wastewater services are generally NOT being provided. And if they were, they would only collect liquids that are poured into them by workers, not the accidental spills, the leaks, the projections etc.
In Scotland, many of the areas chosen for the implantation of windfarms have bodies of water that are habitat to otters, ospreys, red-throated divers, black-throated divers, geese, wild swans and other waterfowl. Besides, famous whiskies are distilled using waters that started their land cycle as rain on the Scottish moors - where polluting windfarms are now being built.
Wildlife, drinking water, beer and whisky will be on the receiving end of the water contamination produced by up to 350 windfarms in Scotland alone. And yet there are serious doubts about the efficiency of these machines:
1) they produce a trickle of electricity - see: TRICKLE OF ELECTRICITY (http://www.iberica2000.org/documents/EOLICA/A_TRICKLE_OF_ELECTRICITY.doc)
2) they do not save on greenhouse gases - see.
Windfarms do not save on greenhouse gases.
TRANSLATION OF AN EXCERPT FROM THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STUDY OF THE VALENCIAN WIND ENERGY PLAN.
Spanish original posted here: CONTAMINATION (http://www.iberica2000.org/documents/EOLICA/CASTELLANO/PLAN_EOLICO_VALENCIANO/Contaminaci%C3%B3n_de_las_aguas.jpg)
184.108.40.206. - Ground water contamination during the construction phase.
Here we are considering the possibility of accidental spills to ditches and gullies, and to the soil itself, of remains of concrete, residues of machinery washes, oils, lubricants etc. The negative effects would have immediate repercussions, temporary and of short term duration. This impact may be classified COMPATIBLE to SEVERE, subject to precautionary measures in the management and execution of the construction, and in the environmental formation of the workforce.
220.127.116.11. - Geological risks.
Concerning the risks of mud slides, earthquakes, ground sinking or collapsing: in order to avoid possible risks and guarantee the stability of the terrain, these will have to be taken into consideration when the projects are laid on paper. The impact is thus considered to be temporary, recoverable through mitigation, of a short-term nature, local and not singular. The magnitude of the impact has been rated as MODERATE.
Equally, the vulnerability to contamination on the part of the aquifer, as per the geology map of the provinces of Alicante, Valencia and Castellón, may result from the high porosity of the ground or the development of cracks and quartzification. Special care will have to be exercised with eventual accidental spills that could infiltrate the aquifer.
The risk of contamination is important during the construction phase. Over a period which may last a year or more, workers will be handling industrial equipment and materials, including oil, washing liquids and other contaminating products, over a pristine area of the wilderness. Transport vehicles, cranes, bulldozers and other heavy equipment will be treading over the area, leaking oil as most vehicles do. "Accidental spills", as is mentioned in the official document, are likely - hence the COMPATIBLE to SEVERE rating.
Thereafter, contamination remains a risk during the life of the windfarm - 25 years*. Transformers lodged in the electrical substations are cooled by oil, hence the need for installing automatic fire-extinguishers. And wind turbines need oil to lubricate their moving parts: each one holds about 400 litres of oil in the nacelle (this is what fuels the fire when lightning strikes, or when there is a short in the generator - see picture below).
*actually much more than 25 years if the turbines are replaced by new ones at the end of their useful life - as they normally are.
Above picture courtesy of: www.rommersheim-gegenwind.de
It is in the nature of oil to leak. In Navarre, Spain, we took a picture of such a leak, which was visible alongside the column of a wind turbine (reproduced at the top of the page). In Altamont, California, we have a witnessed account of oil dripping along the blades:
- see: OIL DRIPPING
Another risk: substantial quantities of oil (400 litres) may be spilled when a turbine falls to the ground in a storm.
Above picture: courtesy of :www.darrylmueller.com/alarm.html ]
Finally, maintenance and repair operations may cause additional chemical aggressions to the water system. And who is to say if used oil will not be disposed of behind a bush when oil changes are made? Policing this would be near-impossible (not unlike ships at sea).
March 31st 2004
Other articles on "windfarms negative":
The negative effects of windfarms: links to papers published by Mark Duchamp
>> Autor: Mark Duchamp (03/04/2004)
>> Fuente: Mark Duchamp
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