Turbine construction and maintenance have negative impacts on environment

Posted 20 February 2018 at 9:01 am


On February 15, 2018, Orleans Hub posted this comment from a Lighthouse wind supporter: “Wind Energy emits no air or water pollution, requires no mining or drilling, uses virtually no water, and creates no hazardous or radioactive waste.”

This individual has taken no effort to research such a statement. If she had, this is what she would have learned. These 600-plus feet industrial wind turbines do not materialize out of thin air. The Mineral Information Institute slogan states that if it can’t be grown it has to be mined.  All of the raw materials have to be mined or drilled.

The cement, gravel, and rebar to form the concrete base are mined. Steel and cast iron to build the tower is mined. Copper for the electrical wire to transmit electricity both inside and transmission is mined and its plastic coatings are made from oil (drilled).

A wind turbine contains more than 8,000 components – many from rare earth minerals that are mined. An MIT study cited that one 2MW turbine contained 800 pounds of neodymium and 130 pounds of dysprosium (both rare earth minerals) to form the magnets needed to transform the mechanical energy of the turning blades into electrical energy for transmission. Mining and drilling produces air and water pollution. Water is used in the manufacturing processes to transform ores into components and in concrete production.

In addition, mining one ton of rare earth minerals produces one ton of radioactive waste.  Mining, processing, and producing wind turbine components produces more radioactive waste than using nuclear energy to generate electricity – and the nuclear reactors produce more electricity as well as a reliable consistent supply.

Inside the nacelle, components are kept lubricated by hydraulic fluids – oil products that are drilled. Hydraulic oil that has to replaced as part of the maintenance on a regular basis. This has resulted in oil spills at turbine sites which pollute local waters. Also one of the new California wind facilities has had oil leak problems as soon as it began operating. One of the jobs is to clean the hydraulic oil off the turbine tower.

And what happens when a turbine catches fire and the only option is to let it burn itself out?  Black smoke and hazardous wastes pollute the air. If a blade fails and flies off the turbine, what happens to that waste?

All of this information is readily available and more if one chooses to open one’s eyes and mind.  We have more to lose than money.

Betty Wolanyk