R.I. Council: Block Island Wind Farm Not To Blame For Whale Death

Posted by Betsy Lillian on July 10, 2017 No Comments
Categories : New & Noteworthy

In response to the whale carcass recently discovered on a beach in Jamestown, R.I., and the suggestion by local newspapers that the death of the creature may have been caused by the Block Island Wind Farm, the state’s Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) is claiming there is no scientific evidence to prove the theory.

The government office cites information from the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), which says there has been no scientific evidence collected to date of any whales being injured or stranded due to offshore wind activities.

Moreover, observed data collected shows that operational offshore wind turbines generate sounds that are relatively low (approximately 134 decibels at the Block Island site); in comparison, rainstorms range from 100 to 120 decibels, and fishing vessels create sounds from 150 to 190 decibels, the CRMC says.

The council also claims that baleen whales do not use sonar to navigate or feed and are classified as low-frequency (10 to 31 kHz) vocalizers; they generally produce grunts, moans and pulse trains to communicate. The operational underwater noise measured at the Block Island Wind Farm can possibly be heard by whales over short distances but is likely not heard beyond a few hundred meters from the foundation, according to the CRMC.

The council also cites scientific literature based on data collected in the U.K. stating that “underwater noise from operation[al] wind facilities is not considered significant.”

According to the CRMC, BOEM reportedly plans to continue to monitor and assess potential impacts related to the construction and operation of wind farms on marine life, specifically whales, through the Environmental Studies Program and data collected from lessees and state and federal partners.

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