To the editor:
Thank you for reporting on the recent offshore wind rally at Island Park Beach. Having been a participant, I can attest to the accuracy and fairness of the coverage. The issue of …
To the editor:
Thank you for reporting on the recent offshore wind rally at Island Park Beach. Having been a participant, I can attest to the accuracy and fairness of the coverage. The issue of offshore wind is complex; at times, contentious; and heavily laden with politics and financial influence. As a renewable energy source, there are pros and cons; and regarding the environmental impacts of the wind arrays, there are many unknowns. In response to Mr. Husher’s recent letter to the editor, I’d like to respectfully submit the following clarifications.
There is a 1,400-square-mile cluster of nine lease areas located in federal waters just beyond Rhode Island Sound, consisting of a possible total of 1,500 turbines. Most, if not all, will be taller than 800 feet — for reference, the John Hancock Tower in Boston is 790 feet tall; and the landmass area of Rhode Island is 1,055 square miles. The closest array, Revolution Wind, will be 13 miles off Sakonnet Point, 16 miles from Second Beach.
Pile driving a steel monopile that is 35 feet in diameter into the seabed is not an insignificant or benign operation, with the potential for killing fish that have swim bladders and their larva, causing internal injuries in a variety of species, and behavioral avoidance in marine mammals, such as porpoises. “Bubble curtains” employed during construction will mitigate some, but not all, of the sound impact from the pile driving.
There are legitimate concerns about the effects of re-suspending possibly contaminated sediment in the Sakonnet River, and it seems unlikely that the sediment will simply fall back into place. The jet plow being used for burying the cable four to six feet into the riverbed is around 27 feet wide and may result in a “disturbance corridor” of over 100 feet in width. The EMFs emitted by the cables may affect the behavioral patterns of certain marine life.
According to SouthCoast Wind, the horizontal directional drilling planned for Island Park Beach will result in minimal permanent disturbance to the beach itself. After the drilled cable route makes landfall on the north side of Park Avenue, the cable will continue to be trenched and buried within public roads wherever possible, with the directional drilling process being repeated as the cable exits Portsmouth and enters Mount Hope Bay, on its way to Brayton Point.
While there might be some proliferation of certain species due to the artificial reef effect of the turbine foundations, monopiles tend to favor invasive filter feeders, which consume large amounts of carbon-sequestering phytoplankton. The jacketed foundations of Block Island Wind are not comparable to the monopiles. For a better-informed opinion on how beneficial or detrimental the wind farms might be to fisheries, I would suggest speaking with a commercial fisherman or a marine biologist.
My concerns about the environmental impacts of offshore wind development emerged six months ago; researching the subject has been challenging on many levels. By no means am I an expert, and any errors in the above information are unintentional and not meant to disinform.