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Friday, March 29, 2013

Media Matters: Forbes Reaches To Find Wind Power Fatalities

This article from Media Matters breaks down the overstated safety risks of wind power (released in a recent Forbes article). This type of misinformation is embarrassing, and we applaud Shauna Theel for this article, breaking down and analyzing the numbers. Find the original posting of this article here.

In a column for Forbes, the head of the Institute for Energy Research exaggerated the safety risks associated with wind power by including suicides, murders, and several other fatalities that have little to do with wind industry safety in order to misleadingly claim that the oil and gas is "one of the safest" industries.

Robert Bradley Jr., the CEO of the fossil fuel industry-funded Institute for Energy Research, claimed that wind turbines "present significant safety risks for humans," adding: "Since the 1970s, 133 fatalities have occurred on turbines -- that's a high figure considering the relatively small size of the wind sector." That figure comes from ananti-wind group whose list includes a wind plant construction worker shot during a protest against the plant, a wind turbine operator found hanging in an apparent suicide, a man who committed suicide after opposition to wind turbines on his land, a man that died while climbing a turbine for a class, a snowmobile hitting the fence around a wind farm construction site, and a "shirtless and shoeless" man electrocuted inside of a windmill.

More credible statistics show that in 2012 there were 12 wind industry deaths worldwide -- eight of which were in China where workplace safety standards are lax. In the U.S., the American Wind Energy Association hasallied with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to train workers on fall, electrical, and crane hazards. By comparison, 1,384 people died in coal mine accidents in China last year, and sulfur pollution alone contributes to about 400,000 premature deaths in China annually.

Estimates of the number of deaths per terawatt hour based on data from the World Health Organization and occupational safety statistics have also found that fossil fuels contribute to far more deaths than wind energy:

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