Wind turbines are a familiar sight across the state, generating power in local communities. 

But in the aftermath of several safety incidents, some question whether they’re spinning out of control. 

“It was a nice calm night, and then all hell broke loose,” said Glenn Trenholm of Gloucester.

Trenholm said he remembers being afraid after hearing an unsettling noise echo through the summer sky.  

“It was bangs,” he said. “It was a few pops, bangs.” 

“[It was] loud and it sounded like lumber falling out of the sky,” he continued. 

What Trenholm heard was a massive blade tumbling from a wind turbine in Gloucester. 

Back in July of 2022, SKY7-HD captured the aftermath of the crumbled metal that slammed into Blackburn Industrial Park.

“I would love to know what happened,” Trenholm said. “To me, it sounded like an explosion first, so I don’t know. Did it just break? Where did it break? Did the bolts come loose?”

To this day, Applied Materials, the turbine’s owner, hasn’t said why the blade fell off. 

According to Gloucester city officials, the company isn’t required to provide an explanation. 

But nearby residents are concerned.

“There’s a preschool nearby and there’s houses nearby and there’s a highway nearby, so the idea that a blade could fall is a little scary,” said Gloucester City Councilor Jeff Worthley.

Adding to the fear, the state does not require regular inspections of these towering structures. 

The people of Gloucester are hoping to change that. They’re pushing to become the first community in Massachusetts to require routine inspections.     

“It’s critically important that they operate but it’s critically important they operate safely,” Worthley said.

Safety is also a concern in Winthrop, where a turbine malfunctioned in May. 

The turbine is owned by the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority, which inspected the troubled turbine and provided 7 Investigates with reports revealing a brake failure. 

As a result, the tip of one of the blades snapped and went airborne. 

Back in Gloucester, residents still have no idea what caused the turbine’s failure near them. 

And no one at Applied Materials responded to our repeated requests for information. 

“I’d feel a lot better with inspections,” Trenholm said. 

“Make sure that they’re working,” one other person said. “Make sure they’re efficient and make sure there’s no leaks and nothing’s gonna fall off of them,” one other person said.

The damaged turbine in Gloucester was taken down completely in November.

Residents are hoping the two remaining turbines get routine inspections soon. 

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