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Offshore wind farming is approaching a new era of development

Offshore wind farming may be coming to the Long Island area, bringing 500 foot tall turbines, an endlessly renewable supply of energy, and job for up to 2000 construction workers per wind project.

Three possible wind farms are planned in federal waters about 12 miles offshore to the south of Martha's Vineyard, including in an area overseen by Rhode Island.

Survey ships for one of the three companies that won leases in the planned development area have already begun checking out the ocean bottom and the permitting process will continue through 2019. Construction will start in 2020, leading to operation by 2022 if all goes as planned. Some of the deepest parts of lease go all the way to 30 miles offshore and may require technology involving floating turbines that's actually still in the development phase.

Despite the obstacles and the long-range goals, there are many that think that offshore wind farming is the way of the future because it provides a steadier, stronger wind.

The staggering amount of work that has to be done to do the survey work, lay the cable, and eventually build the turbines themselves also will likely give a big boost to those willing and capable of doing the grueling -- and dangerous -- offshore construction work.

Previous studies of offshore wind farms have indicated that injuries are most often related to the inherent dangers of the sea itself, such as being swept overboard or drowning. The extreme weather that far out to sea is sometimes unpredictable and sudden changes can take workers unaware.

The second greatest risk of injury on offshore wind farms comes from falling. Other common injuries come from things like impact injuries, falling objects, being caught on a moving part, explosions, crane collapse and electric shock.

The likelihood in the coming years is that more workers than ever before are going to be faced with a dizzying array of federal and maritime laws that could affect an injury claim. Anyone who is injured in the coming years during the exploratory or construction phases of these offshore wind farms should consult an attorney who is familiar with these laws.

Source: Wicked Local Eastham, "Wind Turbines Loom on Off-Cape Waters," Rich Eldred, March 01, 2017

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