Friday, August 8, 2008

Power line may risk our health

E. Hanover residents: Power line may risk our health

Mayor at council meeting with PSE&G: 'The more I hear, the more I worry'


EAST HANOVER -- Cancer and property-value fears were among the many concerns at a contentious and emotional township council meeting Wednesday night, where six PSE&G officials failed to alleviate residents' anxiety over the effect higher-voltage power lines and taller towers could have.

"The more I hear, the more I worry," said Mayor Joseph Pannullo, two hours into the meeting. "It's very obvious to me that there's not enough information on what we're worried about the most -- it's the cancer."

Residents and council members took turns addressing PSE&G officials, and the primary concern was adverse health effects from electromagnetic radiation coming from the lines.

The planned Susquehanna-Roseland line would be built along an existing transmission route through seven municipalities in Morris County -- East Hanover, Jefferson, Montville, Boonton Township, Kinnelon, Parsippany and Rockaway Township. Line towers would double in height to 190 feet, and the company would add 500,000-kilovolt lines to the existing 230,000-kilovolt lines, a setup that does not currently exist within the PSE&G system.

When a PSE&G official noted the combination is the first of its kind, some residents called out, "We're the guinea pigs."

More than 150 people attended the meeting that included a question-and-answer session with PSE&G representatives and a digital slideshow presentation of what the project entails in its preliminary design stages.

The meeting was held in the East Hanover Middle School auditorium in anticipation of the large turnout.

PSE&G engineer Greg Olson cited a 2007 World Health Organization study that found "the benefits of (electric magnetic radiation) exposure reduction on health are unclear."

He also said no biological studies had shown electromagnetic radiation to cause health problems.

Some residents pointed to a study that found an association between electromagnetic exposure and childhood cancer.

"There are literally thousands of studies out there, and they go both ways," Olson said. "We don't dispute that there are controversial study outcomes out there."

A company official said there are hundreds of miles of existing 500,000 kilovolt lines in the state, some of which are next to homes, and some that run adjacent to 230,000 kilovolt lines. The new line would meet a growing demand for electricity, power company officials said.

The final 130-mile route was announced earlier this week. The line will run from Susquehanna, Pa., to Roseland in Essex County, including 45 miles in New Jersey. In Sussex and Warren counties, the route also cuts through Andover Township, Byram, Fredon, Hardwick, Newtown, Sparta and Stillwater.

In addition to constructing new towers and lines, PSE&G also will build two new substations -- one in Jefferson Township off Route 15 near the Sparta border and another at its existing property in the Roseland/East Hanover area to support the new 500-kilovolt line.

At Wednesday's meeting, PSE&G officials outlined a possible plan to build the substation on eight acres, and one plan that would be built on four acres.

"The community already has too many power lines running through it," said Jim Drumm, an Overlook Avenue resident, before the meeting.

He said the line runs through his neighbor's backyard. As it is, the towers are hidden.

"If you put up much bigger lines, you'll be able to see them," he said.

Debra Kemper, an Overlook Avenue resident, said she also is concerned with the height and for the health of her neighbors, including her daughter and granddaughter who live next door.

"It's an eyesore besides that," she said. "You invest your life into your home, and the property value is going to depreciate."

Pending approvals from various federal and state agencies, construction would start in late 2009 with completion of the new line in time for the summer of 2012, PSE&G officials have said.

Concerns can be e-mailed to PSE&G by sending them to

Jake Remaly can be reached at (973) 428-6621 or