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Sunday, May 09, 2010

CSC “Dismissed Out of Hand” Objections to Substation

To the Editor:

The residents of Westport, specifically Greens Farms, have multiple objections to the proposed CL&P substation at 6 New Creek Road. At the Thursday Connecticut Siting Council (CSC) meeting we listened to the Council’s consideration of the project and were eager to hear them discuss our objections submitted to them in writing over the past three weeks.

Instead, what can be heard on the Web audio link is the Council dismissing out of hand our most serious concern about the proximity of a powerful cell phone tower to the proposed site.

Despite our letters stating the location of the cell tower to the proposed site, the Council can be heard debating the location of the tower, deciding that we are referring to a tower much further away at the Westport police station and then dismissing our concern about the tower because in their opinion the tower is too far away to have an impact.

Their casual disinterest in what is arguably a huge environmental incompatibility issue for the proposed site is troubling at best. The CSC, it is my understanding, is responsible for making a determination of public need AND environmental compatibility for the proposed project.

In my estimation, they have failed to consider the compatibility of the project given that the presence of a nearby tower situated within 500 feet (adjacent to the Greens Farms Post Office) can potentiate the brain cancer and childhood leukemia causing electromagnetic waves emanating from the substation.

It seems the Council was very prepared to consider only the issues that the petitioning organization (CL&P) posited. Since CL&P made no mention of the potential hazard of the cell phone tower proximity, the CSC failed to carefully consider it. It seems they only review the claims made by CL&P and nothing outside of that scope.

There has been no opportunity for the public to have equal and fair representation in this process. Arguably the public was “notified” of the project at several junctures (all previous attempts failing to attract the notice of the now 100 objectors), but to what end?

There is no forum in which the health concerns or objections of the public are not considered tertiary to the meeting at hand. Would P&Z have halted the project because of our concern or would they have said that the health concerns were not their jurisdiction?

Would the Conservation Commission have been better suited to hear our objections? Or would they too have said that our concerns fell outside their domain?

We, as the public are being faulted for not having shown up earlier in the debate, but the reality is there was never a forum or an agency deputized to consider our perspective anyway. If there was, I’m guessing we would have learned of this proposal at a much earlier juncture.

The whole system is designed in favor of the petitioner. Yes, each agency from whom CL&P sought approval had a narrow scope of authority and they seem to have fulfilled the obligation of their office. The fact remains that there is no suitable forum for the public to have their health concerns heard.

Thinking that forum might be the CSC as they are charged with considering the public need and environmental compatibility we were foolishly optimistic. We were unprepared for what turned out to be a very formalized meeting on March 31 to which we, as the novice public, felt “underdressed” in a room full of suited lawyers and CL&P lobbyists who had gone before the CSC many times before.

Just to have raise our concerns about the health impact of the project we have had to become “experts” in the process of the CSC and in the risks of EMF pollution. (A process I can assure you has taken many uncompensated hours and days by our group.) 

There was no official body for the public to petition for help. No authority who could make our case in a legitimate way to the CSC. Just our tiny, informally organized voices and for that our cause has suffered.

So it was most disturbing when our efforts to work within the system were summarily dismissed by the CSC (during the Thursday hearing in New Britain). It seems they convinced themselves, without the merit of fact or scientific evidence, that our claim about the cell tower was erroneous based only on their mistake about the location of the cell tower.

They never even considered the health risks because they were too busy making poor assumptions about how close the tower would have to be (in their estimation) to have the concern be worth their scrutiny.

It is our understanding from considerable research that proximity between a cell tower and a substation can cause unpredictable powerful patterns of electromagnetic radiation traveling distances greater than either station alone could normally project.

Blake Levitt, an author of much literature and books about EMF pollution shared via email her serious concern about the proximity of the proposed substation to the existing cell tower saying in essence that the two together could cause a grave health impact greater than the sum of their parts.

The research on EMF pollution is clear. There is, undeniably, a health risk posed to those exposed to the fields for any length of time.

Why on earth would we support an ongoing experiment with the health of our children and families from EMF exposure for which their is no remedy? We as residents of the Greens Farms area refuse to consent to this exposure and are prepared to seek alternative means of energy to preclude the need for the substation.

Our children are more important to us than the extra electricity required to power additional plasma TVs. We refuse to bear the burden of health risks for the CL&P electrical consumers at large. The burden is real, calculable and unfair.

Westport already houses more substations than its nearby counterparts. Could that have something to do with our proximity to the water potentially providing future access across the sound to a power starving Long Island?

One wonders whether the bill awaiting approval on the governor’s desk to allow distributors such as CL&P to become electrical generators as well has something to do with the drive by CL&P to put a “strong” substation in the Greens Farms neighborhood within a stone’s throw from Long Island Sound.

If you would be interested in learning more about our efforts to reduce the electrical load projected for this substation which includes working with state Representative Kim Fawcett and several distributed generation experts and companies, we would be most happy to oblige.

If we cannot get the public and the authorities to wake up to the grave danger posed by the siting of this substation, then we will continue our programmatic approach to making the CL&P substation obsolete. This “David” group will take down “Goliath” on the measure of public need if not environmental compatibility.

We will not allow our children to suffer the consequences of the town’s growing demand for electricity. Let CL&P be forewarned that we intend to hold them accountable for all future health risks and hazards arising from the EMF and other fields generated by theses substations, lines and magnified by the nearby cell tower.

Pleas do contact Blake Levitt, research our concerns and consider whether the CSC has truly done its job. I know we, the public, have certainly worked within the system as best it allows and we are prepared to continue to wage this campaign of opposition until we are victorious.

Jennifer Boyd
(on behalf of the neighbors and friends of Greens Farms)
Westport

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Posted 05/09/10 at 03:55 PM  Permalink



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