Thursday, May 09, 2013
Members of Save The Ozarks, a citizen group that has intervened to oppose the proposed SWEPCO Shipe Road to Kings River high voltage transmission line, have questions about how they will be compensated for their land if it is taken for the right-of-way of the project. Some were under the impression the right-of-way wouldn’t be purchased outright, but that they would receive lease payments on a monthly basis.
SWEPCO spokesman Peter Main said right-of-way is secured through easement agreements with landowners and involves a one-time payment to the property owner.
“Under easement agreements, property owners retain ownership of the property with some limitations on the use of the land within the right-of-way,” Main said. “Under the agreements, property owners could not place any permanent structures within the corridor that would restrict complete access for maintenance of the line or right-of-way, or plant vegetation that would compromise safety and reliability of the line.”
Main also responded to concerns that have been raised about the health impacts of people being exposed to electromagnetic fields (EMFs).
“EMFs occur in nature and wherever electricity flows,” Main said. “Virtually all people in industrialized countries are exposed to EMFs most of the time. EMFs are produced by electric lines, household wiring, appliances and other electric equipment. Our society relies heavily on electricity.
“SWEPCO and our affiliated companies in the American Electric Power (AEP) system have followed worldwide scientific study and developments related to EMFs for decades. We have participated in EMF research through membership in trade associations. AEP was among the sponsors of the U.S. Department of Energy $45 million EMF Research and Public Information Dissemination (RAPID) Program which concluded that scientific evidence suggesting that EMF exposures pose any health risk is weak.
Main said scientific studies over the past several decades have explored the possibility of health effects from EMFs. While some of the studies have indicated some statistical associations between EMFs and certain health effects, the majority of research has found no such association.
“Significantly, laboratory research has not shown any causal relationship between EMF exposure and cancer, or any other adverse health effects,” he said.
Luis Contreras, PhD, who did a presentation at a recent Save The Ozarks public meeting about EMF, said the concern is not only EMF, but especially Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) radiation. He said there is evidence that EMF can cause childhood leukemia and can interfere with pacemakers and cause defibrillators to malfunction.
“The health risks I have stated are real,” Contreras said. “The problem is with the level of radiation and the type of radiation (ELF) of not one, but two 345,000 volt transmission lines. The comment that ‘radiation is all around us’ is not relevant and simply tries to ignore the facts.”
Contreras said he would like to have a public debate with SWEPCO experts. “My data is from 2012 studies, not 17-year-old ideas,” Contreras said. “Brad Bayliff’s firm and other law firms have legal practices to defend people with implanted medical devices that malfunction due to magnetic radiation. The SWEPCO Extremely High Voltage (EHV) transmission lines will expose Arkansas to lawsuits that in the end will be paid by taxpayers.”
Contreras said his health objections are not only about EMFs, but the loud constant noise, water contamination from herbicides on 800 acres of land, soil erosion, hot washing of the insulators with high pressure water and helicopters, pollution of the river with herbicides, and the overall impact on the quality of life for people, pets and wildlife.
“The Environmental Impact Study (EIS) does not address concerns of the people, pets and wildlife that will live near the two 345,000 volt transmission lines,” Contreras said. “It pretends that this is a rural area and that only crops may be impacted one time. The EIS, in addition, states that some birds will be killed by the lines and that this is unavoidable.”
The ECHO (Eureka Christian Health Outreach) Board of Directors has recently filed a public comment with the Arkansas Public Service Commission opposing the power line project on six grounds: 1. There is no need for additional transmission capacity in our area. 2. Each of the selected routes will scar forever one of the most beautiful parts of the Ozarks. 3. Substantial health risks are possible with these high voltage lines. 4. Tourism would be adversely impacted. 5. Wildlife and the environment will be adversely impacted. 6. Other technologies, such as underground lines, should be considered.
The Eureka Springs Hospital Board has also filed an objection to the proposal.
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