September 16, 2009
Consultant to test power line electromagnetic fields at Montville middle school
School board seeking measurement independent of PSE&G
MONTVILLE -- With
little fanfare, the school board voted Tuesday to hire a consultant to
test the level of the electromagnetic fields emanating from power lines
near Robert R. Lazar Middle School that some feel pose a health hazard
to children and staff.
President Jon Alin said the board has no trust in the reading taken in
August by Public Service Electric & Gas Co., who is seeking
approval from the state Board of Public Utilities to build a
500-kilovolt line from Susquehanna, Pa., to Roseland.
PSE&G doesn’t seem like a good idea to all of us because they are
their wires,” Alin said. “We want to have the levels tested
independently as soon as possible.”
The EMF reading of the
existing 230-kilovolt power line at school’s playing field, located
about 200 feet away, is 3.2 milligaus, according to Karen Johnson, a
PSE&G spokeswoman. That is just slightly higher than the 3 mG
maximum exposure recommended by the World Health Organization --
putting school property at the threshold for safety even before the
line doubles in height and voltage.
At the edge of the nearest school wall, about 450 feet from the lines, the EMF reading is 0.2 mG, Johnson said.
said school officials were not present when PSE&G took their
readings and were never notified of the results. The contract for its
independent consultant is not to exceed $5,000.
board, Alin said, continues to be concerned about research which
suggests a link between elevated EMF exposure and diseases such as
The move comes after school officials in
Fredon reversed its decision to close its K-6 school and approved a
settlement with PSE&G. Under that agreement approved Monday by the
board of education, PSE&G will pay $950,000 to relocate playing
fields beneath its lines. An EMF reading of 19 mG was taken at the
“It was a very difficult and challenging situation
that the board of education has had to deal with and the people of
Fredon have had to cope with, but we were able to come up with a good
result,” Fredon School Superintendent Sal Costantino said. “No
decisions were based on anything but concern for the children’s health
The settlement, Costantino said, ends the
district’s inclusion in ongoing litigation against PSE&G’s planned
power line proposal. Seven Morris County municipalities, several
citizen groups, environmental groups and the Montville school district
still remain in the legal fight.
Stephen Edelstein, Montville
school board’s attorney, said the district continues to oppose the
lines. It is specifically concerned about the impact on the future
prospect of expanding the middle school.
“There is a formal
process going on literally everyday to try and resolve the larger
question of where and how the high-tension wires be placed,” Edelstein
PSE&G has said the power lines pose no threat because no study has proven there is a causal link between EMFs and cancer.
Jennifer Kayne, a mother of two, said she still worries that if a link is discovered later, it will be too late.
“If my kids develop cancer, I will never forgive myself,” Kayne said.