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Electromagnetic fields debated at Northern Pass hearing

April 18. 2017 1:59PM

CONCORD - The highest levels of electromagnetic fields around power lines for the proposed Northern Pass project are predicted to be found in sections of Concord, Pembroke and Deerfield but below “existing standards,” a Northern Pass expert testified Tuesday.

Northern Pass spokesman Martin Murray, during a break in Northern Pass hearings before a state panel, said later that the highest EMF level is predicted for a 1,000-foot stretch in Pembroke, near the Concord line, near a commercial-industrial area.

Murray said the levels are predicted to be highest for the project in the Pembroke to Deerfield section, and not in Concord, as a result of a limited utility right of way as well as the configuration of proposed Counsel for the Public Peter Roth, a senior assistant attorney general, reviewed some studies that showed higher rates of childhood leukemia recorded in some areas with elevated EMF readings.

Northern Pass witness William Bailey, the principal scientist at the Center for Occupational and Environmental Health Risk Assessment at Exponent, said there isn't a proven link between higher cancer rates and higher exposures to electromagnetic fields.

Gary Johnson, a senior managing scientist in Exponent's electrical engineering and computer science practice testifying on behalf of Northern Pass, said “these levels are still well below the existing standards.”

The committee is holding hearings through July and is expected to rule by September on whether to issue a required certificate for the project, which would bring hydropower from Canada into New England.

Northern Pass, if built, would bring 1,090 megawatts of electricity to New England, enough to power 1.1 million homes starting in late 2019 or early 2020.

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