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Consultant siding with electrical utility, worried residents say 

Residents in western P.E.I. concerned about a new high-voltage power line are accusing the consultant who studied the issue of being in a conflict of interest.

William Bailey was hired by the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission to investigate what health problems a power line, built to carry electricity from a new wind farm, might cause for people living close to it.

The line runs from the West Cape wind farm to the O’Leary substation and is currently energized to 69,000 volts. Since the line was built, the wind farm has expanded, and Maritime Electric intends to double the voltage on the line.

People living along the route have already complained that the line is too close to their homes and have filed with IRAC to have it removed.

Bailey, a New York consultant, reported that many scientific organizations consider electromagnetic fields with a strength below 800 milligauss to be safe. The levels in the homes along the lines at their current voltage, his report said, is now about 10 milligauss.

But Bill Costain, who has been leading the charge against the Maritime Electric line across the road from his Howlan home, told CBC News this week he has been doing his own research. He is worried the power line could put him at risk of a host of illnesses, including cancer.

While most of the research concludes there are no health risks associated with long-term exposure to electromagnetic fields, scientists are still debating the issue.

Groups such as Health Canada and the U.S. Cancer Institute all agree there are no harmful effects, Bailey said. Of of the material submitted to IRAC by Costain and his neighbours, Bailey said, only one paper was published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

Costain said Bailey shouldn’t ignore that paper. He also said because Bailey also consults for electrical utilities, he is in a conflict of interest.

IRAC said it does not see a conflict. It paid Bailey $30,000 to report on the specific situation in western P.E.I.

CBC News


11 April 2008

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