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Residents demand buffer zone around high-voltage power lines  

Derek Enman has already had one battle with cancer.

He’s fearful high-voltage transmission lines planned for near his Enmore home could result in a similar battle for others.

The 62-year-old was one of more than 100 residents from western P.E.I. to gather in front of the P.E.I. legislature Tuesday evening to call on the provincial government to create buffer zones between these transmission lines and nearby homes.

A petition, signed by more than 3,100 residents, called for a 140-metre buffer zone and an update to the legislation that oversees these lines – a law that hasn’t been updated since 1937.

“I had lung cancer. I had half a lung out two years ago,” said Enman, who received a clean bill of health from his doctors Tuesday.

“It doesn’t worry me what it’s going to do to me. It worries me what it’s going to do to my granddaughter and my grandson.”

Maritime Electric plans to build high-voltage transmission lines from West Cape to Sherbrooke, near Summerside. These lines, which will run along Route 2, will eventually be extended to the Confederation Bridge.

The transmission lines will carry 138,000 volts of electricity and will pass near homes, schools, and in one section, along the Confederation Trail.

One of these lines is already in place in Howlan, near O’Leary.

Environment Minister George Webster said the routes being proposed are not carved in stone. He said Maritime Electric, which is tasked with getting the power from the huge wind turbines in western P.E.I. to their nearest substation, have several routes under consideration.

“The challenge will be to find that corridor that basically stays away from residential areas,” Webster said in an interview with The Guardian. “That’s up to Maritime Electric to define that corridor. Obviously they’re concerned too. They are not a fly-by-night company. They’ve been here for many, many years.”

The petition will make its way to Province House today.

Gordon Ramsay of Howlan said his front yard, like his neighbours, is now part of an industrial site.

“We no longer see children playing in the front yards,” he said from the front steps of Province House.

“It was a crime to turn our front yards into an industrial zone.”

Kevin Porter of West Devon said 19 homes in his neighbourhood are being sandwiched between the existing power lines in the front of their homes and the high-voltage lines at the back of their houses. He said they are all concerned about the adverse health effects of being close to these lines.

“Some of the homes will be as close to the line as 12 metres,” he said.

“One home will have the power line running over their children’s bedroom.”

Jeannita Bernard is a health-care professional and a tourism operator. She doesn’t want the lines near the Confederation Trail near her home.

“The trail is almost sacred ground,” said Bernard.

The Guardian has learned that Canada’s auditor general is now reviewing the issue of these high-voltage transmission lines.

A conference call is being planned for today and that call will include concerned P.E.I. residents. It is the auditor general’s hope that Health Canada will review its research on these high-voltage transmission lines.

Emily Duffy Arsenault of Miscouche said residents should not have to prove that the lines are dangerous.

“The burden of proof rests with Suez International, Maritime Electric and our government to prove that high- voltage transmission lines will not harm our health and our environment.”

Wayne Thibodeau

The Guardian

14 May 2008

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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