NEWARK, N.J.—Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04) testified today before the New Jersey Transit Corporation Board of Directors in an effort to convince the agency to reject the Jersey Central Power & Light Co (JCP&L) application to utilize the transit agency’s right-of-way for the proposed “Monmouth County Reliability Project.” JCP&L has proposed the 10-mile-long transmission line be placed through residential neighborhoods along NJT’s North Jersey Coast line, creating an undue burden for large numbers of people in five Monmouth County municipalities.
“Some may argue that there is little or no adverse health link to exposure to the electromagnetic fields created by these high-voltage lines, and may produce select studies that suggest that,” said Smith, Chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on global health in his expert testimony. “But there is statistically relevant evidence–including studies–that suggest otherwise.”
Smith cited statistics from one of the several studies: “A massive French study that included all 2,779 cases of childhood acute leukemia in France over 2002-2007 and 30,000 contemporaneous population controls concluded that there were increased odds for childhood acute leukemia occurrence living within 50 meters of high voltage power lines.”
“Over my 36 years as a member of congress, I’ve been the prime author of several major Public Laws including research and services for persons with autism, assisting veterans with the Persian Gulf mystery illness, and a major amendment to help atomic veterans and their surviving widows and children,” Smith continued. “Each of those legislative initiatives had or has one thing in common—overcoming a culture of denial of the science.” Click Here to read Smith’s full testimony.
Smith explains that the so-called Monmouth County Reliability Project would create an unnecessary, lifestyle-shattering and dangerous 230-kilovolt transmission line near homes, parks, schools and places of worship in Aberdeen, Hazlet, Holmdel, Middletown and Red Bank. Reports have indicated that the transmission lines, which could be built on poles as tall as 210 feet at some points, would emit powerful electromagnetic fields (EMFs). Findings do not prove but indicate that EMFs may create an increased rate of cancer, including childhood leukemia, with the World Health Organization classifying it as “possibly carcinogenic,” and indicating that it is “sufficiently strong enough” to cause a concern.
“If NJ Transit accepts JCP&L’s proposal, home values will decline significantly, causing serious economic hardship for communities that are still reeling from Superstorm Sandy,” said Smith. “Testimony at a 2012 congressional hearing found that in Chino Hills California, property values plummeted overnight by 17%–or more–when a project nearly identical to JCP&L’s became a reality. Anyone who desires to sell or must sell due to a myriad of factors–including change of job or retirement–may not only suffer a steep loss but may have difficulty even finding a buyer.”
Smith has been helping to lead the charge to stop these harmful lines since June of this year. Over the summer, Smith walked the proposed route and met with those who lived there, including a citizen’s advocacy group dedicated to stopping the line known as RAGE (Residents Against Giant Electric), to hear firsthand how the powerline would disrupt their lives, safety and property. He believes that, given the possible health risks and strong opposition of the community, an abundance of caution must be exercised before any similar plan is put into place.