Turner Switches To Rejecting Substation

July 08, 1991|By Gary Gately | Gary Gately,Staff writer

Annapolis Alderman Wayne C. Turner will ask the City Council to reject a major expansion of the city's Tyler Avenue power substation tonight, amid fierce public opposition fueled by fears that the project could pose a cancer risk.

The Ward 6 Republican, whose district includes the Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. substation, has proposed a resolution that would deny the utility's expansion.

Turner had initially expressed support for the proposal, which would double the substation's capacity to meet increased demand for electricity.

But he said yesterday that BG&E had failed to prove thatelectromagnetic fields generated by the expansion would pose no cancer threat.

Turner pointed to several studies, including one by theEnvironmental Protection Agency, indicating a possible link between electromagnetic fields and cancer.

Research on the risk posed by electromagnetic fields from power lines and transformers remains inconclusive, however, and some scientists say they'll need five to 10 years to reach a definite conclusion.

"We could just let BG&E go and do this expansion and wait for the reports to come out to see if whatthey're doing is safe," Turner said.

"But this is going to affecta huge amount of our constituency and their safety, and I think whatwe have to do is just say no to BG&E. We need to say, 'Prove to us there's no safety threat, and we'll let you do it, but not before then.' "

Turner predicted that the council, which has heard testimony from dozens of residents opposing the expansion, would vote down the project.

BG&E could win council approval only if seven of the ninecouncil members voted for the expansion, Turner said.

Residents living within 200 feet of the substation have gathered enough signatures to require three-fourths of the council, rather than a simple majority, to vote for the expansion, he said.

If the council approves the expansion, Turner said he would request that BG&E be required to bury utility cables and ensure that electromagnetic field readings donot increase. An independent inspector would measure the readings periodically, Turner said.

BG&E officials have told council members no conclusive evidence exists linking electromagnetic fields and cancer.

The expansion, BG&E officials say, is needed to meet ever-growing demand for electricity and to prevent possible blackouts next winter.

In other action tonight, the council will vote on a zoning application for construction of 35 town houses near Bywater Road and Greenbriar Lane to boost the city's dwindling supply of affordable housing.

The city already has agreed to borrow $450,000 and lend it tothe project's private, non-profit developer. The plan has won the support of nearby residents and city lawmakers.

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