Bg & E Sues City Council Over Eastport Substation

August 07, 1991|By Gary Gately | Gary Gately,Staff writer

Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. is asking a judge to overturn the City Council's rejection of a plan to expand a Tyler Avenue substation.

A lawsuit suit filed in county Circuit Court contends that the $3 million expansion of the Eastport substation complied with all Annapolis ordinances and should have been approved.

The City Council voted, 5-3, last month to deny the expansion because of fears that electromagnetic fields, or EMFs, could cause cancer.

"There is no scientific or medical evidence which shows a cause-and-effect health hazard caused by EMFs," said Harry Blumenthal, an Annapolis attorney representing BG & E. "The real threat here is to the public, which has come to rely on adequate electrical service."

BG & E's suit claims that the aldermen based their decision on unproven fears raised in cancer studies that were not part of public testimony on the expansion.

The suit notes that both the Planning and Zoning Commission, which advises the City Council, and the city's planning and zoning department had concluded the project met city standards and recommended council approval.

The council resolution also incorrectly claimed that BG & E and the city could make the substationunnecessary by conserving energy, the suit claims.

The expansion,which would double the substation's capacity, is needed to meet growing demand for electricity in the the Annapolis neck peninsula, BG & E said.

Alderman Wayne C. Turner, the Ward 6 Republican whose district includes the substation, sponsored the council resolution quashing the substation.

Turner had initially supported the project but later said that BG & E had failed to prove the substation would be safe.

Dozens of city residents testified against the expansion, citing studies showing a possible link between EMFs and cancer, but BG & E officials countered that the proposed expansion would not increase EMFs or pose health risks.

Research on EMF remains inconclusive, and some scientists say it will take five to 10 years to reach a definite conclusion.

"I'd rather err on the side of safety than on the side of harm," said Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins, who voted for Turner's resolution.

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