Kincumber residents assured that magnetic fields are harmless

Residents in Melville St, Kincumber have voiced concerns about the 66,000 volts of electricity that will be running along overhead power lines in the street.

The changes come as a result of the proposed construction of the EnergyAustralia Substation at Empire Bay.
“The focus has been on the substation and no one has had any idea that the power lines were going through the street,” said Ruth Ross, president of the Residents of Kincumber Association.
According to Allyn Hamonet, spokesperson for EnergyAustralia, the new substation would need to be serviced from existing substations from Woy Woy and Avoca resulting in the power lines being run down Melville St.
Residents are concerned that the 66,000 volts, compared to the current 11,000 volts will pose a health risk to those living in close proximity to the power lines, however Mr Hamonet claims that there will be little difference in terms of the level of electromagnetic field and if anything, there may be less.
“Magnetic fields are produced by current which has to push the voltage along the line.
“The higher the voltage, the less current is required which then reduces the level of magnetic field,” said Mr Hamonet.
Concerned resident Joanne Hughes thinks that EnergyAustralia should consider alternate routes for the power lines or the possibility of putting them underground and ensuring residents are aware of the issue.
“They should be consulting more with residents, not everyone received the letters that we received, not everyone in this street is aware of it,” said Ms Hughes.
However Mr Hamonet claims that residents have been kept informed about the status of the upgrade with newsletters and regular updates.
“It’s the most heavily populated area of the whole route,” said Ms Ross.
“There is a preschool, sporting oval and a retirement village, all very good reasons to consider the health risk of putting 66,000 volts overheard,” she said.
Mr Hamonet said that EnergyAustralia operates well within health regulation guidelines and the increased voltage should not affect residents any more than the power lines that are currently in place.
“Magnetic fields generated by power lines are no greater than those generated by a plasma TV or a home computer,” said Mr Hamonet.
According to EnergyAustralia,the power lines along Melville St, Kincumber were constructed in 1976 with an original view to connect to a substation in the Empire Bay area.
The power lines are currently operating at 11,000 volts however, they have the capacity to function at 66,000.
The power line structure will not be replaced in full to cater for the substation however according to Mr Hamonet, two, possibly three power poles will be replaced for general maintenance as well as the upgrade of overhead support structures.
Representatives of Melville St met with MP Chris Hartcher on Friday, November 12, to discuss their concerns and possible alternatives.

Kaitlin Watts, 12 Nov 2010
Interviewees: Allyn Hamonet, Rush Ross and Joanne Hughes

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