WASHINGTON, DC — Congressman Chris Smith, who represents much of Monmouth County, applauded New Jersey Board of Public Utilities's decision rejecting the proposal of Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) to construct a high-voltage power line between Red Bank and Aberdeen.
“(The June 22) decision is a vindication for local residents who fought long and hard to oppose these power lines, especially Rachel Kanapka and her committed group Residents Against Giant Electric (RAGE),” said Smith, who visited many sites along the route of the proposed power lines and testified on the detrimental effects the power lines would have on the local communities.
“I applaud the Board of Public Utilities for making this decision, and I am pleased to have been able to work hard alongside all the members of RAGE," he said.
After the giant power lines were proposed as part of the Monmouth County Reliability Project (MCRP), Smith met with residents who would have been directly affected by the proposed power line and personally visited homes, in July of 2016. “When I walked through the neighborhoods of Holmdel and Middletown surveying the proposed power line route, I was convinced that the project would be devastating for the five communities involved at different points along the route, and by extension, the County,” Smith said.
With the poles ranging in height from 135 to 210 feet, the power lines would have run in close proximity to residential neighborhoods and schools from Red Bank to Aberdeen, along a 9.7-mile strip along the NJ Transit rail right-of-way.
Smith said that the unsightly power lines in clear view of homes would almost certainly hurt the property values of those homes and result in economic loss for many longtime local residents. And a potentially more serious problem lay in the long-term effects of the low-voltage radiation that would be emitted by the high-voltage transmission line, in close proximity to schools and residential backyards where children would be exposed to this radiation, he said.
Smith presented these concerns in his testimony before the NJ Transit Corp.'s board of directors on October 13, 2016, to convince the agency to reject JCP&L’s application to site monopoles on the NJ Transit's right-of-way.
“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, but there is statistically relevant evidence — including studies — that suggest otherwise,” Smith said in his testimony.
One of these studies was a major French study that included all 2,779 cases of childhood acute leukemia in France from 2002 to 2007 and 30,000 contemporaneous population controls. The study concluded that living within 50 meters of high voltage power lines increased the odds of occurrence of childhood acute leukemia.