Responsible Electricity Transmission for Albertans
AltaLink Offers to Cost-Share Burying Heartland line by Colchester School
AltaLink has offered to cost-share burying a portion of the Heartland power line near Colchester Elementary School to alleviate concerns by parents, staff and students about the negative health and safety impacts of an overhead line.
At a meeting January 17, 2012, Elk Island Public Schools Superintendent Bruce Beliveau, Colchester School Principal Bill Suter and Colchester Parents’ Association President Gabe Chemello made it clear to AltaLink and EPCOR that the school would close down if the Heartland line was built above-ground. Parents have been polled several times over the past year and just before the AUC hearing last spring, 95% said they would pull their children out of the school because they were not willing to put their children’s health and safety at risk so close to an overhead double-circuit 500kV power line.
There are hundreds of studies reporting significantly increased risks of childhood leukemia, other cancers, nervous system dysfunctioning, and many other serious health problems in children exposed over a prolonged period to overhead high voltage line EMFs. If the Heartland line was built above ground, Colchester students would be exposed to these hazardous EMFs and toxic corona clouds up to 6 hours a day, 5 days a week, and 10 months a year.
Darin Watson, VP Major Projects for AltaLink and Bruce Brandell, EPCOR (Team Lead – Heartland Transmission Project), listened to these concerns, and Mr. Watson surprised others at the meeting by offering to share the costs with the provincial government to bury part of the Heartland line near the school. In this news release, the Colchester Parents’ Association indicated it “is very keen to work with AltaLink and the Alberta Government on this new proposal.” However, Chemello noted “that past experience with AltaLink during the hearings makes it difficult to believe that this is a good-faith offer.” (Also see this iNews 880 coverage.)
RETA certainly agrees and hopes this is not another cruel joke by AltaLink, as it has done on previous occasions. For example, AltaLink and EPCOR encouraged thousands of directly and negatively impacted residents by including an underground option in their application to the AUC to build the Heartland line. However, as soon as the AUC hearing started, it became clear the applicants had never been serious about the underground option, and were simply leading residents down the garden path.
We can only hope the Alberta Government is open to this cost-sharing proposal by AltaLink, especially considering the government would have to come up with the minimum $20 million to accommodate the Colchester students in a new school or expanded existing school if the power line is built above ground. Also, it seems only fair that the provincial government should accept this proposal because it has foisted this line on Strathcona County residents in the first place.