Columbia Water and Light held an open house at Rock Bridge High School on Wednesday.
This open house was a meeting planned since the conception of Columbia Water and Light’s electric transmission line project in order to introduce Columbia residents to the route the line will take.
The route that has been selected for the transmission line travels along Scott Boulevard, to West Vawter School Road and continuing on to Grindstone Parkway. This route is raising concerns from parents of students who attend schools along the route, particularly Mill Creek Elementary. They are worried that their children will be exposed to an electromagnetic field, or EMF.
Detelina Marinova is one of the concerned parents. She believes this issue goes beyond just school parents, however, and should be a community issue that people take a stand against.
“We need to take a prudent avoidance approach when we know that there is risk of childhood leukemia and other adverse health effects,” Marinova said.
Marinova was at the open house, and was making rounds handing out a packet of literature she had composed containing quotes from several studies stating that EMF could cause childhood leukemia and be classified as a “possible human carcinogen.”
Columbia Water and Light Spokesperson Connie Kacprowicz disagrees.
“As you move away from the transmission, the electric and magnetic fields go down," Kacprowicz said. "There’s been several decades of research to see whether there’s a direct correlation between transmission lines and any kind of health problems and there has been no definitive research that transmission lines are linked to any kind of health concerns."
The transmission line closest to the school will be across from the playground of Mill Creek Elementary. Kacprowicz says that this decreases any risk significantly.
“If you’re standing directly under [the transmission structure], you get a magnetic field of about 5.5 milligauss," Kacprowicz said. "If you go a little over 300 feet, to where the north wall of the school building is, it goes down to about 0.1 milligauss."
The open house was an effort to address these parents’ concerns in addition to letting the community learn more about the placement, easements and EMF of the project, but ultimately, Marinova left unsatisfied.
“My hopes were that there would be an open forum discussion between the city and the citizens and that clearly did not occur," Marinova said. "It seemed to be more like a one-way information provision from the city to citizens and no forum for discussion."