MOUNT HOREB, Wis. - The Mount Horeb Area Area School District is raising concerns tonight about a proposed power transmission line. District officials fear if a transmission line is built, students who live around the area and whose school activities would take them near the preliminary route could face severe health risk.
"When it comes to the health, safety and welfare of our kids, it's never best to gamble," said Mount Horeb superintendent, Dr. Steve Salerno.
Salerno said health concerns for their students is the main reason the district is opposed to a proposed 125-mile transmission line that would run next to 25 acres of district property on County Road JG. The property is currently used for school AG programs and a potential site for future expansions.
"The research is at best inconclusive at worst very disconcerting," he said "Because our kids wouldn't be able to explore or have neat experiences in the great outdoors that they so richly enjoy right now," Salerno said.
The proposed Cardinal-Hickory Creek 345-kilovolt high-voltage transmission line would run from Dubuque County, Iowa to Middleton. The resolution passed Dec. 18, opposing the proposed line states research based on three different studies, including the British Medical Journal, shows there are links to children developing cancer as a result of exposure from magnetic field exposure from power lines.
"There are volumes of credible, independent research which demonstrates that children living near ordinary power lines have three times the likelihood of developing cancer (Wertheimer and Leeper), 10-15 percent of all child cancers resulted from magnetic field exposure from power lines (Savitz), and babies who live near high-voltage power lines are almost twice as likely as others to develop leukemia during childhood (British Medical Journal)," the resolution stated.
"We want to make certain that people know we do everything we can to support the health, safety and welfare of our students and staff and the community that's been so good to us. We sometimes have to take a stand," Salerno said.
American Transmission Company , one of the three companies leading the project, say the line would provide economic savings, improve electricity reliability, and help expand infrastructure for renewable energy. The company said they don’t believe their project will create health risk.
"A number of groups have all not found a link with power lines and negative health effects," said Kaya Freiman, corporate communications consultant for American Transmission Company.
The group is proposing two routes to the state's public service commission. Freiman said the routes were picked based on having the least impact on the community and environment. It's a proposal she says has both local and regional benefits.
"These larger lines do connect the lower voltage lines which ultimately connect to the utilities that service homes, businesses, residences and schools. It's an essential service," she said.
The group plans to file their application this year, which will start the regulatory review process that includes both an environmental and public review. The state's Public Service Commission will ultimately approve or deny that proposal. If approved, Freiman said they hope to have the line in service by 2023.
The school district hopes their stance will encourage community members to educate themselves on the project and become active in the commentary process.
The Western Dane Preservation Campaign, a community group made up of citizens, also has raised concerns with the project. The group is looking to stop the construction of the transmission line citing a lack of need, direct environmental hazard and detrimental economic impact to the community.
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