Tue, May 03, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Electric substations pose no health risk: Taipower

INADEQUATE DATA:Acceptable levels of exposure to electromagnetic radiation as advised by the EPA are based on short-term exposure, environmentalists said

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

A Taiwan Power Co employee shows the reading from a hand-held electromagnetic radiation reader in Taipei’s Wanhua District yesterday.

Photo courtesy of Taiwan Power Co

Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) yesterday said that living near an electric substation is safe, following a media report saying residential complexes close to substations might be exposed to high levels of electromagnetic radiation, with environmentalists calling on the company and the government to assess the long-term health risks of electromagnetic radiation exposure.

According a report by the Chinese-language Apple Daily, there are 558 substations in Taiwan, with 20 of the top 30 substations with high levels of electromagnetic radiation located in Taoyuan, Taipei and Taichung.

Some substations are directly adjacent to residential buildings, potentially exposing residents to associated health risks, the report said.

The highest radiation levels measured were 194 milligauss at a substation in Miaoli County’s Tongsiao Township (通霄) and 190 milligauss at a substation in Nantou City, the report said.

The Environmental Protection Administration’s (EPA) limit for exposure to electromagnetic radiation is 833 milligauss.

However, the International Agency for Research on Cancer designates electromagnetic radiation as “possibly carcinogenic.”

Environmental groups have called on the EPA to lower the limit by 90 percent, because it only applies to high-level short-term exposure rather than long-term exposure, according to the report.

Taipower said radiation levels at all its substations are well below the EPA limit and the WHO limit, which is 2,000 milligauss, adding that the public can access radiation detection data on the company’s Web site.

Taipower spokesman Hsiao Jin-yi (蕭金益) said the company always negotiates with local residents before building a substation and it is common practice to build substations away from residential areas, generally at a 10m distance.

However, there are substations located near residential complexes, as those complexes were built after the substations, Hsiao said.

“Substations located in urban areas generate higher levels of electromagnetic radiation because radiation levels are related to power output and power consumption is higher in urban areas,” he said.

Taiwan Electromagnetic Radiation Hazard Protection and Control Association Taipei office director Jennifer Nien (粘麗玉) said environmental groups have demanded high-capacity substations be relocated to a distance of at least 50m from residential buildings, as people living within several meters from a substation can be exposed to high levels of radiation.

“The EPA’s limit is set for short-term exposure, but no one, including the World Health Organization, has studied the effects of long-term exposure to electromagnetic radiation, which should be done. We have demanded the EPA lower the limit, and before that, Taipower should caution residents against potential health effects of living near substations, which the company did not do,” Nien said.

Taipower should try to lower radiation output or relocate powerlines away from residential buildings if residents complain about discomfort potentially related to electromagnetic radiation exposure, she said.

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