Proposed FPL poles spark health concerns

Posted on Sun, Jul. 02, 2006

North Miami has hired a legal team to fight FPL's plans for high-voltage lines through residential areas of the city, and Mayor Kevin Burns said Gov. Jeb Bush called him to say he `shares our concerns.'


North Miami has hired a Tallahassee law firm to look into legal avenues of fighting FPL's plans to run high-voltage lines through the city's residential areas.

City attorney Lynn Whitfield told the City Council on Tuesday that she expects a report from Nabors Giblin & Nickerson soon. A decision from Florida Power & Light is expected within two weeks on whether to run the lines from Interstate 95 east along 135th Street or 125th and 123rd streets.

Mayor Kevin Burns said he was able to attract the attention of Gov. Jeb Bush, who phoned recently to say he ''shares our concerns,'' Burns said.

''I have to tell you I was shocked when he called my cellphone at 7 o'clock on a Saturday night,'' Burns said.

Residents at Tuesday's meeting said they have health concerns about EMF, or electromagnetic fields, from power lines and electrical appliances.

City Clerk Frank Wolland mentioned a 1996 court case in which former North Miami High School Principal Leonard Glazer sued FPL, claiming EMF from power lines at his Coral Gables homes caused his leukemia. A judge dismissed the case, hearing that most of the measured EMF came from grounded water pipes.

''It came down to a battle of expert testimony and I think FPL just had more money to hire experts,'' Wolland said.

FPL spokeswoman Aletha Player, who attended the meeting, said the link between EMF and disease "is not established.''

The American Cancer Society says ''there is conflicting evidence'' about EMF from high-voltage lines as a risk factor for leukemia, but the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has suggested limiting exposure to EMF when possible. The lines' route has been the subject of controversy since April, when FPL held a series of community meetings in North Miami and neighboring villages to discuss the need to run the high-voltage lines to connect a substation at Northeast 127th Street and 14th Avenue in North Miami, adjacent to the FEC tracks, and a substation at Northwest 93rd Street, between Fifth and Sixth avenues, just east of I-95. FPL says the lines are needed because the area's need has grown.

Concrete poles more than 80 feet tall, about twice as high as traditional power poles, would carry the lines.

After the April meetings in which dozens of possible routes were discussed, many residents in Biscayne Park, Miami Shores and El Portal banded together to keep the poles out of their villages.

The City Council's next meeting is scheduled for July 25, but Burns said a special meeting could be called to handle any developments in the FPL case.



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