Parents want power lines moved in Cave Creek

By Amanda Keim, Tribune

September 20, 2006

Most parents who spoke at the Cave Creek Unified School District board meeting on Tuesday asked the district to spend $1.4 million to move two high-voltage power lines away from Sonoran Trails Middle School.

The lines cross the parking lot at Sonoran Trails Middle School, which moved to a new campus at 5555 E. Pinnacle Vista Drive in Phoenix this year.

One transmission line, a 69,000-volt line run by Arizona Public Service, is 21 feet from the nearest building.

The other, a 230,000-volt line run by the federal Western Area Power Administration, is 87 feet away.

The district is looking into moving the lines to address health concerns.

Some studies have indicated a link between high electromagnetic field levels, or EMF, emitted by the lines and leukemia, but actual health risks are disputed.

Scottsdale resident Al Pazone said growing up in a house in a Chicago suburb less than 100 yards from high-voltage power lines proved to him that EMF is hazardous.

He said he had three tumors removed in the 18 years he lived there, and his mother died in August from Lou Gehrig’s disease, associated with EMF.

Pazone said his family — two children who attend Sonoran Trails and a wife who works there — probably wouldn’t continue at the school if the lines weren’t moved.

But Barbara Maroney said giving students a choice to attend Desert Arroyo, where her two children are enrolled, might be more cost effective.

Recent studies by Environmental Testing and Technology measured the strength of the EMF at the school, recording levels of 5.8 mili-Gauss.

That’s little more than half of the 10.9 mG average originally projected, although the company recommended a long-term study to be sure.

In comparison, microwave ranges generate 10 mG at two feet, says Western Area Power Administration.

The board can spend $1.4 million to move the lines 175 feet or more, or $1.3 million for 100 feet.

The board asked for more information, including a second opinion and possibly a long-term study.

Contact Amanda Keim by email, or phone (480) 970-2337



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