Residents tell Ausgrid: back off

THE fight against the pole-mounted transformer (substation) in front of 45 Queensbury Road, Penshurst, continues and once again Ausgrid has been asked to back off and put it somewhere else.

No to transformer: Support is growing for the residents' fight with Ausgrid.Picture: John Veage

No to transformer: Support is growing for the residents' fight with Ausgrid.Picture: John Veage

Ausgrid said the project would go ahead and sent its technicians out yesterday.

The residents responded by parking their cars on the nature strip, denying Ausgrid access to the contentious site.

The residents are saying "no way" and have enlisted the support of Hurstville Council, Banks MP David Coleman and Oatley MP Mark Coure.

All intended to bombard the electricity company with letters and phone calls, demanding that the transformer be placed away from people's homes to allay health fears associated with electric and magnetic fields (EMF) from high-voltage substations.

But they did not expect Ausgrid to move so quickly.

The matter has been simmering since September last year whenAusgrid wrote to the residents around number 45 about the proposed transformer.

In July the residents went public in the Leader, demanding that the company find a less contentious place for the transformer.

But in October Ausgrid announced that a "small electricity transformer would be installed on top of a power pole in Queensbury Road, Penshurst, as part of plans to replace 50-year-old electrical infrastructure in the area".

At its recent meeting Hurstville Council decided to request Ausgrid to "investigate the installation of a 'kiosk'-type substation at the northern end of Queensbury Road, adjacent to the entrance to Olds Park, as a means of meeting additional consumer demand and providing additional capacity for any future upgrading for lighting facilities in Olds Park".

Mr Coleman and Mr Coure said they were strongly opposed to the installation of the substation in a residential area. "I believe Ausgrid can and should locate the substation in an area with less impact on residents," Mr Coleman said.

The residents, particularly Joy and Enzo Corvino, who live at number 45, feel they have been treated with contempt.

They are particularly terrified as they had lived next to an electrical substation in Leichhardt which they see as the cause of Mr Corvino's two bouts of throat cancer.

"If this goes up we can't live here," Mrs Corvino said.

Another fear is houses losing value.

After being denied access to the 45 Queensbury Road site the Ausgrid technicians moved down the road to mark out two other sites.

The Corvino's next-door neighbour Ross Smith said they had no idea that three transformers had been planned for the street.

"They never said anything at the meetings," Mr Smith said.

An Ausgrid spokesman said the project had been investigated twice over the past 12 months as part of lengthy consultation with the local community, and had been reviewed by the Electricity and Water Ombudsman of NSW.

He said Ausgrid needed to replace two old transformers in the street with three smaller ones.

EXPOSURE LEVELS

An Ausgrid spokesman said modelling and measurement of electric and magnetic fields showed there would be little or no change to magnetic fields as a result of the project.

The magnetic fields in Queensbury Road were expected to be a small fraction, or less than 4 miliGaus (mG), of the recommended 24-hour exposure levels of 1000mG set by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA).

To put this into some context, he said, electric and magnetic fields were created by all appliances. Examples of appliance measurements at typical distances experienced by users include:

❏ Televisions and electric fans - up to 2mG

❏ Computers - up to 20mG

❏ Electric stoves - up to 30mG

The transformer will be 1.5 metres wide and sit five metres above ground on a power pole.

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