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Residents upset over PSEG plans for North Lindenhurst substation

PSEG Long Island is building a substation in a North Lindenhurst neighborhood, angering nearby residents who said it will be located too close to homes.

The power company several months ago said it was considering building a substation on a LIPA-owned 200-foot by 200-foot vacant lot on the corner of Wellwood Avenue and Berry Street. At a meeting Wednesday night at the North Lindenhurst Fire Department, the company confirmed that the substation would be built at the site with construction starting this fall.

About 20 residents gathered for the meeting, with several expressing concern over issues such as the substation’s potential impact on health and home values.

“Who will buy those houses now, who?” asked Frances Orlando, an executive board member of the North Lindenhurst Civic Association.

Sal Volpe, who has lived on Berry street near the site for more than 50 years, said he was upset that no government officials were at the meeting. John O’Connell, PSEG Long Island vice president of transmission and distribution, said officials had been made aware of the meeting.

“The elected officials should have been here,” Volpe said. “Now we have to live with this monstrosity which is a hazard to our health.”

O’Connell said that, since 2007, the company has observed a continually increasing strain on the other five substations in the area. He said those stations have been upgraded but without another substation, power outages are imminent.

“If we could let this go and not do something now, we would,” he said. “But we’ve tried and we feel the time has come or else there are going to be problems.”

O’Connell said the company had looked at five other sites within the area but owners either did not want to negotiate or the sites had exorbitant costs associated with them, such as environmental clean-up.

“We’ve gone down a lot of dead-ends,” he said.

The new substation will be fed through underground lines and surrounded by an eight-foot high fence with an entrance on New Horizons Boulevard, O’Connell said. There will also be 25-foot trees surrounding the station, with an irrigation system installed.

“You think we’re concerned with trees?” Orlando asked. “It’s what’s coming out of the substation that worries us!”

Joshua Phinney, an engineer consultant for PSEG Long Island who was tasked with measuring the electromagnetic fields in the neighborhood, said that the fields created by the substation would be a fraction of that of household items such as an electric shaver.

“After thirty years and hundreds of studies none of the scientific organizations that have reviewed the medical literature have concluded that these levels of magnetic fields are the cause of any long-term health effects,” he said.

Many upset residents at the meeting remained unconvinced.

Theresa Hehir, of North Lindenhurst, said she knows there’s a need for more power because she’s watched as her electricity bill skyrocketed after her mother moved in recently.

“I’m one of the reasons for the drain,” she said. “I wish the emotions were taken out of it. I do see the need for a substation.”

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