ASSESSMENT OF PROJECT EFFECTS ON PUBLIC HEALTH, SAFETY, AND SECURITY
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Prepared for: New York Power Authority
Prepared by: E/PRO Engineering & Environmental Consulting, LLC
Copyright © 2005 New York Power Authority
CDHS California Department of Health Services
EEANY Environmental Energy Alliance of New York
FEMA Federal Emergency Management Agency
FERC Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
IARC International Agency for Research on Cancer
ICNIRP International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection
IRM Installed Reserve Capacity
NERC North American Reliability Council
NIEHS National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
NRPB National Radiological Protection Board
NYISO New York Independent System Operator
NYPA New York Power Authority
NYSRC New York State Reliability Council
USEPA United States Environmental Protection Agency
WHO World Health Organization
Units of Measure
AC alternating current
gpm gallons per minute
Hz hertz, cycles per second
m milli (prefix for one-thousandth)
M mega (prefix for one million)
mgd million gallons per day
μ micro (prefix for one-millionth)
ppb parts per billion
ppm parts per million
VOC volatile organic compounds
V/m volts per meter
CEII Critical Energy Infrastructure Information
CFR Code of Federal Regulations
FOIA Freedom of Information Act
NEPA National Environmental Policy Act
SEQRA State Environmental Quality Review Act
SPDES State Pollution Discharge Elimination System
EMF electric and magnetic fields
ELF extremely low frequency
IPM Integrated Pest Management
IVM Integrated Vegetation Management
PAH polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbon
PCB polychlorinated biphenyl
PEL Probable Effect Level
TEL Threshold Effect Level
CDS conduit drainage system
EAP Emergency Action Plan
FST Falls Street Tunnel
LUNR Land Use and Natural Resources Inventory
LWRP Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan
NMPC Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation
WWTP wastewater treatment plant
Over the past three decades, there have been thousands of studies published related to possible health effects from electromagnetic fields (EMF). The studies have taken a variety of forms that can be categorized as animal studies, epidemiological studies, clinical studies, and cellular studies. Many of these studies have focused on the electric and magnetic fields associated with the 50- and 60-Hertz alternating current used in electric power systems (i.e., in the extremely low frequency range of the EMF spectrum). The EMF discussion presented in this report is largely compiled directly from comprehensive reviews and summaries of the literature.
Assessments of potential health risks due to EMF include numerous uncertainties. Comprehensive evaluations of published studies relating to the effects of power frequency electric and magnetic fields range from “…no conclusive and consistent evidence shows that exposure to residential electric and magnetic fields produce cancer, adverse neurobehavorial effects, or reproductive and developmental effects,” to “…there is a possibility that exposure to power frequency magnetic fields above 4 mG can increase the risk of leukemia in children.” Other conclusions state that “For most health outcomes, there is no evidence that EMF exposures have adverse effects.” and, “The best available evidence at this time leads to the conclusion that there is an association between measured magnetic fields and childhood leukemia, but the association is weak and it is not clear whether it represents a cause-and-effect relationship.”
There are no federal standards for limiting occupational or residential exposure to 60-Hz EMF. Some states, however, have adopted standards or guidelines for EMF exposure. New York State has adopted both electrical and magnetic field standards. Relevant measurements taken at the Niagara Power Project show that the Project is in compliance with the New York State standards.
EMF exposures are complex and come from multiple sources in the home and workplace in addition to power lines. Although scientists are still debating whether EMF is a hazard to health, several entities recommend that exercising prudent avoidance, that is limiting exposure by adopting simple, reasonable, practical, and inexpensive measures is a common sense thing to do.
New York Power Authority’s (NYPA) Niagara Power Project uses a series of industrial chemicals/substances that are typical of the utility sector. These chemicals and substances are in widespread use throughout the Niagara region and elsewhere wherever large rotating equipment is used and maintained and wherever electric power is generated and transmitted in large quantities.
NYPA has developed and implemented numerous policies and procedures regarding the safe handling, use, storage, transport, and disposal of chemicals and substances associated with the Niagara Power Project. These policies and procedures ensure that the Project is in full compliance with all applicable State and Federal regulations. In addition, NYPA staff members are thoroughly trained to deal with unforeseen spills and emergencies in the unlikely event that such situations should occur.
No radioactive materials have been, or are currently used, stored, generated, or buried at the Niagara Power Project facility or on Project lands.
As part of its preparation for the relicensing of the Niagara Power Project, NYPA has conducted numerous studies related to the ecological, engineering, recreational, cultural and socioeconomic aspects of the Project. Four of the studies, all related to the Lewiston Reservoir, were designated as potentially yielding valuable information relative to toxic substances or contaminants that might have adverse health effects. The four studies, Tetra Tech 2005, URS et al. 2003, ESI 2005, and Louis Berger 2005, and were conducted in 2002-2004.
Tetra Tech 2005 found that based on observed physical and chemical characteristics, it seems unlikely that drawdown would be a significant factor in enhancing the bioaccumulation of mercury in fish in the reservoir. Aqueous sampling in the reservoir indicated that most samples had concentrations below detection levels and that the one sample with detectable methylmercury had a very low concentration. Although there is very little aqueous phase mercury available, what is available supports the conclusion that Lewiston Reservoir is not a site of enhanced methylation. Nonetheless, fish throughout the Niagara River corridor and, indeed, throughout New York may have elevated levels of mercury due to the widespread nature of this metal. Therefore, any fish advisory that applies to the upper Niagara River should logically also apply to fish from Lewiston Reservoir.
For ESI 2005, sediment sampling was conducted in the Lewiston Reservoir, the forebay, and the upper and lower Niagara River. The sediment samples were analyzed for multiple constituents, including 18 priority toxic pollutants identified in the Niagara River Toxics Management Plan and five additional parameters of interest to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
The fine-grained sediment encountered in the Lewiston Reservoir was targeted in the study because its physical and chemical characteristics are more likely to contain chemical constituents thus providing a “worst case scenario”. The sediment obtained from the forebay was very coarse-grained (sand, gravel, and cobbles) and was very limited in volume. Consequently, forebay sediments were not assessed as to their chemical or physical quality.
In general, the constituents detected in the Lewiston Reservoir sediments (polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), mirex, arsenic, lead, and mercury) were also detected in the Niagara River sediments. The detected constituent levels in the Lewiston Reservoir samples were similar to, and in some instances considerably less than, the levels detected in the Niagara River sediments. With the exception of one PCB Aroclor (Aroclor 1242), there were no constituents detected in the Lewiston Reservoir that were not detected in the upper Niagara River and/or the lower Niagara River, upstream of the tailrace.
Due to natural partitioning processes assumed to have taken place in Lewiston Reservoir sediments, the fine-grained-nature of the sediments, the sediment organic carbon levels, the extremely low solubility’s of some of the chemicals of concern, and the pH of the overlying water, the presence of chemicals in bed sediments indicates they will remain there. In addition, designated sampling areas are depositional in nature, and likely serve as sinks for chemicals introduced into the reservoir.
URS et al. 2003 evaluated effects of Project operations on; (1) groundwater levels, flow, and quality in the vicinity of Lewiston Reservoir; (2) Groundwater infiltration into the Falls Street Tunnel (FST) near the intersection with the NYPA conduits; (3) overall groundwater levels, flow, and quality.
The study found that the effects of Lewiston Reservoir on groundwater include the following: the lateral extent of reservoir recharge influenced groundwater flow in the upper weathered bedrock zone extends approximately 1,500 feet to the east; this flow is limited to the north and east by groundwater flow divides; the presence of the reservoir likely acts to stabilize groundwater levels within this zone of influence; and the presence of the reservoir and project operations do not significantly adversely impact groundwater or surface water quality.
URS et al. 2003 also found that groundwater infiltration into the FST near the intersection of the NYPA conduits is estimated at an average of 4,500 gallons per minute (gpm) or 6.5 million gallons per day (mgd); infiltration varies directly with forebay water levels; and that approximately 75% of groundwater infiltration in this area is likely attributable to water flow through the conduit drainage system (CDS).
URS et al. 2003 further concluded that the influence of the NYPA conduits accounts for increased direct seepage of groundwater into the FST and that some of the water captured by the CDS also contributes to the FST seepage. The CDS terminates at Pump station B, where flow from the CDS into the conduits (and ultimately to the forebay) was estimated at approximately 7,000 gpm or 10 mdg. Operationally induced forebay level changes directly impact the rate of groundwater infiltration. Contaminants detected in the vicinity of the conduits were not, however, detected in forebay water samples.
Louis Berger 2005 postulated that the exposure of fish to contaminants in the Lewiston Reservoir is generally similar to the exposure of fish to contaminants in areas of the upper Niagara River and its tributaries with lower flow velocity and fine-grained sediment. Since exposure pathways in the Lewiston Reservoir and the Niagara River are also similar with regard to water, sediment, and prey items, the contaminant levels in fish in the two water bodies are expected to be within the same range. Because contaminant levels in fish living in the reservoir are expected to be similar to fish in the Upper Niagara River, the current health advisory provided by the New York State Department of Health for consumption of carp caught in the upper Niagara River should also be observed for carp caught from Lewiston Reservoir. In addition, any future advisories that may be developed for the river by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and the New York State Department of Health should be considered applicable to Lewiston Reservoir fish.
Safety and Security
There are several safety issues inherent to hydropower projects and their associated facilities. For this reason, hydropower projects under FERC jurisdiction are subject to regular safety inspections by FERC inspectors. In addition, hydropower project licensees are required to hire an independent consultant to perform periodic safety inspections and reports. These reports result in recommendations aimed at correcting or improving safety-related issues found during inspections. FERC requires that each of these recommendations be addressed with corrective measures within a prescribed timeframe. The requirements of these regular safety inspections and periodic reports are defined in Chapter 18, Part 12 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). NYPA is in compliance with these requirements.
One safety issue related to dams is the possible sudden release of water and the significant increase in downstream hazard that could occur as a result of dam failure. For this reason, a facility capable of causing such impacts in the event of failure must design and maintain an Emergency Action Plan (EAP). This plan describes emergency measures to be enacted at the first sign of potential or imminent failure, for the purpose of minimizing downstream impacts. The EAP is comprehensively reviewed for adequacy on an annual basis. Requirements of the EAP are described in Chapter 18, Part 12 of the CFR. NYPA maintains a current EAP for the Project and is in compliance with these requirements.
Since September 11, 2001, security has been an issue of elevated concern nationwide. In an immediate effort to secure potentially sensitive information relative to hydropower facilities, FERC imposed rules regarding Critical Energy Infrastructure Information (CEII). This measure retracted from public accessibility all documents that contain potentially sensitive information about the project, including some types of maps and descriptions of security measures. The provisions of the CEII rules, including information regarding stakeholder access to CEII, are outlined in Chapter 18, Part 388 of the CFR. NYPA complies with the provisions of these rules.
Also in response to heightened national security, the FERC developed the FERC Security Program for Hydropower Projects (Security Program, FERC 2002). This program requires that all hydropower licensees assess and address security issues at their projects to a degree consistent with the potential threat associated with that project, as determined by FERC. The Security Program includes regular security assessments performed by a FERC inspector. In addition, it prescribes certain safety measures to be enacted at all facilities during various degrees of national alert and guidelines for action in the event of a terrorist threat. The results and recommendations of security assessments are absolutely non-public. Information on safety measures (that are not readily visible) is also non-public. The FERC Security Program was developed and is monitored by a task force composed of about 23 members; two of who are NYPA employees. NYPA is in compliance with all requirements of the Security Program.
The most significant contributor to potential terrorist threat in the area of the Project appears to be associated with international border crossings. The area surrounding the Project harbors a number of other developments that may contribute minimally to the potential attraction of terrorism. These include other power facilities (chemical, nuclear and other), tourist destinations, an airport, and a military venue. The community has responded to security issues in the form of general preparation to deal with a possible attack. It is probable that if the Project did not exist, the community would not apply security-allocated funds any differently than it currently does. Available evidence indicates that the costs of providing local security-related services as a result of the Project are minimal..
If a failure of the Project facility that precluded its ability to provide power were to occur, the lost generation would immediately (within 10 minutes) and continuously be replaced pursuant to operating criteria of the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO).
The New York Power Authority (NYPA) is engaged in the relicensing of the Niagara Power Project in Lewiston, Niagara County, New York. The present operating license on the plant expires in August 2007. As part of it preparation for the relicensing of the Niagara Power Project, NYPA is developing/gathering information related to various aspects of the Project. As part of the Alternative Licensing Process, an assessment of potential impacts due to Project operations and facilities (e.g., transmission lines and substations within the Project boundary) on public health, safety, and security was identified as an issue that the stakeholders wished to have addressed. This report presents information that has been gathered for specific issues identified by the stakeholders: electromagnetic fields, toxic substances and contaminants, and safety and security issues. The report provides an assessment of this information as it relates to the Niagara Power Project.
Over the past three decades, there have been thousands of studies published in the peer-reviewed literature relating to possible health effects associated with electric and magnetic fields. This body of research includes studies on cells and cellular systems, whole animals, and human volunteers, as well as epidemiology studies of the rates of disease in human populations exposed to electromagnetic fields (EMF) at home and at work. Many of these studies have focused on the electric and magnetic fields associated with the 50- and 60- Hertz (Hz) alternating current (AC) used in electric power systems.
The EMF discussion presented in this report is largely compiled directly from comprehensive reviews and summaries of the literature on the potential impacts, if any, that electromagnetic fields might have on human beings. Primary among the sources include: NIEHS 2002; WHO 1999; WHO 2002; Moulder 2004; NRC 1997; and Kheifets 2001.
Electric and magnetic fields or electromagnetic fields (EMF) are invisible lines of force that occur wherever there is electricity. Sources of EMF include power lines, radio and microwave towers, household appliances such as clothes dryers, hair dryers, toasters, stoves and televisions, and electrical office equipment. Electric fields are produced by differences in voltage and they increase in strength as voltage increases. Electric fields are measured in units of volts per meter (V/m). Magnetic fields result from the flow of current through wires or electrical devices, and they increase in strength as the current increases. Magnetic fields are measured in units of gauss (G) or tesla (T). An electric field exists when an appliance is connected to the source of electric power i.e., “plugged in” regardless of whether any current is flowing. The magnetic field exists only when the appliance is “turned on” so that current is flowing. Both electric fields and magnetic fields decrease in strength rapidly as the distance from the source increases.
Electric and magnetic fields can be characterized by their wavelength, frequency, and amplitude (strength). Wavelength describes the distance between peaks along the sinusoidal waveform produced by electromagnetic fields. The frequency of the field, measured in Hertz (Hz), describes the number of cycles that occur in one second. The electromagnetic spectrum encompasses a very wide range of frequencies (0 to 1022+ Hz). Within this spectrum, various frequencies are characterized as extremely low frequency waves, very low frequency waves, radio waves, microwaves infrared radiation, ultraviolet radiation, X-rays, and gamma rays (see Figure 2.1.1-1). Alternating current (AC) electric power produced in North America alternates at a rate of 60 cycles per second, or 60 Hz and as such is in the extremely low frequency (ELF) range (3-3,000Hz). In many other parts of the world (e.g., Europe) the frequency of AC electric power is 50 Hz.
In the ELF range, electric and magnetic fields are not coupled or interrelated in the same way that they are at higher frequencies. Thus, it is more appropriate to refer to them as “electric and magnetic fields” rather than “electromagnetic fields”. In the popular press, however, both terms are typically abbreviated as EMF.
Electromagnetic fields occur in nature, light being its most familiar form, and thus have always been present on earth. During the twentieth century, however, environmental exposure to man-made sources of EMF steadily increased due to electricity demand, ever-advancing wireless technologies and changes in work practices and social behavior. Everyone is exposed to a complex mix of electric and magnetic fields at many different frequencies, at home and at work.
Potential health effects of man-made EMF have been a topic of scientific interest since the late 1800s and have received particular attention during the past 30 years. There have been thousands of studies published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature over the past three decades, relating to possible health effects of power frequency EMF. This research includes studies on cells and cellular systems, whole animals, and human volunteers, as well as epidemiology studies on the rates of disease in human populations exposed to EMF at home and at work.
Electrical currents exist naturally in the human body and are an essential part of normal bodily functions. All nerves relay their signals by transmitting electric impulses. Most biochemical reactions, from those associated with digestion to those involved in brain activity, involve electrical processes. The effect of external exposure to EMF on the human body and its cells depends mainly on the EMF frequency and magnitude, or strength. Low frequency electric fields are readily shielded and do not penetrate the body significantly, but they do build up a charge on its surface. As a result, electric currents flow from the skin to the ground (earth). In an alternating electric field (AC current), the currents flowing in the body change direction as the surface of the body builds up a charge on it that is alternatively positive and negative. In some alternating electric fields, for example beneath power lines, some people can feel the alternating charge when the hair on their body begins to vibrate. This is not harmful, but it can be annoying.
Low frequency magnetic fields can easily penetrate the body causing circulating currents to flow within in it. These currents do not necessarily flow to ground. If sufficiently large, the currents could cause stimulation of nerves and muscles and affect other biological processes.
Heating is the main biological effect of high frequency EMF (as employed in microwave ovens). At the even higher frequencies of ionizing radiation (e.g., X-rays or gamma rays) the chemical bonds within molecules can be broken and a cell’s genetic material can be damaged. The low ELF’s produced by electric transmission lines are called “non-ionizing” because they are far too weak to break molecular bonds. In fact, ELF’s have quantum energies that are more than a trillion times lower than ionizing radiation.
Over the past 30 years, thousands of EMF related studies have been performed, especially in Europe and the United States. These studies have taken a variety of forms that can be categorized as animal studies, epidemiological studies, clinical studies, and cellular studies.
Laboratory studies with cells and animals can provide evidence to help determine if an agent such as EMF causes disease. Cellular studies can increase our understanding of the biological mechanisms by which disease occurs. Experiments with animals provide a means to observe effects of specific agents under carefully controlled conditions. Neither cellular nor animal studies, however, can recreate the complex nature of the whole human organism and its environment. Therefore, one must use caution in applying the results of cellular or animal studies directly to humans or concluding that a lack of an effect in laboratory studies proves that an agent is safe. Even with these limitations, cellular and animal studies have proven very useful for identifying and understanding the toxicity of numerous chemicals and physical agents.
Very specific laboratory conditions are needed for researchers to be able to detect EMF effects, and experimental exposures are not easily comparable to human exposures. In most cases, it is not clear how EMF actually produces the effects observed in some experiments. Without understanding how the effects occur, it is difficult to evaluate how laboratory results relate to human health effects.
Some laboratory studies have reported that EMF exposure can produce biological effects, including changes in functions of cells and tissues, and subtle changes in hormone levels in animals. It is important to distinguish between a biological effect and a health effect. Many biological effects are within the normal range of variation and are not necessarily harmful. For example, bright light has a biological effect on our eyes, causing the pupils to constrict, which is a normal and non-harmful response.
In clinical studies, researchers use sensitive instruments to monitor human physiology during controlled exposure to environmental agents. In EMF studies, volunteers are exposed to electric or magnetic fields at higher levels than those commonly encountered in everyday life. Researchers measure heart rate, brain activity, hormonal levels, and other factors in exposed and unexposed groups to look for differences resulting from the EMF exposure.
A valuable tool to identify human health risks is to study a human population that has experienced the exposure. This type of research is called epidemiology. Epidemiological studies observe and compare groups of people who have had or have not had certain diseases and exposures to see if the risk of disease is different between the exposed and unexposed groups. The epidemiological studies do not control the exposure and cannot experimentally control all the factors that might affect the risk of disease.
In 1979, concern about the link between cancer and public exposures to magnetic fields arose because of a study by Wertheimer and Leeper (1979) on the incidence of childhood cancer in Denver, CO. This study, and the public and media interest it generated, stimulated most of the scientific research that followed. Although the earliest studies suggested an association between EMF exposure and all forms of childhood cancer, those initial findings have not been confirmed by other studies.
Summary conclusions of several major review studies are presented below.
In October 1996, the National Research Council committee of the National Academy of Sciences (NRC 1997) released its evaluation of research on potential associations between EMF exposure and cancer, reproduction, development, learning, and behavior. The report concluded:
Based on a comprehensive evaluation of published studies relating to the effects of power frequency electric and magnetic fields on cells, tissues, and organisms (including humans), the conclusion of the committee is that the current body of evidence does not show that exposure to these fields presents a human health hazard. Specifically, no conclusive and consistent evidence shows that exposures to residential electric and magnetic field produce cancer, adverse neurobehavioral effects, or reproductive and developmental effects.
In June 1999, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), a branch of the U.S. National Institutes of Health reported to Congress that scientific evidence for an EMF-cancer link is weak. An excerpt from the 1999 report, which may be accessed via NIEHS 2002, reads:
The NIEHS believes that the probability that EMF-ELF exposure is truly a health hazard is currently small. The weak epidemiological associations and lack of any laboratory support for these associations provide only marginal, scientific support that exposure to this agent is causing any degree of harm.
The scientific evidence suggesting that extremely low frequency EMF exposures pose any health risk is weak. The strongest evidence for health effects comes from associations observed in human populations with two forms of cancer: childhood leukemia and chronic lymphocytic leukemia in occupationally exposed adults. While the support for individual studies is weak, the epidemiological studies demonstrate, for some methods of measuring exposure, a fairly consistent pattern of a small, increased risk with increasing exposure that is somewhat weaker for chronic lymphocytic leukemia than for childhood leukemia. In contrast, the mechanistic studies and the animal toxicology literature fail to demonstrate any consistent pattern across studies, although sporadic findings of biological effects (including increased cancers in animals) have been reported. No indication of increased leukemias in experimental animals has been observed.
In 1996, the World Health Organization (WHO) established the International Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) Project to address the health issues associated with exposure to EMF. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a specialized research agency of WHO, has concluded the first step in WHO’s health risk assessment process by classifying ELF fields with respect to the strength-of-the-evidence that they could cause cancer in humans. Using the standard IARC classification that weighs human, animal and laboratory evidence, ELF magnetic fields were classified as possibly carcinogenic to humans based on epidemiological studies of childhood leukemia. Evidence for all other cancers in children and adults was considered not classifiable either due to insufficient or inconsistent scientific information.
“Possibly carcinogenic to humans” is a classification used to denote an agent for which there is limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans and less than sufficient evidence for carcinogenicity in experimental animals. This classification is the weakest of three categories (“is carcinogenic to humans”, probably carcinogenic to humans”, and “possibly carcinogenic to humans”) used by the IARC to classify potential carcinogens based on published scientific evidence. Some examples of well-known agents that have been classified by IARC are shown in Table 2.1.4-1.
A review by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (2001) concluded that:
In the absence of evidence from cellular or animal studies, and given the methodological uncertainties and in many cases inconsistencies of the existing epidemiological literature, there is no chronic disease for which an etiological [causal] relation to [power-frequency fields] can be regarded as established.
In May 2003, the U.K. National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) released a “Consultation Document” which reviews the body of EMF research and makes exposure recommendations (NRPB 2001). A key conclusion from the NRPB Consultation Document is that:
Recent expert reviews have identified an apparent increased risk of childhood leukemia with time-weighted exposure to power frequency magnetic fields above 4mG. While this evidence is inconclusive as to whether magnetic fields actually cause childhood leukemia, there is a “possibility” that exposure to power frequency magnetic fields above 4mG can increase the risk of leukemia in children.
In June 2002, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) issued an updated version of its public information booklet on EMF (NIEHS 2002). The NIEHS booklet seeks to provide plain language answers for the public on questions about sources and levels of EMF exposures at home and work, as well as the state of EMF research, exposure standards and conclusions of scientific reviews. Key points from the NIEHS EMF Q&A booklet include:
Initial studies of the health effects of EMF did not provide straightforward answers. The study of possible health effects of EMF has been particularly complex and the results have been reviewed by expert scientific panels in the United States and other countries. Although questions remain about the possibility of health effects related to EMF, recent reviews have substantially reduced the level of concern….
For most health outcomes, there is no evidence that EMF exposures have adverse effects. The best available evidence at this time leads to the conclusion that there is an association between measured magnetic fields and childhood leukemia, but the association is weak and it is not clear whether it represents a cause-and-effect relationship. The association is difficult to interpret in the absence of reproducible laboratory evidence or a scientific explanation that links magnetic fields with childhood leukemia….
At present, the available series of studies indicates no association between EMF exposure and childhood cancers other than leukemia and that there have been no proven instances of cancer clusters linked with EMF exposure.
In October 2002, the California Department of Health Services (CDHS) issued a report on EMF health risks (Neutra et al. 2002). The CDHS EMF report was prepared by three staff scientists at the California Health Program, in consultation with other CDHS scientists and an independent Scientific Advisory Panel of scientists and researchers from universities and other organizations in California. The CDHS Report concludes in part that: “To one degree or another, all three of the CDHS scientists are inclined to believe that EMFs can cause some degree of increased risk of childhood leukemia, adult brain cancer and Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and miscarriage.” Under the IARC cancer evaluation scheme, the CDHS researchers classify EMF as a “possible to known” cause of childhood and adult leukemia, and a possible cause of adult brain cancer, Lou Gehrig’s disease, and miscarriage. The researchers “strongly” believe that EMF exposure is not a “universal” carcinogen and is not a risk factor for birth defects or low birth weight. The researchers are “inclined to believe” that EMF exposure is not a risk factor for breast cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, depression, or “electrosensitivity”.
In the United States, there are no federal standards limiting occupational or residential exposure to 60-Hz EMF. At least six states, however, have set standards for transmission line electric fields; two of these also have standards for magnetic fields (see Table 188.8.131.52-1). In most cases, the maximum fields permitted by each state are the maximum fields that existing lines produce at maximum load-carrying conditions. Some states, such as New York, further limit electric field strength at road crossings to ensure that electric current induced into large metal objects, such as trucks and buses, does not represent an electric shock hazard. The New York State guidelines require new transmission lines to be designed so that the maximum magnetic field at the edge of the right-of-way will not exceed that produced by the average 345-kilovolt line now in operation. This interim magnetic field standard of 200 milligauss at the edge of right-of-way applies when the line is operating at the highest continuous current rating. This rating is rarely reached during normal operations and thus routine operations usually create much lower magnetic fields. The New York State standard for electric fields is 1.6 kilovolts per meter at the edge of transmission line rights-of-way for power lines built since the 1970’s. The 345 kV transmission lines operated by NYPA within the Project Boundary meet both the electric and magnetic field standards established by New York State.
International guidelines on exposure limits for all EMF have been developed by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), a non-governmental organization partner in WHO’s International EMF Project. The ICNIRP guidelines for public exposure for 60 Hz magnetic and electric fields are 0.84 G and 4.2 kV/m, respectively. Limits of EMF exposure recommended in many countries are broadly similar to those of ICNIRP. While the ICNIRP guidelines for EMF exposure are based on comprehensive reviews of the full range of EMF studies, the limits are intended to prevent health effects related to short-term acute exposure. This is because ICNIRP considers the scientific information on potential carcinogenicity of ELF fields insufficient for establishing quantitative limits on exposure. The U.K. National Radiation Protection Board has established guidelines for public exposure for 60 Hz at 13.3 G and 10 kV/m for magnetic and electric fields respectively.
More frequently than guidelines, governments have adopted the concept of prudent avoidance when dealing with EMF. Prudent avoidance is an approach to making decisions about risks. This decision-making process is based on judgment and values, can be applied by groups and individuals, and can be considered for all aspects of our lives, including EMFs. Prudent avoidance applied to EMFs means adopting measures to avoid EMF exposures when it is reasonable, practical, relatively inexpensive and simple to do. This position or course of action can be taken even if the risks are uncertain and safety issues are unresolved as in the case of EMF at extremely low frequencies. Since its introduction, prudent avoidance has been adopted in Australia, Sweden, and several U.S. states, including California, Colorado, Hawaii, New York, Ohio, Texas, and Wisconsin. Other states, such as Connecticut and Missouri, and the District of Columbia have rejected a policy of prudent avoidance because of insufficient evidence and lack of scientific consensus on the EMF issue.
In the United States, prudent avoidance has been interpreted to mean everything from adopting the best available practices to implementing low-cost steps in constructing new power lines. A NIEHS report (1999) states “the NIEHS believes that there is weak evidence for possible health effects from ELF-EMF exposures, and until stronger evidence changes this opinion, inexpensive and safe reductions in exposure should be encouraged.” While noting that aggressive regulatory concern is not warranted, because the use of electricity and therefore the exposure to ELF-EMF is ubiquitous, the report states that “passive regulatory action is warranted such as a continued emphasis on educating both the public and the community on means aimed at reducing exposures.” Prudent avoidance does not imply setting exposure limits at an arbitrarily low level and requiring that they be achieved regardless of cost, but rather adopting measures to reduce public exposure to EMF at modest cost.
The precautionary principle is one of many guides society can use when deciding whether to take action from possible harm. It is an essentially “better safe than sorry” approach suggesting that action should be taken to avoid harm even when it is not certain to occur. As established at the1992 Treaty of Maastricht, the precautionary principle is to “Take prudent action when there is sufficient scientific evidence (but not necessarily absolute proof) that inaction could lead to harm and where action can be justified on reasonable judgments of cost-effectiveness” (Kheifets 2001). Given the uncertainty and public concern about EMF, the ubiquity of EMF exposure from a multitude of sources, and the potential for an appreciable public health impact associated with even a small risk, it has been suggested by some parties that the precautionary principle be adopted with regard to EMF. Application of the precautionary principle to EMF has several unique and interesting aspects; among them the use of everyday exposure levels as a benchmark, the distinction between new and existing electrical facilities, exposure to children, and the involuntary nature of the exposure. Since it is presently unknown what, if any, levels or characteristics of exposure might be harmful, several applications of the precautionary principle have used existing EMF exposure levels as a benchmark. The New York Public Service Commission, for example, limits new construction to designs “…that produce magnetic fields no stronger than those already common throughout the state.” (Stilwell 1996).
Limiting application of the precautionary principle to new facilities is common to most entities that have adopted it. Implicit in the focus on new facilities is consideration of costs, which are typically higher for retrofitting existing facilities than for modifying the design of new ones.
As noted in Section 2.1.1, electric and magnetic fields occur wherever there is electricity. The Niagara Power Project is a generator of electric power in New York State and, thus, is a source of electric and magnetic fields. However, nearly all of the electric and magnetic fields associated with the Project are contained within the various pieces of rotating and electrified equipment and are not encountered by the general public.
In 1995, NYPA commissioned a magnetic field “traffic study” of its facilities, primarily focused on areas internal to NYPA structures. Measurements of magnetic fields were also collected from areas that could be approached by the public such as the gate to the switchyard and the parking areas near the Lewiston Pump Generating Project. In all cases, these accessible areas were found to have magnetic fields no larger than typical background levels (e.g., ≤ 2 mG).
There are 345 kV transmission lines associated with the Niagara Power Project within the Project Boundary. NYPA has studied and modeled the manner in which magnetic fields occur on, and adjacent to, the rights-of-way associated with these transmission lines. As noted earlier, the magnitude of magnetic fields produced by transmission lines is proportional to the voltage of the line and the level of power flow in the line, among other factors. Figure 2.2-1 shows the profile of magnetic fields associated with the 345 kV transmission lines in those instances where two circuits occupy a single ROW. Figure 2.2-1 represents the level of magnetic field as a function of the distance from the center of the right-of-way at a load of 800 MW. This value is historically considered the “L01 power level”: or the level that is exceeded only one per cent (1%) of the time. Note that the value at the edge of the right-of-way under these conditions is approximately 105 mG, a value well below the New York State standard of 200 mG. The graph also shows the characteristic attenuation pattern for magnetic fields: a rapid drop-off with increasing distance from the centerline of the right-of-way, with low values persisting for some distance beyond the edge of the right-of-way.
The characteristic curve is changed when another transmission line exists along side of the NYPA’s 345 kV transmission lines. For instance, in the section of the Project Boundary nearest the Niagara substation, there is a 115 kV transmission line owned and operated by the Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation (NMPC), a National Grid company. In 1993, NYPA conducted a survey of magnetic field values at the request of Niagara University, which had been receiving inquiries from students regarding the possible existence of atypical fields in the vicinity of the nearby recreational facilities. The 1993 report confirms that there are no values substantially greater than background levels in the vicinity of NYPA’s substation. The results of the 1993 investigation indicated that any magnetic fields in the vicinity of Niagara University are associated with the NMPC 115 kV line and ranged from 1.7 to 28 mG and that the fields attenuate to background very rapidly with distance from that right-of-way. Magnetic field readings were 3.5 mG in the vicinity of the baseball field dugout closest to the transmission line, and 5.5 mG at the leftfield corner of the ballfield. A copy of the engineering report is attached as Appendix A to this report.
Beginning in 2003, NYPA instituted a program to provide copies of a booklet published by the United States Department of Energy that explains the nature of EMF to landowners adjacent to all of its rights-of-way within New York State.
National and international studies have concluded that there is a low probability of risk associated with electric and magnetic fields at the values experienced by the public from equipment associated with electric power generation and transmission. NYPA’s modeling and measurements show that the electric and magnetic fields found within the Project Boundary meet the standards set by New York State. Electric and magnetic fields associated with the Niagara Power Project are mostly contained within the structures; transmission line fields are rarely encountered by the public.
Examples of Agents
Carcinogenic to Humans
(usually based on strong evidence of carcinogenicity in humans)
Probably carcinogenic to humans
(usually based on strong evidence of carcinogenicity in animals)
Diesel engine exhaust
Possibly Carcinogenic to humans
(usually based on evidence in humans which is considered credible, but for which other explanations could not be ruled out)
Gasoline engine exhaust
ELF magnetic fields
Edge of ROW
Edge of ROW
150 mGa (max. load)
200 mGb (max. load)
250 mGc (max. load)
200 mG (max. load)
*ROW = right-of-way (or in Florida standard, certain additional areas adjoining the right-of-way). kV/m = kilovolt per meter. One kilovolt = 1,000 volts. aFor lines of 69-230 kV. bFor 500 kV lines. cFor 500 kV lines in certain existing ROW dMaximum for highway crossings. eMay be waived by the landowner. fMaximum for private road crossings.
Source: NIEHS 2002
New York Power Authority’s Niagara Power Project uses a series of industrial chemicals/substances that are typical of the utility sector of the economy. These chemicals and substances are in widespread use throughout the Niagara region and elsewhere wherever large rotating equipment is used and maintained and wherever electric power is generated and transmitted in large quantities. The general public is not exposed to any significant quantities of these chemicals and substances during the routine operation and maintenance of the Niagara Power Project.
NYPA has developed and implemented numerous policies and procedures regarding the safe handling, use, storage, transport, and disposal of chemicals and substances associated with the Niagara Power Project. These policies and procedures ensure that the Project is in full compliance with all applicable State and Federal regulations. In addition, NYPA staff members are thoroughly trained to deal with unforeseen spills and emergencies in the unlikely event that such situations should occur.
· Pursuant to state and federal regulations and in accordance with general good housekeeping and safety practices, NYPA has developed and implemented several policies and procedures that are germane to the Niagara Power Project. These policies and procedures include the following:
· Administration and Implementation of Environmental Policies and Procedures – This policy defines the responsibilities of Licensing Managers, Project Managers, Area Regional Managers, and the Director of the Environmental Division for the administration and implementation of Environmental Polices and Procedures to ensure that NYPA complies with its Commitment to the Environment Statement,
· Use of Chemical Materials at Authority Projects – This policy is to ensure the only fully certified and State and Federally registered chemical products which present minimal risk to the environment are used by the NYPA.
· NYPA Waste Management and Minimization – This policy is to ensure that generation of hazardous waste and other liquid waste at all NYPA projects and buildings is minimized whenever and to the maximum extent feasible; and that waste that is generated by NYPA is managed in accordance with all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations and in such a way as to minimize the present and future impact on human health and the environment.
· Integrated Pest Management – This policy establishes a program to limit, wherever possible, the use of pesticides for the control of pest infestations, to provide for an on-going, practical non-chemical approach to avoid pest infestation, to establish education on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques and practices for both building management and general work site employees, and to establish a mechanism for evaluating IPM program effectiveness.
· Prevention of Spills – this procedure is for the development of plans and on-site procedures for the prevention of spills of oils, hazardous wastes, or hazardous substances.
· Spill Response - this procedure provides for the development of plans and on-site procedures for response to spills of oil, hazardous waste or hazardous substances.
· Hazardous Waste Determination – This procedure provides for determining if a waste material should be classified as a hazardous waste and thereby, require handling in accordance with hazardous waste procedures.
· Hazardous Waste Generator Status – This procedure ensures that NYPA facilities appropriately determine their hazardous waste generator status in accordance with New York State regulations and handle any hazardous materials appropriately.
· Audits and Assessments of Environmental Performance – This procedure provides for the periodic evaluation of methods and performance to assure the NYPA activities which may affect the environment are performed in a manner consistent with applicable laws, regulations, policies, and procedures.
· Storage of Waste Materials – This procedure provides for the proper storage of waste materials to ensure that they are stored in an environmentally sound manner and in accordance with regulatory requirements.
· Waste Transporters – This procedure provides for securing a transporter for the removal of waste materials to off-site facilities in accordance with applicable regulations.
· Manifest/Shipping Preparation – this procedure provides for the preparation of hazardous waste materials for shipping, to include preparation of a hazardous waste manifest, to insure that such wastes are transported for disposal in an environmentally sound manner and in accordance with applicable regulatory requirements.
· Handling Waste Generated from Contractor Activities – This procedure provides for the proper handling of wastes generated during contractor activities to ensure that such wastes are managed in an environmentally sound manner and in accordance with regulatory requirements.
· Disposition of Waste Materials – This procedure provides for the proper disposition of waste materials and to ensure that they are handled in and environmentally sound manner and in accordance with regulatory requirements.
Pursuant to federal and state regulations, NYPA has developed a Spill Prevention, Containment and Countermeasure Plan (SPCC Plan) for the Niagara Power Project (NYPA 2003). Facilities included in the SPCC Plan are the Robert Moses Niagara Power plant, the Lewiston Pump Generating Plant, and the Niagara Switchyard. The SPCC Plan is a detailed written description, prepared in accordance with regulatory requirements and good engineering practices, of the equipment, workforce, procedures and steps to prevent, control and provide adequate countermeasures to a discharge. The SPCC Plan addresses the following items:
· The type of oil in each piece of equipment or tank and its storage capacity;
· Discharge prevention measures including procedures for routine handling of products;
· Discharge or drainage controls, such as secondary containment around tanks and other structures, equipment and procedures for controlling a discharge; countermeasures for discharge discovery, response and cleanup;
· Methods for disposing of recovered materials; and
· A contact list and phone numbers for the facility response coordinator, national Response Center, cleanup contractors and all appropriate federal, state, and local agencies
In addition to a detailed description of every oil storage facility including the product stored, its location, and maximum quantity, the SPCC Plan contains sections on:
· A Contingency Plan For Responding to a Spill,
· Methods of Spill Containment
· An Environmental Incident Report form
· A Summary of Tank Inspection Procedures’
· A Hazardous Waste Contingency Plan,
· A Chemical Bulk Storage Spill Prevention Plan (Report), and
· Emergency Oil Spill Response Service Contracts
The NYPA SPCC Plan for the Niagara Power Project is in full compliance with state and federal guidelines and is periodically updated as conditions warrant. The Niagara Power Project SPCC Plan contains sensitive information and drawings regarding the location of oil and other chemical storage facilities associated with the Niagara Power Project. Therefore, for security reasons it is not available to the general public for review, but it is reviewed periodically by regulatory agencies.
The headings below group chemical products used on site by general category, and where relevant, describe specific products currently in stock. NYPA utilizes products that are specified by the original equipment manufacturer, and/or represent best utility industry practice. These substances are predominately used and stored within the confines of the Niagara Power Project.
The rotating turbines at the Robert Moses Niagara Power Project (RMNPP) and the Lewiston Pump Generation Plant (LPGP) are lubricated with products generically referred to as “turbine oil”. The product currently in use is Texas Regal R&0 68 (petroleum distillate). Both RMNPP and LPGP have large storage tanks for turbine lubricating oil and associated piping to transfer the oil to various locations within each plant. The tanks are located in special rooms for oil storage and handling, and these incorporate structures that are specifically designed to contain the largest potential spill. In addition to the large-scale storage tanks, 2 to 3, 55-gallon drums of turbine oil are stored in the oil-handling room for “topping off” and filling new equipment prior to installation.
Oil absorbent materials are maintained on-hand to prevent drips and to capture minor accidental spills. All the tanks involved with the storage of petroleum products have been constructed and registered as required by the State and Federal petroleum bulk storage regulations.
Five or six drums of various additional lubricants are routinely stored in the oil-handling room. These greases and oils are used to lubricate bearings and fittings in rotating and moving equipment, and range from a light oil similar to WD-40 that is used to lubricate hinges on cabinets to Lubriplate No. 1200-2, a white bearing grease that is used to maintain the moving parts of the service water intake screens. As with the turbine oil noted above, lubricating oils and greases are stored in such a way as to minimize the potential for spills and accidental releases to the environment.
The motor vehicle maintenance shop also maintains a supply of engine lubricating oil for use in the Authority’s fleet of maintenance vehicles.
The RMNPP and LPGP each maintain large transformers and other electrical equipment that require transformer oils and dielectric fluid to operate safely and reliably. Like many other utilities, NYPA is currently using Univolt 60 (light naphenic distillate) transformer oil and uses Sun 6 Insul N-blanketed (heavy naphenic distillate) as a dielectric fluid. Both RMNPP and LPGP maintain inventories of these substances in large storage tanks; a system of associated piping is used to transfer the oil to various locations. These tanks are located in the oil-handling room, which has been designed to ensure that the material is stored safely and without release to the environment.
All new transformer oil and dielectric fluid is specified to be free of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs. All of NYPA’s older transformers were retrofilled in the early 1980s in order to reduce the level of PCB’s within the transformers below 50 ppm, the level at which they are considered “non-PCB” pursuant to New York’s federally-approved hazardous waste regulations. All of the transformers containing oil at RMNPP and LPGP are properly labeled to reflect their PCB status, again, in full compliance with State and Federal regulations. Finally, all electrical equipment containing oil is sampled for PCB’s prior to disposal, and the discarded oil is incinerated at an NYPA-audited and approved facility that is licensed to incinerate oil by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA).
The Authority uses solvents in a manner similar to other industries that maintain industrial machinery – primarily to clean parts for maintenance, repair and reassembly. Three to four drums of cleaning solvents are stored in the oil-handling room for use in degreasing and parts-washers, which are located in safe locations throughout the maintenance areas of the RMNPP and the LPGP. The most common product currently in use is Voltz (petroleum distillates). Spent solvents are disposed of at an Authority-audited and approved facility that is licensed to incinerate such compounds by the USEPA.
NYPA operates a fleet of maintenance and passenger vehicles at the Niagara Power Project. There are two underground storage tanks at the RMNPP-- one for gasoline and one for diesel fuel. Both tanks are of double wall steel construction with Fiberglass cladding designed to meet the current petroleum bulk storage regulations. The inventory control equipment associated with these tanks is a state-of-the-art, automated system with a leak detection system that is connected to the General Maintenance Building and Control Room.
Paints are stored in the RMNPP and LPGP oil-handling rooms and in the General Maintenance warehouse. Paints are applied in accordance with original equipment and supplier specifications. Paint wastes, when they are generated, are disposed of in accordance with State and Federal regulations at a NYPA-audited and approved facility.
NYPA, like other industrial facilities, maintains an inventory of cleaning products such as floor cleaners, glass cleaners, scouring powders, hand soaps and similar products. These products are stored in the General Maintenance Warehouse and in various janitorial closets throughout the facility. All NYPA uniforms and wiping rags are laundered off-site on a contract basis.
Refrigerants are utilized in chillers, air conditioners and other refrigeration equipment throughout the site. The cylinders containing replenishment supplies of refrigerants are stored in several locations throughout the facility. Only certified technicians handle these materials, as required by USEPA regulations governing their use.
Chlorine (in the form of dry calcium hypochlorite tablets) is stored at the LPGP in five gallon pails. This chlorine product is used for zebra mussel control and for cooling tower maintenance. A chlorination system allows the tablets to go into solution which is then added to the service water. Concentrations are controlled by an analyzer to achieve the desired ppm. SPDES and pesticide permits regulate chlorine discharge.
Pesticides are used for structural maintenance, rodent control, and weed control at the Project. Herbicides are applied on an as-needed basis on Project lands in areas where mowing is not possible or effective. These areas include fence lines, around building foundations, and around energy transmission-related structures (e.g., around and within the switchyard). Vegetation in these areas is maintained so as to not interfere with Project structures and for security, visibility, and monitoring purposes.
The rip-rap lined interior side of the Lewiston Reservoir Dike is maintained by an annual application of ARSENAL an EPA Registered and NYSDEC-approved herbicide formulation to control weed and woody plant growth. This is applied according to label directions only on areas above the high water line when the weather is warm and dry. This methodology is based on DEC approved methods for herbicide use around water bodies. Any plants that are not removed by this application of herbicide are removed by hand.
Mowing is the primary means of controlling vegetation on right-of-ways (ROWs) in the Project area. Where mowing is infeasible, herbicides are applied as-needed on electric transmission ROW on Project lands. Herbicide application on electric transmission ROWs is governed by an Integrated Vegetation Management (IVM) strategy. The IVM approach is an existing protection and enhancement measure utilized by the members of the Environmental Energy Alliance of New York (EEANY), which includes NYPA, NMPC, and NYSEG. All three of these entities are signatories to an IVM position paper describing the application of this strategy to utility ROW vegetation management. This approach, modeled on the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) process, utilizes cultural (mechanical and manual methods that physically remove tree stems), biological (encouraging low growing plant species and herbivory), and chemical (herbicides) controls. Under this approach, herbicides use is minimized, and herbicides are used only to treat individual tree stems or groups of target trees. No aerial or indiscriminate ground broadcast applications are used.
Application of herbicide on Project lands is done by NYPA personnel and contractors that are registered pesticide applicators licensed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) Division of Solid & Hazardous Materials, pursuant 6 NYCRR Part 325. Continuing education is required in order for NYPA staff to maintain their pesticide applicator certification, and these staff personnel take training courses annually.
NYPA utilizes DEC registered and EPA registered herbicides which are primarily various formulations of the herbicide glyphosate. Herbicides are applied using backpack, hand pressurized, non-motorized equipment. All pressures are kept as low as operationally possible to prevent overspray onto non-target species and locations. Herbicide applications around water follow DEC approved methods and use products registered by DEC for use in wetland areas, but not in direct contact with standing water.
NYPA maintains files of pesticide use on Project land as required by State law. NYPA also files annual reports with the DEC Bureau of Pesticide Management regarding the type and quantity of pesticides applied by NYPA during the previous year.
As with many facilities built during the 1950s and 1960s, asbestos is present throughout the entire project in some floor tiles, wiring, piping insulation, and roofing materials. Over the past two decades, NYPA has identified and labeled the components within the plant that contain asbestos. Much of the asbestos previously present in the plant has been removed. This removal was accomplished in full compliance with federal and state regulations. Remaining asbestos-containing materials are removed on an as-needed basis to facilitate repairs and maintenance by specially trained NYPA or contract personnel. Any asbestos-containing materials removed are disposed of in accordance with State and Federal regulations at facilities licensed to receive such materials.
The Niagara Project is a hydropower generation facility. It does not use, store, or generate any radioactive materials, nor have there ever been any radioactive materials used, stored, generated or buried on project lands.
Training required by regulation is provided to all appropriate personnel. Typical training includes spill response training, routine first-aid, and industry-specific safety training, and annual hazardous waste training.
As part of it preparation for the relicensing of the Niagara Power Project, NYPA has conducted numerous studies related to the ecological, engineering, recreational, cultural and socioeconomic aspects of the Project. Four of the studies, all related to the Lewiston Reservoir, were designated as potentially yielding valuable information relative to toxic substances or contaminants that might have adverse health effects. The four studies, Tetra Tech 2005, URS et al. 2003, ESI 2005, and Louis Berger 2005, were conducted in 2002-2004. A summary of the study results is presented below.
Methylmercury is the form of mercury that is bioavailable, and the formation of methylmercury is called methylation. Data exist for several sites in North America and Europe that show an increase in the concentration of mercury in fish due to reservoir creation. The increase in the concentration of mercury in fish in reservoirs is time dependent, first rising after reservoir creation and then declining over time. The magnitude and duration of the observed increase appear to depend on fish species and local conditions. Typically, the concentrations of mercury in fish have been reported to increase and then return to background concentrations within 10-30 years.
Drawdown has been discussed in the literature as a possible mechanism to influence the concentration of mercury in fish, both positively and negatively, when considering older reservoirs. Most of the literature involves reservoirs that are drawn down only once or twice per year. In addition to drawdown, other factors that are thought to effect the formation of methylmercury include: hydraulic residence time, temperature, presence of organic matter, pH, and shifts from oxygenated conditions to deoxygenated (or anoxic) conditions in the water.
These factors relating to methylmercury formation have been evaluated with respect to the unique characteristics of Lewiston Reservoir. The weekly drawdown of the reservoir, represents an exchange of up to 93% of the water volume withdrawn from the forebay . The short residence time of water in the reservoir plays a critical role in mitigating the formation of methylmercury. Many of the processes that regulate the formation and accumulation of methylmercury are kinetic, or time-dependent, processes. The shorter the residence time of a water body, the less impact in-situ methylation is able to have on the mercury characteristics of that water. Since the residence time of water within the Lewiston Reservoir is so short, many of these processes do not have time to take place. This applies to both chemical and physical processes.
One of the factors considered that might lead to enhanced methylation was the possibility that water temperature would be elevated in the drawn down reservoir, thus accelerating microbial activity and methylation. However, data indicate that the water temperatures are controlled by inputs from the Niagara River and that water stays in the reservoir such a short time that it does not have the opportunity to warm to any significant degree and therefore methylation is not enhanced.
A supply of organic matter is a pre-requisite for enhanced activity and methylation. The majority of the drawdown zone in the Lewiston Reservoir is made up of riprap shorelines that are exposed during the week due to progressively lower water levels. Part of the bottom of the Lewiston Reservoir is often exposed at the end of the week for a short period of time. The riprap shorelines have very low organic matter content. Only the reservoir bottom has the potential to supply organic material, and sampling has shown that these sediments have a low organic content. There is no evidence to indicate that there is a significant supply of organic carbon to the riprap sediments that is being used to fuel microbial action that could support enhanced methylation.
Methylation is known to be enhanced in low-pH waters. The surface water pH in the reservoir is near 8, a relatively high value that would not foster methylation.
The available data also suggest that the dissolved oxygen concentration in the reservoir water is relatively high both at the surface and at depth. Methylation occurs in low-oxygen environments, and thus water column methylation is unlikely in Lewiston Reservoir. Sediment methylation is still possible since low oxygen conditions are undoubtedly present in the deeper sediments.
There are some characteristics of Lewiston Reservoir that suggest it may be susceptible to enhanced methylation and/or accumulation of bioavailable mercury. Methylmercury is formed in zones where water shifts from oxygenated conditions to deoxygenated conditions due to physical impediments to the movement of oxygen and/or biological activity. Drawdown has the potential to create transitional oxic/anoxic zones within the reservoir that favor the formation of bioavailable mercury. This may occur in portions of the reservoir where bottom sediments are often exposed. Methylation in these transitional oxic/anoxic zones can be related to changes in microbial activity or changing speciation of sulfur, which simulates methylation. There are no data to suggest that this is indeed happening in Lewiston Reservoir sediments. Finally, the presence of periodically flooded soils in the drawdown zone creates the potential for mercury migration along with reduced iron. This may occur in the surface layers of the material forming the dikes, although this potential is very small.
Based on observed physical and chemical characteristics, it seems unlikely that drawdown would be a significant factor in enhancing the bioaccumulation of mercury by fish in Lewiston Reservoir. Aqueous sampling in the reservoir indicated that most samples had concentrations below detection levels, and that the one sample with detectable methylmercury had a very low concentration. This data tends to support the conclusion that Lewiston Reservoir is not a site of enhanced methylation. Nonetheless, fish throughout the Niagara River corridor and, indeed, throughout New York may have elevated levels of mercury due to the widespread nature of this metal. Therefore, any fish advisory that applies to the upper Niagara River should logically also apply to fish from Lewiston Reservoir.
In order to document the extent of sedimentation (including depth and location) in the Lewiston Reservoir and forebay and to assess the physical/chemical quality of sediment in these two water bodies, a sediment quality investigation was conducted. The investigation program called for the collection of five samples from the Lewiston Reservoir and two samples from the forebay. The program also called for the collection of two sediment samples from the upper Niagara River and two sediment samples from the lower Niagara River. The data from these samples provided additional information that was used to assess potential impacts to sediment quality from upstream sources and to compare sediment quality results obtained from the Lewiston Reservoir and forebay to the upstream and downstream samples collected.
Sediment samples were analyzed at approved laboratories for multiple constituents, including 18 priority toxic pollutants identified in the Niagara River Toxics Management Plan (NRTMP) and five additional parameters of interest to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The NRTMP priority toxics were selected based on their history of exceeding water, fish, or sediment criteria values in the Niagara River or Lake Ontario.
Typically, fine-grained sediments were encountered in the Lewiston Reservoir at the locations of predicted sediment accumulations. These sediments had significantly higher organic carbon content than the coarser-grained sediments encountered in the Niagara River. The fine-grained sediment encountered in the Lewiston Reservoir was targeted in the study because their physical and chemical characteristics are more likely to contain chemical constituents thus providing a “worst case scenario”. The sediment obtained from the forebay was very coarse-grained (sand, gravel, and cobbles) and was very limited in volume. Consequently, forebay sediments were not assessed as to their chemical or physical quality.
In general, the constituents detected in the Lewiston Reservoir sediments (polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), mirex, arsenic, lead, and mercury) were also detected in the Niagara River sediments. The sample collected in the lower Niagara River upstream of the tailrace was impacted by the highest number of constituents which in turn were generally at the highest chemical concentrations. The reservoir samples had constituent detections of PAHs, PCBs, and various metals. The detected constituent levels in the Lewiston Reservoir samples were similar to, and in some instances considerably less than, the levels detected in the Niagara River sediments. In fact the sample collected in the lower Niagara River upstream of the tailrace was impacted by the highest number of constituents at generally higher concentrations than in the Lewiston Reservoir samples. With the exception of one PCB Aroclor (Aroclor 1242), there were no constituents detected in the Lewiston Reservoir that were not detected in the upper Niagara River and/or the lower Niagara River, upstream of the tailrace.
The sediment quality comparison that was made using historical data revealed that the constituents detected in the Lewiston Reservoir were commonly detected during prior studies of sediments in the upper Niagara River at Lake Erie (near Buffalo Harbor), the upper Niagara River in the Tonawanda Channel (the eastern side of Grand Island) and the upper Niagara River near Bird Island (which splits the Black Rock canal and upper Niagara River.) The constituent levels in the Lewiston Reservoir were similar, and oftentimes significantly lower, that the levels in the upper Niagara River at Lake Erie, the upper Niagara River in the Tonawanda Channel, and the Upper Niagara River near Bird Island.
There were several exceedances of NYSDEC sediment criteria and probable effect concentration (PEC) and threshold effect concentration (TEC) assessment values in the samples collected in the Lewiston Reservoir. As with the detections discussed above, however, any exceedance of a constituent in the Lewiston Reservoir was also exceeded in the upper Niagara River and/or the lower Niagara River, upstream of the tailrace.
Arsenic, lead mercury, PAHs, Mirex, and PCBs were present in Lewiston Reservoir sediments above NYSEC sediment screening criteria. Environmental fate processes such as dilution, volatilization, biodegradation, adsorption, and chemical reactions with sediment-bound materials often reduce chemical concentration in sediments; however, benthic microfauna or invertebrates may transform chemicals in sediments into more toxic compounds under certain environmental conditions. Because natural partitioning processes in Lewiston Reservoir sediments are assumed to have taken place, the presence of the aforementioned chemicals in bed sediments indicates that these chemicals will remain there. In addition, designated sampling areas are depositional in nature and probably serve as sinks for chemicals introduced into the reservoir.
Based on pH and sediment organic carbon levels in the reservoir, lead and mercury in sediment are not expected to partition to the overlying water column. Arsenic compounds vary in terms of their solubilities, however, and the presence of clays in the benthic substrate of the reservoir suggest that leaching of arsenic to surface water or groundwater from sediments is unlikely. PAHs and PCBs detected in sediments are also likely to remain there, owing to their extremely low solubilities in water and their strong tendency to sorb to organic carbon in bed sediments. Sediment-bound PAHs and PCBs, if resuspended to the overlying water column, will in all likelihood adhere to suspended particulate matter rather than be redissolved in water. Mirex, an organochlorine pesticide detected in one reservoir sediment sample, adsorbs strongly to sediment particles and has a low solubility in water. As such, residual mirex in sediments should not redissolve to surface water or groundwater.
In the summer of 2002, a study was initiated to determine the potential Project effects, if any, on local groundwater flow patterns. The investigation area for the study is bounded to the North by the Niagara escarpment, to the east by the Tuscarora Nation eastern boundary/Cayuga Creek, to the south by the upper Niagara River, and to the west by the lower Niagara River. The initial study analyzed data from already established water level monitoring points including staff gauges in the Niagara River, wells on the lands of the Tuscarora Nation, wells owned by NYPA or belonging to government agencies, and from privately owned industrial wells. This study was supplemented in 2003-2004 with additional field investigations including the installation of 91 nested piezometers at 17 groundwater sampling locations, groundwater level monitoring, flow monitoring and surface water and groundwater quality sampling. In addition, groundwater modeling activities including: conversion of the existing USGS model from MODFLOW computer code to Groundwater Modeling System (GMS) environment, verification of accurate model conversion through the comparison of flow budgets and predicted hydraulic heads for the two model formats, preliminary modeling, and focused groundwater modeling in the vicinity of the Lewiston Reservoir were undertaken.
The objectives of the study were to:
· Determine the interaction between conduit transported river water, flow at conduit weir(s), flow within the conduit external drainage system, infiltration of groundwater and/or surface water into the Falls Street Tunnel (FST), and infiltration of groundwater into the forebay;
· Document existing information on groundwater hydraulic influence;
· Determine the effects of project features and operations on Tuscarora Nation, the Town of Lewiston and other surrounding communities in terms of groundwater flow and water quality (chemical and biological);
· Use existing information to determine the effect of river water fluctuation on groundwater flow patterns along the Niagara River;
· Assess the impact on water quality and flow of surface waters receiving groundwater due to Project Operations.
The results of the field investigations and the modeling indicate that while the initial filling of the reservoir caused area groundwater levels to rise from 0 to 10 feet (based on modeling) and up to 17 feet (observed in a NYPA observation well in the southwest dike area), reservoir operations minimally affect area groundwater level fluctuations. It is likely that the reservoir serves to augment creek flows (downstream of Garlow Road year round, and possibly further east during wet months) due to reservoir influenced groundwater discharge flow.
Based on groundwater flow modeling results, the eastward extent (toward the Tuscarora Lands) of reservoir influenced groundwater flow in the upper weathered bedrock zone is limited to approximately 1,500 feet. A naturally occurring groundwater flow divide exists between the Niagara Escarpment and the Reservoir. Because of this flow divide, groundwater seeps observed in the escarpment, are not influenced by project operations.
Forebay water level fluctuations influence groundwater flow rates, and it is likely that groundwater contaminants found in existing plumes are drawn toward the conduits. Forebay fluctuations directly affect groundwater levels along the conduits by as much as 7 feet. Groundwater in the vicinity of the conduits is drawn into the conduit drainage system (CDS). Seventy-five to eighty-five percent (75% to 85%) of Falls Street Tunnel (FST) groundwater infiltration (5.4 mgd to 6.1 mgd) in the vicinity of the conduits could be attributed to the presence of the conduits. Project operations directly impact groundwater infiltration rates (higher forebay levels cause increased infiltration rate and vice versa).
Groundwater in the vicinity of the conduits contains relatively high concentrations of chemical contaminants, mainly chlorinated and non-chlorinated volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are associated with hazardous waste sites that are not associated with the Niagara Power Project. Groundwater from the southern conduit area is drawn toward the conduits and FST, and water so drawn can, and does, seep into the FST (in some cases following temporary capture by the CDS) The CDS terminates at Pump Station B, where flow from the CDS into the conduits (and ultimately to the forebay) was estimated at approximately 7,000 gpm or 10 mgd. The presence of the conduits/CDS significantly increases the amount of groundwater infiltration into the FST. Operationally induced forebay level changes directly impact the rate of this groundwater infiltration. Contaminants detected in the vicinity of the conduits were not, however, detected in forebay water samples. The predominant contaminants identified on the Tuscarora Lands are gasoline related VOCs such as BTEX and MTBE. The presence of gasoline related contamination detected on Tuscarora lands is likely associated with local fuel service stations and is not associated with the CDS.
Groundwater quality of shallow groundwater (most influenced by reservoir recharge) was relatively clean when compared with the deeper zones. Reservoir water was relatively contaminant free (only trace levels of delta-BHC and monomethyl mercury were detected). Reservoir influenced groundwater flow likely acts to provide relatively clean water in the shallow water-bearing zones.
Some additional compounds detected in groundwater were detected in reservoir sediment samples (arsenic, lead), and some of these compounds (such as lead and monomethyl mercury) were detected in groundwater and surface water samples collected from areas influenced by reservoir flow as well as areas outside of this inferred influence. Carbon disulfide, detected in both surface water and groundwater samples collected from within the reservoir influence, is a primary contaminant at the Stauffer Chemical site located immediately north of the forebay.
Some possible sources of these contaminants include unknown point sources, naturally occurring presence of metals in the ecosystem, regional atmospheric deposition, or reservoir sediments.
Chemical or contaminant residues in fish are a function of chemical concentrations in the water and sediment in which they live, and the prey they ingest. Fish take up chemicals in the water column via respiration through the gills and dermal contact. Chemicals in prey items are absorbed through the digestive tract. Chemicals in sediment can be ingested incidentally while the fish is preying on benthic invertebrates such as insect larvae. Particulates, such as suspended sediment in the water column, can also be ingested. Sediment and water column phases and any contaminants therein, are interconnected in an ecosystem through fate and transport processes such as hydrodynamics, diffusion, particle deposition, and resuspension.
The most significant potential source of contaminants in the Lewiston Reservoir water column is Niagara River water that is pumped into the reservoir. Resuspension of sediment is likely limited to recent unconsolidated particulate matter that has settled to the reservoir floor, but has not become part of the permanent sediment column. Scour of older sediments from the reservoir floor appears to be very minor. In addition, dissolved contaminants leached from bottom sediments into the water column are expected to be an insignificant source due to the high exchange rate of water in the reservoir. Therefore, it appears that the potential exposure of fish to contaminants in the Lewiston Reservoir is generally similar to the exposure of fish to contaminants in areas of the upper Niagara River and its tributaries with lower flow velocity and fine-grained sediment.
Contaminant levels in fish living in the reservoir were indirectly evaluated using water quality and sediment data collected from the Niagara River and the Lewiston Reservoir, probable exposure pathways, existing fish tissue data for the Niagara River, and the life histories of the fish that occur in the reservoir. Tissue analyses from fish in the Niagara River detected mercury and organic compounds. Based on the comparable contaminant levels in the water and in the fine-grained sediment of the reservoir and river, contaminant levels of Lewiston Reservoir fish are expected to be similar to the range of levels exhibited in fish living in fine-grained sediment areas of the upper Niagara River. Exposure pathways for fish in the Lewiston Reservoir and the Niagara River are also similar in regard to water, sediment, and prey items. Additionally, fish in the reservoir may not be permanent, or even long-term, residents of the reservoir and likely will move in and out of the reservoir during pumping and generating cycles.
There are no tissue data available for fish collected in the reservoir. However, based on an evaluation of the available fish tissue data from the river, it is expected that carp, which is a bottom-feeding omnivore, would contain the highest relative concentration of polychlorinated biphenyls and certain pesticides when compared to other fish species. Species such as yellow perch, rock bass, and smallmouth bass are expected to contain lower levels than carp, based on existing river fish tissue data.
Because water and sediment in the Lewiston Reservoir originates in the upper Niagara River, contaminant levels in fish living in the reservoir are expected to be similar to fish in the Upper Niagara River, and the current health advisory provided by the New York State Department of Health for consumption of carp caught in the upper Niagara River should also be observed for carp caught from the Lewiston Reservoir. In addition, any future advisories that may be developed for the river by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and the New York State Department of Health should be considered applicable to Lewiston Reservoir fish.
For the purposes of investigation into this issue, several references were sought and reviewed. Items reviewed included, but were not limited to:
· Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Critical Energy Infrastructure Information (CEII) rules and associated documents,
· the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA),
· the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Chapter 18,
· the FERC Security Program for Hydropower Projects (Rev 1) and associated documents,
· the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Federal Guidelines for Dam Safety,
· various news releases and meeting minutes,
· the Niagara County Annual Budget reports (2002 through 2004),
· the Niagara Power Project’s Emergency Action Plan (EAP),
· personal communication with a New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) expert, and
· websites of FERC, FEMA, NYISO, New York Power Authority (NYPA), Niagara University, New York Emergency Management Office, several local/State/City/Town entities, and many others.
Part 12 safety inspection reports, some portions of the EAP, and security assessment results are not publicly available for security reasons.
Since September 11, 2001, our entire nation has been committed to an increased level of vigilance regarding terrorist attacks. Many types of infrastructure are considered to be prone to an elevated risk of attack due to their potential to cause economic dislocation, death and/or destruction if targeted. Hydropower facilities are one such type of structure.
The risk imposed on the area surrounding a hydropower facility has to do with the results of an attack on the dam or related facilities. The catastrophic failure of a dam can cause flooding, with associated death and/or property damage. Also, attack on a dam or associated substation may render a facility unable to produce and/or deliver power.
The degree of risk associated with the Niagara Power Project, although it has been carefully assessed, is not public information. Based on its determined position in the spectrum of risk, NYPA has responded with appropriate measures to counteract any risk that may be associated with this facility.
A discussion of the actions taken by NYPA to assess the threat of terrorism at the Niagara Power Project, as well as the licensee’s actions to counteract the determined degree of threat, are discussed below.
Critical Energy Infrastructure Information (CEII) Rules
In response to the events of September 11, 2001, FERC imposed new restrictions on the public availability of FERC materials that contain Critical Energy Infrastructure Information (CEII). A general definition of CEII and associated rules, as well as the FERC statements and orders pertinent to its evolution, are available on the FERC website.
The specific provisions of the CEII rules are outlined in 18 CFR, §§388.112 and 113. FERC documents regarding this issue include Docket No. PL02-1-000, and Order numbers 630 (issued Feb 21, 2003), 630-A (issued July 23, 2003), and 649 (August 3, 2004) a final rule amending its regulations governing the protection of, and access to, critical infrastructure information.
One of the consequences of these regulations is that public access to documents containing project plans, maps, and other sensitive information via the internet has been significantly restricted. Even though not classified as CEII, “non-internet public information,” a category that includes a wide array of photographs, maps, and other material, is no longer made available by FERC in a web-based format.
FERC Security Program for Hydropower Projects (FERC 2002)
Subsequent to September 11, 2001, in order to counteract nationally recognized potential terrorist threats to hydropower facilities, FERC initiated the Security Program for Hydropower Projects.
The following summary of the “FERC Security Program for Hydropower Projects” (henceforward referred to as “Security Program”) was adapted from Revision 1 (11/15/2002) of the FERC Security Program for Hydropower Projects and associated letters issued by FERC (FERC various dates). All may be accessed via the official FERC website (FERC 2002).
The Security Program is specifically designed to assess the security and vulnerability of hydropower operations nationwide. It also provides for the improvement of security where needed.
The Security Program was developed and is monitored by a “Security Working Group” comprised of approximately 23 members. Two of these task force members are New York Power Authority representatives.
For all facilities, security evaluations were made part of all regularly scheduled FERC Operation Inspections. FERC has also created response action guidelines for all facilities to adhere to in association with the current Threat Condition status issued by the National Threat Warning System. An example of Niagara Power Authority’s compliance with these guidelines is the closure of public facilities (such as fishing piers and the Power Vista Visitor’s Center) during times of elevated national alert.
Soon after September 11, 2001, FERC identified (from among all federally regulated hydropower facilities) those facilities that were placed at high risk or “significant hazard potential” by the possibility of such activities as terrorism or sabotage. These significant or high hazard dams were then categorized into 3 “Security Groups” (each, henceforward, “Group”), based on degree of vulnerability or risk, with Group 1 being of priority concern. It should be noted that these designations are under continuous analysis, and they can be upgraded or downgraded as appropriate.
FERC, in concert with licensees/exemptees, then commenced to fulfill the requirement of performing “Security Assessments” at all Group 1 and 2 dams and “Vulnerability Assessments” at all Group 1 dams. Security Assessments aim to evaluate “the current state and appropriateness of the on-site security system”, and they also identify what security enhancements are needed. Vulnerability Assessments have 4 major objectives: to identify “weak points” at a facility; to assess potential threats (this assessment may consider information such as past security incidents and/or information received from the FBI); to address the consequences of an attack; and to “address the effectiveness of the security system to counter such an attack”.
The licensees/exemptees are responsible (among many other responsibilities) for making security upgrades as identified by their respective assessments and for making sure that their security measures are in agreement with their license requirements as well as associated documents (such as EAPs). Group 1 and 2 dams are subject to inspections “with a high level of scrutiny by the FERC Dam Safety staff”. In addition, Group 1 and 2 dams were required (and Group 3 dams encouraged) to produce a written Security Plan by fall of 2003. Group 1 dams were also required to produce written vulnerability assessments by the same date.
The Group designation of facilities, the findings of various assessments, and resultant reports are absolutely non-public. The Security and Vulnerability Assessments are recorded by hand, and all discussions are made in person or via telephone. Email computer documents are either not created or are immediately destroyed. No information regarding security issues is posted by FERC. Public access to any associated sensitive information is strictly and categorically denied. This protection of sensitive information is supported by the post 9/11 implementation of the FERC CEII rules.
For the reasons stated above, no specific security/vulnerability information regarding the status of NYPA-owned dams can be released to the public. However, NYPA assures that it is in constant compliance with all requirements of the FERC Security Program for Hydropower Projects, and has addressed all appropriate concerns. NYPA also assures that the following actions have been implemented:
· NYPA, in cooperation with the FERC, using all available information and evidence, has evaluated the risk potential of the Niagara Power Project. As a result, FERC has assigned the project a Group status or refrained from doing so, as appropriate.
· The Niagara Power Project has been evaluated in regard to security issues, necessary security enhancements have been identified, and security upgrades have been made.
· According to the minutes of the November 2002 meeting of the Westchester , N.Y. Chapter of the American Society for Industrial Security, NYPA has spent over $5 million on extra staff, equipment, and barriers for the purposes of enhanced security since 9/11.
· The Niagara Power Project is being scrutinized on a periodic basis (to the appropriate degree) for security issues by both the licensee and by FERC inspectors.
· The Group status (if one was assigned) of the facility is subject to change if the risk imposed on the facility changes. If status changes, the facility will be subject to the appropriate security requirements imposed by its status.
· NYPA has two employees serving as active board members on the FERC Security Working Group and therefore is actively involved in assuring that utmost security is achieved at all of NYPA’s facilities as well as other hydropower facilities nationwide.
If an attack were ever to occur on the Niagara Power Project that was successful in causing project failure, the Emergency Action Plan (EAP) would govern the response. The EAP is designed to minimize resultant impacts to the surrounding community in the event of project failure.
Very little specific information was found that elucidates the costs imposed on local security-related services as a result of the Project. There is little news coverage that describes actions taken and costs incurred specific to the Project, and the websites of pertinent entities do not offer any such information.
Federal funds for increased security have been awarded to entities in the vicinity of the Project location. In 2003, Erie County and the City of Buffalo included Niagara County as a partner in the National Strategy for Homeland Security/Urban Areas Security Initiative that was awarded to the former entities by the federal government. Several newspaper articles (Prohaska, 2004; Buffalo News, March 25, 2004; Watson 2004; Jones 2004; Herbeck 2004, and Spina 2004) have reported that federal and state governments have awarded millions of dollars to Erie and Niagara Counties for homeland security needs. The money is intended for a variety of security related items including: communications equipment, hazardous waste materials such as masks and suits for first responders, surveillance equipment, police officer training, upgraded mobile computers, etc. Prohaska (2004) reported that parties in charge of delegating the funds have stated that they must “assess where the county is most vulnerable and send money to those points”. Another article (Spina 2004), noted that Buffalo “…ranked among the 30 high-threat urban areas…”. The same article states, “The Buffalo area’s ‘Homeland Security Strategy’ shared with the state and federal governments notes the Yemeni ‘sleeper cell’ discovered here in 2002, the nation’s fifth largest Middle Eastern population, the region’s busy border crossings, its pipelines, chemical and petroleum storage facilities, its shipping lanes, military bases and sporting and cultural events.” Hydropower facility security was not mentioned.
In summary, funding for homeland security issues has been made available to local security-related services in the area of the Niagara Power Project. This funding is in response to a ubiquitous threat imposed on the entire nation and may be partially in response to local threats. The funding does not define a specific source of risk within the community. The Niagara Power Project, although it may contribute to an overall cumulative threat to surrounding communities, cannot be cited as a sole source of risk.
A 2003 issue of the Candidate View, a publication of the Niagara County Legislature, summarizes the response of several legislative candidates to a question regarding homeland security. Although power/nuclear/chemical/hydropower plants, tourist destinations, the airport, and a “military venue” were each indicated by at least one candidate as a security concern, the overwhelming majority of responses cited the county’s international border crossings as a primary security concern.
It appears that security-related services have applied funding in ways that are consistent with increased threats nationwide. There is no evidence that extra attention has been given to counteracting risk associated with the Project, or other hydropower facilities. When funding has been provided, it has been applied for general homeland security training/equipment/services, etc. This positions local entities to deal with a terrorist action in their community regardless of the target.
Based on these observations, the cost of providing local security-related services as a result of the Project appear to be minimal. Rather, expenditures appear to encompass a collective local and national response to the threat. NYPA has absorbed the costs of securing and protecting the Niagara Power Project in order to minimize its contribution to the cumulative threat within the surrounding community. Even if the Project were non-existent, the local security-related services would need to address homeland security as they have thus far, and will continue to do, due to the nationwide threat.
The purpose of the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) is to operate the New York electric system in a safe an reliable manner. As part of its responsibility, the NYISO must anticipate unforeseen emergency power needs and maintain reserve power supplies and generating capabilities for augmentation when normal generation is compromised.
The NYISO maintains an “Operating Reserve” of about 1.5 times the generating ability of the largest generator operating within the state at all times. This Operating Reserve is available to be called upon at any time when a sudden disturbance occurs on the electric system, such as an unplanned power plant outage.
The NYISO operating criteria are designed to have the bulk electric system run reliably under virtually all conditions. Given this, if a disabling event were to occur at a major power plant such as the Niagara Power Project, the NYISO would call upon its Operating Reserves to replace the Project’s generating capacity within 10 minutes of shutdown. It would accomplish this by calling upon generation held in reserve including fast start facilities with available generating capacity to begin immediate operation. These immediate response facilities are generally the most flexible (and most expensive) plants. Once the initially failed power facility is lost, the NYISO will re-dispatch units to meet load. These units are dispatched based upon the then-available, least-cost mix of generation in the system.
In addition, New York reliability rules require that sufficient generating capacity (Installed Reserve Margin, or IRM), be available in reserve at all times such that an average customer will have outages due to a shortage of generation no more often than once in ten years. This reserve generating capacity is determined to be approximately 18% more than the generation that is required to meet peak load. The percent reserved is based on the standards and criteria of the North American Reliability Council (NERC) and the New York State Reliability Council (NYSRC).
There are some general safety issues inherent in hydro project structures and operations. In 1992, FERC’s Division of Dam Safety Inspections issued “ Guidelines for Public safety at Hydropower Projects” (FERC 1992). This document outlines potential hazards, as well as safety devices and measures associated with hydro projects.
The areas adjacent to, and downstream from, the Niagara Power Project may be subject to a compromise in safety in the event of dam (or other project facility) failure that could result in flooding.
In order to insure that facility structures are maintained to achieve utmost safety and structural integrity, periodic safety inspections are performed. For this reason, it is highly unlikely that project failure would occur without the influence of a catastrophic event. It should be noted that no such events have occurred since the Niagara Power Project was originally constructed.
Because of its size, location, and nature, a failure of project facilities at the Niagara Power Project could cause damage, and possibly loss of life, due to flooding. To minimize the impacts incurred by the surrounding community in the event of dam (or other facility) failure, the licensee maintains an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) for this facility.
The Niagara Power Project is subject to periodic scheduled safety inspections, performed every year by a FERC inspector, for the purpose of “achieving or protecting the safety, stability and integrity of the project works…” [18 CFR 12.4(b)(i)] and “otherwise protecting life, health, or property” [18 CFR 12.4(b)(ii)]. The provisions of these inspections are laid out in 18 CFR, Part 12, Subpart A.
In addition to the annual general safety inspection performed by FERC, the Niagara Power Project is required to undergo more stringent safety inspections every 5 years.
Chapter 18, Part 12, Subpart D of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) lays out the requirements of periodic facility safety inspections and reports for hydropower facilities. For full details, refer to the CFR. The April 1, 2003 revision of the CFR (which is unchanged in 2004) was referenced for purposes of this discussion.
Part 12 safety inspections must be performed for the licensee by an independent consultant. Prior to an inspection, the individuals who will be performing the inspection must be approved by the FERC.
Safety inspections take into account a vast amount of data as well as results of physical field inspections to assess the condition of physical/structural features of the subject facility. If any compromise of integrity (or potentially developing compromise) is discovered, it must be identified in the report. In following up, appropriate corrective actions must be taken.
NYPA is in compliance with its CFR Part 12 requirements. The “Eighth Consultant’s Safety Inspection Report for the Niagara Power Project” (most recent) was submitted to the FERC in November, 2003. FERC acknowledged receipt of this report in a letter dated December 29, 2003. This letter lists the recommendations made in the report as a result of safety inspections. This letter is publicly available and can be accessed via the FERC website. As required, NYPA submitted its plan to implement the recommendations made by the inspection report on February 1, 2004. Submittal of this plan is cataloged on the FERC website.
The actual safety inspection results and report are classified as non-public under FERC CEII rules, and are therefore not available for review. However, based on the above information, the following statements can be made:
· The Niagara Power Project is in compliance with FERC safety inspection requirements as described in CFR Chapter 18, Part 12, Subpart D.
· As part of these inspections, NYPA has carefully evaluated a wide spectrum of safety related issues as they pertain to the Niagara Power Project.
· Any existing or potentially developing compromise in safety that has been identified at the Niagara Power Project has been addressed.
The Niagara Power Project is required by its FERC license to maintain an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) as prescribed by 18 CFR, Chapter 1, Part 12, Subpart C. The Niagara Power Project EAP was developed by the licensee in consultation with Federal, State and local agencies-- particularly those responsible for public health and safety.
The intent of the EAP is to provide, at the first sign of a real or potentially imminent project emergency, warning to all entities in the area that may be affected by the emergency, thereby decreasing damage and loss of life as a result of that emergency. Major components of the EAP include (but are not limited to):
· detailed flow charts and call down lists to be enacted at the first sign of emergency;
· specific operational procedures (such as emergency flow regimes) to be enacted under various circumstances and degrees of emergency;
· emergency backup procedures in the event of power failure and suggestions for local resources that can be utilized in an emergency situation (such as heavy equipment and contractors);
· plans for the training of personnel who are responsible for enacting the EAP; and
· a summary of the studies performed to determine the impacts of a sudden release of water on upstream and downstream communities and, if necessary, inundation maps.
The Niagara Power Project’s EAP is tested annually, via a drill enactment of the emergency call-down notification list. This enactment involves actual calls placed to all entities on the call-down list, including (but not limited to) Niagara University, local fire and emergency departments, local and State police, FEMA, FERC, the National Weather Association, and many others. Comments, suggestions and contact information updates are generated as a result of these drills, and changes are made to the EAP accordingly. In addition, dam personnel must be tested annually to insure that they are aware of the contents of the EAP and that they are able to enact its provisions if necessary. A score of 100% is required on this test: if this score is not achieved, it must be re-taken.
NYPA assures that it maintains a current and comprehensive EAP that effectively warns all appropriate entities in the event of a project emergency. NYPA personnel, as well as various emergency response agencies, are prepared to efficiently enact the provisions of this EAP if ever an emergency were to occur.
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. 2002. EMF Electric and Magnetic Fields Associated with the Use of Power: Questions and Answers. National Institutes of Health. http://www.niehs.nih.gov/emfrapid/.
Neutra, R., V. DelPizzo, and G.M. Lee. 2002. An Evaluation of the Possible Risks from Electronic and Magnetic Fields (EMF) from Power Lines, Internal Wiring, Electrical Occupations, and Appliances. Prep. for the California EMF Program, Oakland, CA.
URS Corporation, Gomez and Sullivan Engineers, P.C., and E/PRO Engineering & Environmental Consulting, LLC. 2003. Groundwater Flow Investigations in the Vicinity of the Niagara Power Project, prep. for the New York Power Authority.