Five Dock Electricity Substation: Safety Report

Greenwood Five Dock is located on the corner of Ramsay Road and Connecticut Ave, next door to an Electrical Substation. Before this site was acquired by Greenwood, a safety report was conducted by a regulatory body (supported by the University of Technology, Sydney) in conjunction with Canada Bay Council.

This article provides answers to the questions Greenwood has received about the Ramsay Road substation.

What is a substation?

Substations transform electrical voltages from high to low to serve the needs of commercial and residential properties in the area.

Is the Ramsay Road substation safe?

Yes, the facility is operating within the stringent safety requirements for active electrical substations in Australia.

What is an electromagnetic field?

An electromagnetic field (also EMF) is a physical field produced by electrically charged objects. They are created when there are differences in voltage – the higher the current, the stronger the magnetic field.

Low field levels are generated naturally by the electromagnetic activity of the Earth’s core. Man-made Electromagnetic fields are found in many areas around the home, including power sockets, TV antennas, induction cooktops and mobile phones. Outside the home, common sources of electromagnetic fields include overhead power lines, generators, and electrical substations.

Are electromagnetic fields monitored and regulated?

Yes. EMF levels are subject to a number of regulations, guidelines and protocols, including:

• City of Canada Bay Child Care Centres Development Control Plan (DCP);
• NSW Government Requirements and Guidelines;
• Electromagnetic Radiation: Human Exposure Standard 2003;
• Specific Guidelines for Young Children (Refer Section 3)

Greenwood Five Dock was required to comply with these regulations in order to gain approval from Canada Bay Council for a childcare facility.

How are electromagnetic fields measured?

The most common unit of measurement for electromagnetic fields is the milligauss (mG). This is the unit of measurement used for testing that was used for the Ramsay Road substation.

What EMF levels are considered safe?

The most conservative EMF levels to emerge from the various guidelines, standards
and protocols reviewed above, which include the specific compliance guidelines specified by Hornsby Shire Council, are as follows:

  • General Public (Adult) Exposure: 84 mG
  • Child Care Centre Exposure: 4 mG

These guidelines have been adopted as maximum criteria for EMF levels measured in accordance with AS/NZS 2772.2.

How were the EMF levels measured at Greenwood Five Dock?

Electromagnetic field levels were measured at the site using a Bell Model 4090 Electromagnetic Field (EMF) Meter. This instrument is a hand held device that allows for accurate and convenient measurement of electromagnetic fields from a variety of sources.

It is an instrument particularly suited to the measurement of the relatively low field levels associated with electrical substations, electrical cabling, overhead power lines and mobile telephony infrastructure.

What were the results?

EMF levels were measured at 86 representative locations throughout the overall site area, in order to provide a representative map of background field levels.

These field level measurements were recorded on Wednesday 13 November 2013, and checked and validated on Wednesday 20 November 2013.

All of the locations tested at the site except for one specific location tested at mG levels between 0 and 4, which is within the acceptable range for a childcare centre.

The one exception was the proposed entrance to the facility, which tested at 5-6 mG. Given that children will not be spending time in this space, the relatively minor elevation in the mG level was deemed acceptable. (Note: these standards have been measured against the most conservative criterion of 4 mG exposure for childcare centres, and 84 mG for normal office spaces).

The report states:

1. Electromagnetic field levels throughout the site are very significantly lower than the most precautionary available criterion of 84 milligauss (mG) applicable to work spaces occupied and used by adults, and that as a consequence the site complies with electromagnetic field requirements for general public use;

2. Electromagnetic field levels projected to apply to spaces throughout the area of the site proposed for the development and operation of a child care centre are substantially lower than the most stringent precautionary field level of 4 milligauss (4 mG) indicated by international medical and scientific literature as safe criterion for field levels in spaces to be used and occupied by young children, and as a consequence background electromagnetic field levels are not considered to pose any impediment to the development and safe operation of a child care centre at the site.

Where can I get more information?

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact the Greenwood administration team on: 1300 947 336.

You can also contact Canada Bay Council on: (02) 9911 6555.

Author: G8 Education

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