Clean Path New York’s Proposed High-Voltage Converter Station Poses Environmental Justice Threat

BRONX, NY - Bronx Children’s Museum is extremely concerned about the impact of building and operating a proposed high-voltage DC to AC converter station on a one-acre site at Bronx Terminal Market at E. 151st Street and Exterior Street as part of a large-scale project to construct a new high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission line extending from Delaware County, New York, to Queens County, New York. The construction and operation of the converter station, proposed to New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) by New York Power Authority and Forward Power, will have a significant, negative impact on a neighborhood that is home to a newly-renovated destination public park; Bronx Point, a brand new affordable housing project developed by L + M Development Partners; public and parochial schools; Bronxworks; Hostos Community College; the Universal Hip Hop Museum; transitional housing and an emergency family shelter; and a bustling shopping hub that serves the South Bronx, not to mention the Bronx Children’s Museum itself. A Direct Current (DC) to Alternating Current (AC) high-voltage converter station has the potential to:

  • pose a public health threat stemming from exposure to strong electro-magnetic fields that have been associated with childhood leukemia clusters in numerous scientific studies;*

  • create a dangerous and inhospitable environment for a children’s museum, public park, and other public spaces and homes in the vicinity of the proposed converter station and its 7-story containment structure;

  • dramatically increase construction traffic on local streets already fraught with a high volume of construction, consumer and highway-access traffic;

  • disrupt museum activities and impede the quiet enjoyment of our programming due to the constant hum and acoustic disturbance associated with transformer equipment;

  • create a significant peril for the safe operation of our museum.

According to the proposal, "The line is in the Harlem River for four miles before making landfall in the Bronx Terminal Market, the proposed Zone J converter site location. The project is then interconnected to the Rainey Substation via an AC generator lead line coming off the converter station and running along East 151st Street and East 138th Street to make a landfall at the East River, in the South Bronx.” (Clean Path NY, 2021) The cover letter to the Clean Path New York proposal states the plan “offers an unparalleled opportunity to meet New York State’s nation-leading clean energy goals while also providing immense economic, environmental justice and public health benefits.” We believe the station poses an environmental justice threat and is yet another example of how the South Bronx and communities of color are disproportionately harmed by systemic racism. In addition, the siting of a high-voltage converter station and any high-voltage AC transmission lines are likely to cause harm on multiple levels to such a robust community. It is our understanding that the NYSERDA review process does not require standard community engagement protocols. All sources available seem to indicate the community only gets to comment after the proposal is approved and once the permitting process begins. After carefully reading about the process so far, Clean Path states that it has done most of the community engagement related to energy generation resources in upstate New York already. It is apparent to us that neither our community leaders nor our neighbors have been briefed on this project. If the Clean Path proposal is approved, it is our understanding that there will be a process under Article VII (“Siting of Major Utility Transmission Facilities”) of the New York State Public Service Law. This is wholly inadequate and bypasses the concerns of a community already struggling with an array of environmental injustices. We believe NYSERDA’s approval process should incorporate the concerns of local stakeholders prior to the designation of a transmission line developer whose proposal hinges on the location of its converter station at the Bronx Terminal Market. It is for us a great irony that after nearly two decades of struggle to build and open our museum that today we are confronted with a great challenge that may place our many years of hard work and the well-being of our community at risk. * Materials referenced: Seomun, GyeongAe, Lee, Juneyoung, & Park, Jinkyung (2020). Exposure to extremely low-frequency magnetic fields and childhood cancer: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLOS ONE 16(5): e0251628. Draper et al. (2005, June 4). Childhood cancer in relation to distance from high voltage power lines in England and Wales: a case-control study. BJM, 330, 5. Beinart MD, R., PhD, N. M., & Saman. (2013). Effects of External Electrical and Magnetic Fields on Pacemakers and Defibrillators. Circulationaha, 2799-2809. Ghodbane et al. (2013). Bioeffects of Static Magnetic Fields: Oxidative Stress, Genotoxic Effects, and Cancer Studies. BioMed Research International, 12. Gye Chan, M., & Park Jin, C. (2001). Effect of electromagnetic field exposure on the reproductive system. Clin Exp Reprod Med, 39(1), 1-9. Bronx Institute for Urban Systems. (July, 2021). An Unjust Transition: A Report on the Environmental Impact of Clean Path NY’s High-Voltage Infrastructure in the South Bronx.

ABOUT THE BRONX CHILDREN'S MUSEUM Founded in 2005, Bronx Children’s Museum (BxCM or Museum) is a new kind of multicultural, Bronx- inspired children’s museum operating “with and without walls” geared to those from infancy through fourth grade. To provide the Bronx’s children with an interactive place to learn and play, BxCM, with the City, is at the end of developing 13,000 square feet of space in a City-owned former powerhouse in the South Bronx. Expected to open to the public by summer 2022, the facility is located on public parkland just steps away from Yankee Stadium on the Harlem River. The Museum is expected to start its soft opening phase in April 2022. Until when COVID hit, BxCM engaged 16,000 Bronx children and caregivers annually in hands-on arts and science (STEAM) experiences and programs throughout the borough at community-based organizations, schools, shelters, libraries, parks and festivals. Using a purple bus as a roving learning environment and its complimentary suitcase exhibits and curriculum, the Museum visited 32 schools and was a key attraction at 32 fairs and festivals in 2017. The Museum also had six ongoing in-school and after-school programs and one summer arts enrichment program called Dream Big. In addition, BxCM offered two ongoing family arts programs specifically geared to residents living at Mitchel Houses in Mott Haven and organizations serving new immigrant populations. Press Contact: John Boudreau Director of Marketing and Communications john@bronxchildrensmuseum.org Between July 31 through August 8 Carla Precht Executive Director carla@bronxchildrensmuseum.org