Category Archives: Health and Safety

Here you can discuss such matters as EMF (electro-magnetic field) health hazards; the vulnerability of the Olympic Pipeline to explosions and fires; hazards from the proposed construction methods contemplated

PSE’s Calling Energize Eastside a “System Upgrade” is Another Big Lie

PSE likes to play a semantic shell game of conflating “reliability” — coping with very rare peak usage in extreme events, such as early morning on an extremely cold day, where outages might last for just a few hours, occurring about every 5 to 10 years or never — with “updating the grid” to meet “increased demand,” even though overall electricity usage on the Eastside has gone down in the last 8 years. Here is a typical misleading ad from PSE, published in Eastside newspapers:

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The text in the yellow rectangle may appear fuzzy, so here it is: “New, independent research confirms the need to upgrade our electric grid now to meet growing demand. Without the Energize Eastside project, we risk longer and more severe outages. Learn more about how PSE is working with your community on a safe and reliable solution.”

That part about a “safe” solution is truly risible. Read this Planning Commision submittal from CSEE regarding PSE’s horrible gas pipeline safety record and the greed that drives the company to lie to the public in order to secure huge profits for its Australian and Canadian owners, without regard to the health and safety of its customers.

Energize Eastside is one big con job that must be stopped now!

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PSE’s Fraudulent Energize Eastside Project Would Gut Newcastle, Bellevue

True to form, PSE for the past three years has never revealed that its proposed “Energize Eastside” project would require its buying and destroying whole swaths of homes in Newcastle and Bellevue. But finally, hidden in the hundreds of pages of the murky and deeply flawed Draft Environmental Impact Statement (which sidesteps all the safety issues!), we find these entries:

EIS chapter 10, page 20: For the first time the EIS makes it clear that PSE will need to purchase many houses adjacent to the existing right-of-way. Not only might some home owners need to vacate their homes and see them destroyed, but the neighbors who remain would be looking at a no-man’s wasteland like the one the Berlin Wall ran through:

Berlinermauer

Chapter 11 page 29: The EIS admits that there will be up to 20% home value depreciation for Newcastle. If you think you won’t be affected just because you don’t live along the path of these gigantic new steel towers built next to jet fuel under pressure that can flow downhill to the tune of thousands of gallons per minute, think again. Check out the devastation caused by the pipeline explosion in San Bruno, California, in 2010: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_San_Bruno_pipeline_explosion. Here is a photo of a home downhill of the massive fire that ensued that killed eight people:

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Here is a graphic of what we can expect if our city councils are crazy enough to permit this project:

Easement expansion online

Easement expansion online2

According to electrical engineer Brian Elworth who prepared this document, “it is based on PSE widening the corridor 75 feet on each side to provide bare minimum separation between the tower base and adjacent pipes (including the hazardous liquid pipeline). It only includes Olympus but much more of Newcastle would be impacted. PSE may elect to only widen one side but it would have to be very wide.”

The greedy Australians who own PSE don’t care, of course, about what may befall us (including 130′ steel towers that could fall on our houses and crush us, such as in an earthquake along the Seattle Fault line that insanely enough is right where these towers would be placed), because they don’t live here.

This project should be called “Pulverize Eastside“!

PSE’s “Preferred Choice” for “Energize Eastside” Could Kill People

Janis Medley, long-time Bellevue resident, says 16 of the 18 miles contemplated for PSE’s “Energize Eastside” project puts new 230kV transmission lines (four times the power transmitted in current 115kV lines) along with huge new steel towers, right in the same right-of-way and just slightly above the aging Olympic Pipeline Company’s gas pipelines that transport millions of gallons of jet fuel under high pressure daily. These old pipelines so close to the proposed new lines pose the same or even greater risk to life and property that led to the death of 3 boys in Bellingham in 1999, along with massive property damage from the enormous explosion and widespread fire caused by just one leak in the pipeline.

With several equal or better alternatives to “Energize Eastside” available without its life-threatening hazards, is it not the height of irresponsibility even to consider this insane project? In any situation, if there are two viable options A and B to do something, but A could possibly kill people while B wouldn’t, who in good conscience would ever choose A?

The problem with the Australian and Canadian owners of PSE is that as corporations they have neither a heart nor a conscience in their pursuit of maximizing profits regardless of the cost to us, even if that means killing us. They don’t care about what happens in Washington State because they don’t live here. But why do we have to put up with their sociopathic “Energize Eastside” project?

Remember, this is the same PSE that was punished with the biggest fine ever handed out by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission ($1.25 million) for intentionally falsifying gas pipeline safety inspection records for over four years! And they say now, “Trust us”?

We will use every legal avenue available to stop this inhumane project. Meantime, add your name in support of a King County PUD to rid ourselves once and for all of PSE by going to http://www.kingpud.org.

 

 

 

PSE Prepares to Deforest Bellevue with Council’s Blessing

A March 19, 2015, letter to the Editor of Bellevue Reporter reveals how far PSE is willing to go into Godzilla mode to trash the Eastside with urban blight to satisfy its Australian and Canadian owners:

“According to a recent article in the Bellevue Reporter, PSE will pay the City of Bellevue almost a million dollars to compensate for the loss of 295 trees along 148th Ave SE and NE 8th Street. Tall power poles will intrude on these beautiful tree-lined streets. If the project is really necessary to keep our lights on, it should be installed underground. What will Bellevue look like if we lose 300 trees here, 8000 trees there (for Energize Eastside), and blindly continue down that path?

“Is this why Bellevue is giving up its “City in a Park” tag line? Perhaps it should be: “Bellevue, a Playground for PSE.”

“Don Marsh”

That letter may have also inspired this cartoon by Frank Shiers:

pse-trees

City of Newcastle Joins Dissenting Report on PSE’s Phony CAG Process

In what we hope will be the first of many such dissents, here is what the City of Newcastle has to say about the whole phony, PSE-rigged CAG process and Eastside Energy through its Community Development Director, Tim McHarg, who signed the CAG Dissenting Report on behalf of the city:

“The City of Newcastle supports PSE in its efforts to deliver reliable and cost effective solutions to the Eastside’s energy needs for existing and future residents and businesses.  However, the CAG process did not offer sufficient depth or breadth of data, analysis or alternatives to determine the best solutions to these needs.  If pursued, the resulting recommendation would have significant and irreparable impacts on homes and businesses along the routes and to our entire community, since both routes run through the middle of Newcastle.  Based on the information and process to date, city staff remain unconvinced that this is the only available option.  We encourage affected cities and the public to participate in the Environmental Impact Statement process for Energize Eastside to ensure a clear understanding of the nature of the problem and the impacts of feasible alternative solutions.”

PSE’s “Community Advisory Groups” (CAGs) Are a Sham and a Fraud

The centerpiece of PSE’s “public outreach” propaganda is to set the stage with rigged “Community Advisory Groups” so it can then falsely tell the permitting authorities PSE’s preferred route for dinosaur overhead wires and 12-story poles has the blessing of the citizens affected. In reality, this process has been manipulated and rigged by PSE in multiple ways to force the results it wants and sell it as “what the community wants.”

This isn’t the first time PSE has tried to pull this kind of stunt, and the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission called them out on it last year. PSE is required to file an annual Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) with the WUTC.  In its response to PSE’s 2013 IRP, the WUTC was highly critical of the same sharp practices with a CAG that PSE is repeating in the Energize Eastside project: “Advisory Group members expressed continued frustration with the way PSE responded to questions or requests for data. … Certain data were not provided … due to concerns about confidentiality. Yet, PSE did not take advantage of standard Commission practice for the handling [of] confidential information. These omissions inhibited [Commission] Staff review of the IRP, which the Commission finds unacceptable.” http://www.wutc.wa.gov/rms2.nsf/177d98baa5918c7388256a550064a61e/4b0c052bf4e679fe88257c7700773244!OpenDocument, p. 8.

And the WUTC further found generally: “[PSE] fails to meet the Commission’s expectations of clarity, transparency and thoroughness.” http://www.wutc.wa.gov/rms2.nsf/177d98baa5918c7388256a550064a61e/4b0c052bf4e679fe88257c7700773244!OpenDocument, p. 11.

But don’t take our word for it that PSE’s CAGs are a sham and a fraud. Below are several videos of Bellevue citizens airing their grievances to their city council on June 3, 2014 against PSE’s riding roughshod over them and others in a race against the technology clock to get their INDUSTRIAL BLIGHT project built. These citizens’ combined message to PSE and the City of Bellevue: Slow down; get all the facts right from trustworthy independent third party experts; put a moratorium on the project until then, and above all, do not accept PSE’s a priori, self-serving rejections of reasonable alternatives that the CAGs never had a chance to evaluate.

Jeff Dubois: PSE — and the City of Bellevue – we need to put safety first. The rail corridor that runs parallel to Lake Washington Blvd. above Newport Shores lies in the middle of a very sensitive slope with homes up on top and more homes and condos down below. In some places that slope is 70 degrees or steeper. Hundreds of trees would have to be removed from the hillside for a 1.5 mile proposed stretch with 50 feet being removed on each side of the line. This could be the next Oso tragedy. The City of Bellevue and PSE need to make sure the risks are truly understood and addressed for the safety of the citizens of Bellevue. For the entirety of his comments:

Don Miller: His neighborhood has attended every open house, every CAG meeting, and every subgroup meeting. Throughout the process they have seen PSE continuously refuse to consider alternatives such as submarining in the lake, giga storage batteries for peak usage, sharing the corridor with Seattle City Light, undergrounding, and others. In their meetings PSE has repeatedly attempted to keep citizens from raising issues or neighborhood concerns or suggestions to modify the process. PSE has routinely turned their questions away with weak data and incomplete or unsubstantiated answers or even deceit. For example, PSE repeatedly claimed no design work had been done on any route, but recently residents learned that on Route L PSE had done preliminary design work and conducted a walk-through and even showed the neighbors on Ripley Lane where the poles would be located. When the City Council attempted to get a specific answer to the question of the real need for regional use, they were forced to ask the question a variety of different ways as PSE dodged giving a specific answer. Miller urged the City Council to issue a moratorium on building permits for this project until such time that the questions are answered and PSE’s data is validated by independent sources. For the entirety of his comments:

Steve Kasner: He noted that although this has been referred to as a private utility based in Australia, there are best practices all over the country and the world as examples of what cities have done to protect their quality of life, their power grids, and the things that were important to their residents. He stated that the citizens have to make this work for the citizens of Bellevue by putting all the options on the table. It is ludicrous that the City can’t get solid numbers about how much energy will be going to Canada from the proposed Energize Eastside project. He hopes this will not be the last meeting facilitated by the City on this project. For the entirety of his comments:

Lisa Taylor:  Apartment owners are also impacted by this proposal, but the City is not hearing from them because they are not property owners. She asserted that Bellevue has been heavily hit by carrying the burden of transmission power for the entire region. There are lines around Lake Washington, along Lake Sammamish, two sets through the central city areas, and a third potential set proposed. She pointed out that she thinks there is more of this coming. This is a precedent that the City is setting in doing this. The Bonneville Power Administration is already carrying capacity on the City of Seattle lines. She’d like to have the City take a look at what the answer is, not just for this area, but also for the region with an eye toward what’s to come. She asked why Bonneville isn’t getting together with Seattle City Light and PSE to come up with one solution that gives us an answer for 50-60 years plus so we don’t have to go through this again. For the entirety of her comments:

John Merrill: There are less destructive alternatives to Energize Eastside, but PSE took them off the table before the CAG process even started. The City needs to put them back on the table and have them thoroughly studied. He referred to a graph stating that in less than three years the lights will start going out unless we let PSE trash our neighborhoods. This is a powerful message, but it is false and disingenuous. PSE has been studying the needs of the Eastside for decades. They had a number of solutions to the problem other than the one that they prefer now but have taken off the table. There is time to study this right. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to study this thoroughly in order to preserve the livability and sustainability of the community. For the entirety of his comments:

Assif Rehan Alvi: He travels a lot and regularly sees third world countries putting power lines underground. He is shocked that they are talking about putting 12-story power lines above ground in this country. He thinks there is enough money to do this right. He agrees that we owe it to our children and grandchildren. For the entirety of his comments:

Pat Hansen: She questioned if PSE’s easements should continue to be on private property. The residents receive no benefit. The easement was signed in 1929 when 10 or more acres were grouped together. PSE pays no part of their taxes for the privilege to occupy this space. She asked what it would be like in the area when they come in with their big trucks moving poles and wires, putting up monstrous metal poles towering over the trees and homes. She expressed concern about the high pressured petroleum lines underground. She asked what would happen when one of the pipes ruptures after repeated loads by the heavy trucks. This would affect not only the easement owners, but those on adjacent properties. For the entirety of her comments:

Dr. Richard Kaner: PSE’s Community Advisory Group (CAG) process is deeply flawed. The data presented for decision making, by PSE’s admission, is inaccurate. Their solution is to blind the CAG members so they don’t know which data applies to which route and then have them vote. The Seattle City Light corridor will be upgraded to meet the needs of Seattle and the region. This may be the best time to replace the “erector set” poles with well-placed undergrounding and less horrific monopoles that meet the needs of PSE, SCL, and BPA. PSE consultants admit that much of the need can be met by adding a third bank to the existing transformer in Sammamish and Lake Talbot. He asked about the connection to Lake Tradition or a combination of all of these. PSE is proposing the cheapest, most convenient solution that allows them to protect their margins and participate in the lucrative market of shipping power to Canada, which will be done at the residents’ expense. However, PSE is dealing with a community that cares deeply about values that have made this a desirable place to live. This community understands that putting this is in anyone’s backyard adds to the industrial blight that will destroy the quality of the Eastside. For the entirety of his comments:

Thomas Abel: He thinks everyone needs to remember that this city was built upon the idea that it is a park within a park; literally it is a community designed to live in nature. He commended CENSE and everyone in orange shirts for the work they have been doing to fight the concept of the power lines. However, he thinks they need to recognize that if these power lines must happen, the residents need to think about ways to do it without damaging the value everyone has in the City without defiling it with huge power lines and a variety of destructive means. For the entirety of his comments:

Philip Malte: He stated that 1 gigawatt is the amount of power that would go down this 230 kV line. 1 gigawatt is what a very large nuclear power plant puts out. A 1 gigawatt power line coming through neighborhoods would industrialize Bellevue. PSE is basically proposing an upgraded version of 1960’s technology. He noted that it is almost 2020 so why can’t we have 2020 technology? Snohomish PUD is planning to install grid-scale battery storage this year. This means they can hold back on their need for more transmission lines. If SnoPUD, which is a smaller utility, can do it, why can’t PSE? There is a lot that can be done with distributed generation. This needs to be looked at very seriously, as well as other alternatives. For the entirety of his comments:

Fred Martin: His house has the Olympic Pipeline running through their backyard with 45-foot poles with 115 kV lines running over the field. He looks out there and sees that as his retirement, as his nest egg. He noted that in an article last night in the Seattle Times, Mr. Andy Wappler referred to the affected residents as multi-millionaires. Mr. Martin confessed that he is not a multi-millionaire or even a millionaire, but this is his property and his nest egg. He commented that PSE is trying to fast track this and push it through. He stated that PSE is used to getting its way and used to being bullies. He urged the City of Bellevue to stand up to them, slow this down, and make them do a full study. For the entirety of his comments:

 

 

Newcastle News Guest Editorial Hits PSE’s Shoddy Safety Record

Here is the “Guest Opinion” by Larry Johnson published in the June 6, 2014 issue of the Newcastle News:

After having lived in Newcastle for the past 10 years next to the PSE power lines and the Olympic gas pipelines, my wife and I first gave little thought to PSE’s proposed “Energize Eastside” project that contemplates Olympus as part of one of two pre-selected routes an upgrade in PSE’s equipment might take. After all, these “H” poles date back to the 1960s and need to be replaced or removed at some point, we figured.

But then we learned things. The proposed new poles would be twice the height of the current ones, as high as 12-story buildings, and the increase in voltage from 115,000 volts to 230,000 volts would quadruple the power flowing through the lines and add to dangerous EMFs (electromagnetic fields). In addition, the new poles would require much bigger cement foundations that would require heavy equipment and massive vibrations to settle them into the soil, all within narrow 100’ easements and over and near gas pipelines that are 50+ years old. In 1999 this was the same Olympic gas pipeline that was ruptured in Bellingham by a mere backhoe. This rupture allowed jet fuel under pressure to escape, causing an explosion and fires that killed three youths and resulted in massive property damage.

Is there really no alternative to PSE’s risking our lives? Is that sane?

Can PSE guarantee our safety? “We have done this before,” they say, “we have a good relationship with the Olympic Pipeline Company, and we are a gas company, too.” In other words, “Trust us,” says PSE. But what PSE will never tell you in their multimillion-dollar PR blitz is that in 2008 PSE was fined a record $1.25 million by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission for having falsified gas pipeline safety inspection records over a span of four years! And we are to trust them to care about our safety?

PSE is a private for-profit utility owned by Australians and Canadians who don’t have to live daily with the consequences of running 18 miles of industrial blight through our Eastside cities. We do.

This is not a case of “NIMBY” (“Not In My Back Yard”). This project should be built in nobody’s back yard. To learn more and add your voice to oppose PSE’s ill-considered project, go to www.sane-eastside-energy.orgwww.CENSE.org and www.lakecorridor.org.