This chapter identifies potential effects from electromagnetic fields (EMF) and electromagnetic interference (EMI) at sample locations where receptors sensitive to EMF/EMI are located within the Affected Environment of this Tier 1 Final Environmental Impact Statement (Tier 1 Final EIS) Preferred Alternative.
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) defines EMFs and EMI below:
Railroad infrastructure (e.g., substations, and communication and signal systems) and operations (e.g., electric locomotives, overhead catenary system [OCS]) emit EMF/EMI; therefore, EMF/EMI exist where railroad infrastructure is located and where trains operate. Identifying the "presence" of EMF/EMI in the Affected Environment or Representative Route, similar to how natural resources like freshwater wetlands are evaluated, did not provide an adequate assessment of the potential effects related to EMF/EMI emissions in the Study Area (e.g., EMF/EMI is not measured in acres). It was more accurate to identify locations that might be sensitive to the emissions of EMF/EMI resulting from railroad infrastructure or train operations, and to identify potential mitigation strategies for these potentially sensitive locations. Accordingly, the FRA identified representative locations and potential sensitive receptors to EMF/EMI based on representative land cover and land uses, and proposed at-grade construction of the No Action Alternative and Preferred Alternative.1 Volume 2, Appendix E.17, contains additional information, including the results of the full analysis and assumptions on electric traction, OCSs, and rolling stock.
The FRA identified two potential sources of EMF/EMI:
Section 7.17.3 identifies sensitive locations that are representative of the types of sensitive locations located along the Representative Routes (sample locations).
The following are key findings of this analysis:
Using the process described in the EMF/EMI effects-assessment methodology (Volume 2, Chapter 7.17, Appendix E.17), to identify locations of sample sensitive receptors, the FRA identified 20 counties and Washington, D.C., where land cover is predominantly developed (medium or high density) and the construction type of the Existing NEC + Hartford/Springfield Line or the Preferred Alternative is at-grade. Potential effects on sensitive receptors adjacent to other construction types (e.g., tunnel, aerial structure) are less likely because those construction types shield EMF/EMI signals. Table 7.17-1 provides the locations of sample sensitive receptors meeting these criteria, identified by state and county.
The FRA further reviewed the 20 locations presented in Table 7.17-1, using aerial mapping to identify sample sensitive receptors along the Representative Routes. Using a screening distance of 500 feet, the FRA identified specific land uses within the Preferred Alternative that might be sensitive and most vulnerable to EMF/EMI (e.g., hospitals, universities, research facilities, high-tech manufacturing) under normal rail operations. Within these land uses, the FRA then identified sample sensitive receptors that may use equipment sensitive to EMF/EMI. The FRA considered these sample receptors to be representative of the types of sensitive receptors occurring end-to-end along the Representative Route. Table 7.17-2 identifies the state, county, and the approximate distance to the Representative Route where these sample sensitive receptors were identified. Land uses with potentially sensitive receptors are also common on the Hartford/Springfield Line, which operates only diesel services, but would be electrified in the Preferred Alternative.
|Geography||County||Developed Land Cover||Existing NEC + Hartford / Springfield Line||Preferred Alternative|
|MD||Anne Arundel||Medium Density||X||X|
|Baltimore City||High Density||X||X|
|Cecil||High and Medium Density||X||X|
|DE||New Castle||High and Medium Density||X||X|
|NY||New York||High Density||X||X|
|CT||New Haven||Medium Density||X||X|
|New London||Medium Density||X||X|
|MA||Hampden||High and Medium Density||X||X|
Effects from EMF/EMI resulting from train operations could disrupt equipment sensitive to EMF/EMI or cause it to malfunction. A majority of the sensitive receptors identified in Table 7.17-2 are proximate to new segments associated with the Preferred Alternative, where land uses were originally developed without concern for the effects of railroad infrastructure and related railroad operations (since none existed) on their uses. The following discussion focuses on those sample sensitive receptors that could be affected by EMF/EMI.
Locations where potential sensitive receptors might exist are in every state in which the Preferred Alternative would operate. However, as noted in Table 7.17-2 , specific land uses with sample sensitive receptors - and thus more of a concern at the Tier 2 project level - are located near new segments of the Preferred Alternative in Delaware County, PA; and adjacent to the Hartford/Springfield Line in Connecticut.
|ID||State||County||Existing NEC + Hartford/ Springfield Line||Preferred Alternative||Land Cover||Land Use||Observed Distance to Representative Route (feet)|
|1||MD||Cecil||X||Barren Land||Industrial, Transportation||<500|
|2||DE||New Castle||X||Developed, High Density||Industrial, University||<500|
|3||X||Developed, Medium Density||Medical|
|4||PA||Delaware||X||Developed, High Density||Aviation, Manufacturing||<500|
|6||CT||New Haven||X||X||Developed, Medium Density||Industrial||<500|
|8||Hartford||X||X||Developed, Medium Density||Manufacturing-aerospace||<500|
The Preferred Alternative contains no potentially sensitive locations identified as part of this analysis near stations.
To date, research has not identified any potential health effects associated with EMF/EMI to passengers and employees onboard existing and proposed electric trainsets. The FRA examined potential onboard EMF/EMI effects due to the electrification infrastructure and operations of Amtrak Acela trains on the NEC from New Haven, CT, to Boston, MA.2 The FRA determined that no EMF/EMI exposure to the public was exceeded by occupational limits of the Federal Communications Commission. It is likely that onboard EMF/EMI exposure in the equipment used by the Preferred Alternative would not exceed occupation limits of the Federal Communications Commission.
Exposure limits are different for humans and systems. Limits on EMFs are usually more restrictive for systems than human exposure in order to limit induced step and contact voltages. Table 7.17-3 lists values of Maximum Permissible Exposure as presented in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' Standard for Safety Levels with respect to Human Exposure to Electromagnetic Fields.
|Organization||Magnetic Field (mT)||Electric Field (kV/m)|
Table 7.17-4 shows the typical maximum electric and magnetic field values at fundamental frequency of 25 kV electric traction systems of the type used on the NEC. The values are calculated at 10 meters (approximately 33 feet) from the centerline of the nearest track at 1 meter (approximately 3 feet) above top of rail. As shown in the table, the maximum EMF values for systems are several orders of magnitude lower than the Maximum Permissible Exposure limits for human exposure.
|System||Frequency (Hz)||E-field (V/m)||H-field (μT)||Reference conditions||Reference documentation|
|25 kV||50||1000||16||Ic 1500 A, RMS
U= 27.5 kV with feeder wire autotransformer
|ITU(T) Directives CIGRE WG 3601|
Within the Context Area, the areas of greatest concern are those with the greatest concentration of sensitive receptors. Should the Representative Route shift during future stages of the development process, more site-specific analysis and mitigation strategies will be conducted, with specific focus on areas where universities, medical facilities, and advanced industrial uses (such as aerospace manufacturing) occur.
The number of representative locations potentially-sensitive to EMF/EMI identified for the Preferred Alternative (seven total, see Section 7.17.4) is greater than those expected to be encountered by any of the Action Alternatives. However, the number of sensitive locations expected to exist south of New York City (two each in Delaware and Pennsylvania) is consistent with the number of sensitive locations expected to be encountered by Alternative 2, which also affects the most potentially sensitive locations out of all the Action Alternatives. As noted earlier, the key differentiator north of New York City between the Preferred Alternative and the Action Alternatives is the inclusion of the Hartford/Springfield Line, where more potentially sensitive sites are located in Connecticut.
Electromagnetic compatibility ensures that systems function properly when in conflict with EMF/EMI. The FRA identified potentially sensitive receptors for each Action Alternative but did not identify specific effects on resources. The type of mitigation used to offset potentially adverse effects to sensitive receptors should be reviewed case by case, depending on the resource affected. However, typical mitigation strategies for EMF/EMI when dealing with rail infrastructure include the following:
Subsequent Tier 2 project studies will be reviewed for site-specific sensitive receptors to EMF/EMI. If sensitive receptors are identified, analysis to determine the extent of effects on these receptors will be undertaken. Tier 2 project studies could include the development of a frequency management plan, which would more accurately analyze the strength and intensity of EMF/EMI emissions based on the service plan, equipment selection, and final design of the selected alternative.
1 Potential effects on sensitive receptors adjacent to other construction types (e.g., tunnel, aerial structure) are less likely because they shield EMF/EMI signals.
2 EMF Monitoring on Amtrak's Northeast Corridor: Post-Electrification Measurements and Analysis, U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Research and Development, DOT/FRA/RDV-06/01, Final Report, October 2006. Accessed at https://www.fra.dot.gov/Elib/Document/2941