Rail infrastructure associated with electric propulsion systems - including substations and the overhead catenary system (OCS) - produce electromagnetic fields (EMF) and electromagnetic interference (EMI). Data monitoring systems and in-vehicle and wayside communication systems are also capable of producing EMF and EMI. This chapter identifies potential effects from EMF/EMI at sample locations where receptors sensitive to EMF/EMI are located within the Affected Environment of the Tier 1 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (Tier 1 Draft EIS) Action Alternatives. This chapter also describes potential mitigation procedures to minimize EMF and EMI effects caused by the Action Alternatives.
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) defines EMF and EMI below:
EMFs associated with electric conventional or high-speed train operations are typically 60 hertz (Hz) alternating current (AC) magnetic fields that result from current flowing in the traction power distribution system through an OCS, electrified third rail, or the rails themselves. A variety of communications, data transmission, and monitoring systems - both on and off vehicles - produce radio frequency EMFs.
The FRA developed an effects-assessment methodology to evaluate potential EMF/EMI effects. The methodology defines EMF/EMI and data sources used in the analysis, and explains how the FRA defined and established the Affected Environment. Table 7.17-1 summarizes key factors associated with the EMF/EMI methodology. Appendix E, Section E.17, contains additional information, including the results of the full analysis and assumptions on electric traction, OCSs, and rolling stock.
|Resource||Affected Environment||Type of Assessment||Outcome|
|Electromagnetic Fields (EMF)/ Electromagnetic Interference (EMI)||2,000-foot-wide swath centered on Representative Route for each Action Alternatives||Different EMI scenarios (mainly steady state and short duration) resulting from different operational conditions across several construction types. The scenarios assume a "maximum draw" or "worst case" in which EMF/EMI would be produced.||
Effects of EMF/EMI are based on the distance of a sensitive receptor to the EMF/EMI source. For NEC FUTURE Action Alternatives, the EMF/EMI source is related to train operations. Train operations contribute to EMF/EMI through electric traction, OCSs, and the type of rolling stock. The FRA conducted EMF/EMI simulations based on use of Tier III1 trainset equipment, which are trainsets that can operate at speeds exceeding 150 mph, with maximum passenger operation speeds of up to 220 mph. The FRA also considered two simulation scenarios:
To identify sample locations of sensitive receptors, FRA undertook the following steps:
Sample locations are presented by state and county for each Action Alternative. No site-specific sensitive receptors are named, but rather are presented by land uses (that could contain similar sensitive receptors) that may exist along the Representative Routes of the Action Alternatives.
The equipment used in the EMF/EMI simulations is similar to the Tier III trainsets used to develop service plans, and represents equipment that would likely be used for Intercity-Express, Intercity-Corridor, and Metropolitan services. The FRA will decide on rolling stock procurement, including the configuration and maximum speed of high-performance trainsets, as part of Tier 2 actions after completion of the Tier 1 EIS. (Appendix E, Section E.17, contains additional information, including the results of the full analysis and assumptions on electric traction, OCSs, and rolling stock.)
Railroad infrastructure (e.g., substations, and communication and signal systems) and operations (e.g., electric locomotives, OCS) provide EMF/EMI; therefore, the presence of EMF/EMI would be wherever most railroad infrastructure is located and where trains operate. There was little value in identifying the "presence" of EMF/EMI in the Study Area similar to how natural resources like freshwater wetlands are evaluated. Instead, the FRA identified sample locations and potential sensitive receptors to EMF/EMI based on representative land cover and land uses, and proposed at-grade construction of the Action Alternatives.
The FRA identified two potential sources of EMF/EMI:
EMF/EMI can affect sensitive equipment, such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machines or research equipment like electron microscopes. The fluctuation of EMF/EMI resulting from normal rail operations2 could disrupt the equipment or cause it to malfunction. EMF of 0.01 µT is a potentially harmful source of interference for research equipment on university campuses.3 ,4 Section 7.17.3 identifies sensitive receptors that are representative of the types of sensitive receptors located along the Representative Routes (sample locations).
To date, research has not identified any potential health effects associated with EMF/EMI to passengers and employees on-board existing and proposed electric trainsets. The FRA's document entitled EMF Monitoring on Amtrak's of Transportation Northeast Corridor: Post-Electrification Measurements and Analysis5 determined that EMF/EMI exposure to the public inside passenger coaches does not exceed the occupational limits established by the Federal Communications Commission.
Using the process described in section 220.127.116.11 to identify sample locations of sensitive receptors, the FRA identified 20 counties and Washington, D.C., where the land cover is developed (medium or high density) and the proposed construction type is at-grade. Table 7.17-2 and Table 7.17-3 provide the counties with locations meeting these criteria, identified by state, county, and Action Alternative.
The FRA further reviewed the 21 locations presented in Table 7.17-2 and Table 7.17-3 using aerial mapping to identify sample locations along the Representative Routes. Using a screening distance of 500 feet, the FRA identified specific land uses within the Representative Route for each Action Alternative that might be sensitive and most vulnerable to EMF/EMI (hospitals, universities, research facilities, etc.) under normal rail operations. Within these land uses, FRA then identified sample locations of facilities that may use equipment sensitive to EMF/EMI. These sample locations are considered to be representative of the types of sensitive receptors occurring end-to-end along the Representative Routes. Table 7.17-4 and Table 7.17-5 identify the state and county where sample locations were identified for each Action Alternative. Table 7.17-4 also provides the approximate distance from the land use to the Representative Route.
Effects from EMF/EMI resulting from train operations could disrupt equipment sensitive to EMF/EMI or cause it to malfunction. The discussion below identifies those sample locations that could be affected by EMF/EMI.
|Geography||County||Developed Land Cover||Existing NEC||Alt. 1||Alt. 2||Alt. 3|
|MD||Ann Arundel||Medium Density|
|Baltimore City||High Density|
|Cecil||High and Medium Density||X||X||X||X|
|DE||New Castle||High and Medium Density||X||X||X||X|
|NY||New York||High Density||X||X||X||X|
|CT||New Haven||Medium Density||X||X||X|
|New London||Medium Density||X||X|
|D.C. to NYC||New York City to Hartford||Hartford to Boston|
|via Central Connecticut||via Long Island||via Providence||via Worcester|
|ID||State||County||Existing NEC||Alt. 1||Alt. 2||Alt. 3||Land Cover||Representative Land Use||Observed Distance to Representative Route (feet)|
|1||MD||Cecil||X||X||X||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||X||Developed, High Density||Aviation, Manufacturing||<500|
|6||NY||Suffolk||X||Developed, Open Space||Utility||<100|
|8||MA||Suffolk||X||Developed, High Density||Government||<500|
|D.C. to NYC||New York City to Hartford||Hartford to Boston|
|via Central Connecticut||via Long Island||via Providence||via Worcester|
There is one potential sensitive location along the existing NEC in Cecil County, MD. The existing land use is industrial and associated with an existing transportation facility.
There are two potentially sensitive locations near the Representative Route of Alternative 1. One is located in Cecil County, MD, near an industrial use. The other location is in New London County, CT, and is a medical facility.
There are five potentially sensitive locations near the Representative Route of Alternative 2. Four are south of New York City - one of which is near aviation and manufacturing land uses in Delaware County, PA, near Philadelphia International Airport. The fifth location is near a government or civic use in Suffolk County, MA.
Washington, D.C., to New York City
There are two potentially sensitive locations near the Representative Route of this portion of Alternative 3 - one of which is near aviation and manufacturing land uses in Delaware County, PA.
New York City to Hartford
Via Central Connecticut
There is one potentially sensitive location near the Representative Route of the Alternative 3 via Central Connecticut route option. The location - in Suffolk County, NY - is industrial.
Via Long Island
There are two potentially sensitive locations near the Representative Route of the Alternative 3 via Long Island route option. Both are located in Suffolk County, NY, and are utilities.
Hartford to Boston
There is one potentially sensitive location near the Representative Route of the Alternative 3 via Providence route option. The receptor, located in Suffolk County, MA, is a government or civic use.
There is one potentially sensitive location near the Representative Route of the Alternative 3 via Worcester route option. The receptor, located in Suffolk County, MA, is a university.
There are no potentially sensitive receptors near stations in any of the Action Alternatives.
Within the Context Area, the areas of greatest concern are those with the greatest concentration of sensitive receptors such as universities and medical facilities. Should the Representative Route shift during future stages of the development process, more site-specific analysis and mitigation strategies would be conducted.
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 actions should 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 should be undertaken. Subsequent Tier 2 analysis may include the development of a frequency management plan. The frequency management plan 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 The equipment used in the EMF/EMI simulations is similar to the Tier III trainsets used to develop service plans, and represents equipment that would likely be used for Intercity-Express, Intercity-Corridor, and Metropolitan services. Decisions on rolling stock procurement, including the configuration and maximum speed of high-performance trainsets, would be decided as part of Tier 2 actions.
2 Normal operation represents the maximum EMF that would be expected from normal rail operations. The threshold identified where EMF/EMI might affect potential sensitive receptors is 0.01 µT. The distance of approximately 745 feet from the source indicates the range where normal operations might cause interference with sensitive equipment without proper protections in place.
3 Maryland Transit Administration. (2010). Electromagnetic Emissions and Mitigation Measures.
4 T. Dan Bracken, Inc. (2008). Survey of Ambient Magnetic Fields on the University of Maryland Campus. Prepared for John Brandon & Associates: http://rethinkcollegepark.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/08-1006-umd-final-text-r3.pdf
5 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
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