The Virginia State Corporation Commission is considering an appeal from Prince William County of a 1981 decision to allow a 230,000-volt power line near Manassas National Battlefield.
The county Board of Supervisors and planning commission, which routinely recommended approval of the power line last year, "is asking the state to review the power line and take a very close look at the health and safety issues," county planning director Roger Snyder said.
Spokesmen for the commission and the Virginia Electric Power Co. confirmed "discussions" are taking place but said no decision has been reached on reopening the case.
Whether high-voltage lines pose a danger has been a controversial issue wherever the power lines have been built during the past two decades.
Relatively little scientific study has been made of the issue, but some persons have claimed electromagnetic fields created by the power lines can cause leukemia, said Jeremy Raines, a Rockville expert in electromagnetism who helped citizens persuade Prince William officials to appeal the power line decision.
"No one can say definitely that there are or are not any hazards, though the power companies state unequivically that there are none," Raines said.
Most Manassas-area residents learned of the new high-voltage line only this summer when Vepco officials surveyed the seven-mile utility right of way that runs through a portion of the battlefield. The right of way already contains 500,000-volt and 115,000-volt lines.
In response to citizen complaints about the 140-foot height of the proposed new towers, Vepco earlier this month said it will consider reducing the height to 110 feet, the height of the 500,000-volt line.
Virginia has half of the nation's 1,700 miles of 500,000-volt power lines. The lines in Prince William County extend from Vepco's only area power plant at Possum Point.
Residents in the nearby Lake Ridge area, by the Occoquan Reservoir, have even more voltage overhead than Manassas-area residents would. In one right of way through Lake Ridge, Vepco has a 500,000-volt line, two 230,000 lines and one 115,000 line.
Another Vepco Lake Ridge right of way may get a 500,000 overhead line in the future, as part of a huge 240-mile circuit, or "electric Beltway," being built around Washington.