Report on fire and electrical hazards of “Smart” and other digital meters – Part 3

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OVERVIEW:
Fire and Electrical Hazards from ‘Smart’, Wireless, PLC, and Digital Utility Meters – Part 3

Nina Beety
July, 2019
PDF of full report

Continued from Part 2…

Flawed FCC requirements and testing

Isotrope, LLC: 1

Conclusions in this report include the observation that [FCC] Part 15 radiated–‐ and conducted–‐emissions testing of electrical meters does not replicate actual conditions because a power cord is attached to the meter socket in the test chamber rather than simulating the installation of the meter on a meter socket connected to both the power grid secondary and the residence distribution panel. Moreover, while the conducted emissions from the meter at 915 MHz ISM frequencies in a residence was observed to be substantial, FCC Part 15 regulations limit conducted emissions testing to 30 MHz, ignoring the conducted emissions of the AMR radio signal.

7. Summary Conclusions

AMR Conducted Emissions Are Strong, but Not Regulated. The conducted emissions of the AMR electric meters at the 915 MHz band are substantial, but are not regulated by Part 15 (which cuts off above 30 MHz). If the 30 MHz limit were applied to 915 MHz, it is probable that the meter would fail a lab test, subject to the following observation.

AMR Meter Lab Testing Fails to Simulate in Situ Wiring. The lab testing of the AMR meters employed a simple power cord temporarily attached to the meter mounted in a panel. The meter does not normally employ a power cord. This approach does not simulate the manner in which the house wiring feeds through the electric meter. The meter has two power connections: one entering the meter typically from the top to deliver power to the meter and another exiting the bottom of rear of the meter panel to supply power to the main breaker panel. Using a power cord instead of setting up the power wiring the way the device is actually used may not reveal how the house circuit wiring through the meter may act. The actual in situ wiring may be more like an antenna that may pick up unwanted RF energy and noise within the meter and conduct it into the residence. See photo appended to this report [p. 15-16]

Other noise frequencies above 30 Hz caused by the switched mode power supply would not be regulated by FCC Part 15 either.

Inadequate worker qualifications and training, poor installation quality

PG&E hired the company Wellington to install most Smart Meters. Wellington hired people who were not electricians and gave them a minimum of training on how to remove the analog electric meters and install gas and electric Smart Meters. Installers were paid per meter they installed and were also awarded bonuses for exceeding quotas. They incentivized installing meters as quickly as possible. This was true of other utility companies in the U.S. and other countries. Many times these contractors would not notify building occupants they were installing meters and disconnecting the electricity, endangering the people in the building or home. There were also accounts of contractors removing the meters under load – not disconnecting the electricity at all. This is a fire risk and a very hazardous procedure.

The Saskatchewan provincial government changed the law to allow SaskPower to use unqualified workers to install Smart Meters.2 This was discovered through Freedom of Information requests. “(International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) IBEW Local 2067 originally fought the exemption, saying it had ‘serious reservations about the potential for injury or property damage and the lack of qualified supervision.’ The change went ahead anyway. On March 1 this year [2014], the meter replacement workers were brought into the union, their safety training “beefed up,” and wages and benefits increased.”3

Tennessee IBEW local 1288 strongly opposed Smart Meters over the high program costs, fire danger, overbilling by the meters, loss of jobs and value of on-site inspections.4

However, in California and other areas, IBEW actually promoted Smart Meters and the temp jobs at public city and county hearings, and opposed Smart Meter moratoriums.

IBEW supported unskilled workers installing Smart Meters. Why? Because “the meter replacement workers were brought into the union.” How much did utility companies and contractors pay IBEW to enroll installers as temporary union members? Which state officials gave these temp workers a qualifications waiver from state safety rules?

A former Wellington worker talked with Stop Smart Meters! in 2011:

SSM: The FCC requires that these devices be installed by trained professional electricians. What kind of training did you receive prior to working as a ‘smart’ meter installer?

WW: We received only two weeks of training before they sent us out to do the installations. Though the procedure is relatively simple, if you get it wrong this can lead to arcing, shorts- even house fires. The blades on the back of the meter have to be aligned properly with the jaws on the socket the meter gets placed in. I kept hearing one of the managers say, “you guys weren’t trained properly.” …There was a lot of pressure on workers to install as many meters as possible in a day in order to earn bonuses. I overheard numerous times while at work, “you could have burned that goddamned house down.”…The more you called Wellington, the worse it looked on your record- because you’re wasting time. I saw sparks coming from one of the meters on a home. I reported it but am not sure what- if anything- was done.5

A fire captain called PG&E when he had electrical problems following Smart Meter installation. A PG&E worker checked his electrical system.

He then proceeded to tell me that they were having nothing but problems with the contractor who was installing the meters and that it was costing PG&E more money to follow the contractors through each neighborhood and fix the problems they were causing and that the reason they did this is that PG&E didn’t want to pay its own workers wages and wanted a cheaper price…

He then went on, telling me that the burnt area was more than likely due to the contractors not being able to fit the new Smartmeter into place, so they widened the receiving clip and shoved it into place. By them widening the clips, they caused an area of no contact which then caused arcing every time we used an appliance with 220v.

…He then kept telling us more and more about all the problems and how this company only gave these people installing the meters two days of training and were hiring people who were not electricians. He also told us about injuries to contact [contract?] employees were receiving due to lack of training.6

Vulnerability to hacking

Cybersecurity has been a problem with Smart Meters from the beginning.

Reuters, 2014:

Traditionally, energy utilities have kept infrastructure like power plants safe from cyber attack by keeping it separate from the open Internet. But that is rapidly changing as a new generation of “smart” power meters hooks up customers to their utilities through the web,

…Last November, Felix Lindner came very close to shutting down the power supply of Ettlingen, a town of almost 40,000 people in the south of Germany. “We could have switched off everything: power, water, gas,” Lindner, head of Berlin-based Recurity Labs, an IT security company, said. Fortunately for residents, Lindner’s cyber attack on its energy utility, Stadtwerke Ettlingen, was simulated. But he revealed how easy it was to hack into the utility’s network through its IT grid, which gave him access to its control room.7

Interview with former CIA director James Woolsey:8

…What they’re doing now, they’re constructing what they call a “Smart Grid.” And they’re going to make it easier for you and me to call our homes on our cell phone and turn down our air-conditioning on a hot afternoon if we’re not there. Great, but that may well mean that a hacker in Shanghai with his cell phone could do the same thing or worse. And a so-called “Smart Grid” that is as vulnerable as what we’ve got is not smart at all, it’s a really, really stupid grid.
[ASSURAS] Vulnerabilities is what you’re telling me. We’re not taking care of them.
[WOOLSEY] We’re not.

A widespread hack in Puerto Rico allowed electricity theft and fraudulent bills.

Smart Meters allow access to energy data and use for surveillance, data alteration, and being able to shut-off power to individual meters, neighborhoods, or the grid itself.

Doug Powell, Manager of SMI Security, Privacy & Safety, Canadian utility BC Hydro:

Every endpoint [meter] is a new potential threat vector.9

Bloomberg, 2015:

’Introducing smart meters means you install access points to the electricity grid in private homes,’ said Reinhard Gruenwald, an energy expert at the Office of Technology Assessment at the German Bundestag, a scientific institution advising German lawmakers.10

This vulnerability brings fire and explosion risks, says Karthik Pattabiraman, 11 associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at University of British Columbia, discussing his recent published research on improving Smart Meter security:

Hacked meters can even cause house fires and explosions or even a widespread blackout. Unlike remote servers, smart meters can be relatively easily accessed by attackers, so each smart meter must be quite hackproof and resilient in the field.

Danger due to meter location

Sparks, Nevada fire chief Tom Garrison was interviewed on Nevada Smart Meter fires:

Fires sparked by smart meters can be dangerous because they often start outside of the house and cannot be detected by smoke detectors, Garrison said. “It can burn a long time and enter the attic or the walls,” Garrison said of a smart-meter blaze. “The occupants inside may not even be aware the house is on fire. This is very alarming to me.”12

Vibration and heat in building materials from RF emissions

Thermografix Consulting Corporation thermal radiation consultant and Red Seal journeyman electrician Curtis Bennett has measured heat buildup in buildings as a result of vibration caused by internal or external RF emissions. He has repeatedly warned that fire wall and structural integrity are being compromised by this exposure, and that this can lead to fire wall failure.13 He says building codes were designed to protect and shield building materials from 60 Hz electromagnetic fields and their impact on material integrity. Those fields vibrate molecules, changing molecular polarity at 120 times per second. This vibration also causes heat.

But, building codes were not designed for the much higher frequencies and vibration of wireless radiation exposure. PG&E electric Smart Meters constantly transmit at 924 MHz and 2.4 GHz for the Home Area Network. This high frequency radiation causes molecules in building materials, metal, and in the body to change polarity 1.8 billion times per second and 4.8 billion times per second. “There is a physical interaction with the frequencies at molecular levels affecting building code compliance by vibrating the building billions of times per second.”14 These exposures violate building codes which prohibit vibration.15

Accelerated corrosion

In metal, these near-field exposures can cause metal fatigue and rapid non-oxidative corrosion from electron-stripping.

Andrew Michrowski PhD:16

The rate of corrosion is directly proportional to the frequency of emissions – 3 GHz signals will corrode 10X faster than 300 MHz, and 500,000X faster than powerfrequency (60Hz) corroding water mains, gas pipelines, reinforced concrete re-bars, etc.

Violation of FCC Grants of Equipment Authorization

EMF Safety Network, California Public Utilities Commission, A.10-04-018 excerpts:

5. FCC Grants of Equipment Authorization, which govern the rules upon which FCC compliance is based, warns that RF exposure compliance depends on specific conditions.

6. Network has researched FCC conditions for the following meters that PG&E is deploying: FCC ID numbers OWS-NIC514, OWS-NIC507, and LLB6327PWM.

7. Network believes that PG&E Smart Meters violate one or more FCC conditions that determine RF exposure compliance. The conditions include one or more of the following, depending on the specific make and model of Smart Meter:
—-limited single module approval requires professional installation;
—-antenna(s) must provide a separation distance of at least 20 centimeters
(cm) from all persons;
—-antenna(s) must not be co-located or operating in conjunction with any
other antenna or transmitter;

8. I doubt that several weeks of installer training qualifies PG&E installers as professionals” and also doubts that Smart Meter installers are given accurate information about RF operating conditions.

9. Many PG&E Smart Meters are installed within 20 cm of public access. In some cases the meters are installed inside homes and businesses. In many situations Smart Meters are easily accessible to the public.

10. PG&E Smart Meters are widely co-located in banks of multiple meters.
Co-location also occurs within Smart Meters because electric Smart Meters include at least two internal RF antennas. One antenna is used for the mesh network system and the other is for Home Area Network (HAN) systems. Antennas are designed to work in conjunction with HAN and RF appliances and with other Smart Meters in a mesh network.

11. Antennas have separate Grants of Equipment Authorization, which suggests that manufacturers have tested antennas in isolation and individually, and not in combination, which is how the Smart Meter and the Smart Grid system were designed to operate…17 (emphasis added).

This lack of compliance may have electrical safety consequences.

Other fire-related issues with Smart or digital meters

Removing meters and hampering investigations

A fire scene is essentially a crime scene, and must be preserved pending investigation by fire personnel. However, PG&E and other utility companies are usually very quick to respond to incidents and pull off the meter and take it away. They often arrive at the fire scene before the fire department.18 Utility personnel do not let investigators examine meters, and they have even questioned the fire department’s authority to have the meter.

From Nevada:

In some cases, fire investigators who did respond had difficulty confiscating the burned meters as evidence.

“I notified (the NV Energy employee) that the smart meter remains were evidence for the investigation and would be logged in at the Sparks Police Department for investigation hold,” the Sparks investigator on a fire on Windswept Drive wrote. “(He) asked under what authority we have to keep their property.”19

From Quebec:

Quebec City’s fire department says Hydro-Québec has been too quick to remove smart meters from the scenes of fires where faulty wiring may be an issue.

The fire department says the meters are sometimes gone before investigators can look at them to find out whether their wires might have been damaged, which could lead to a short circuit and a fire.

“A fire is considered a crime scene and at a crime scene evidence should be left alone,” said France Voiselle, a department spokeswoman.

But Patrice Lavoie, a spokesman for Hydro-Québec, said the meters belong to the public utility and the meters don’t cause fires.

“We are totally entitled to bring them back to our office,” he said.20

Insurance adjuster Norman Lambe, New Mexico Public Regulatory Commission:

Q. What are some of the issues that have arisen from “smart” meter-caused fires?

A. In cases of fire involving “smart” meters, by the time a representative from the
insurance company arrives at the scene, the utility has already responded, usually during the course of the local fire department’s fire suppression efforts. Utility companies commonly remove the “smart” meter that had malfunctioned and/or ignited prior to completion of the necessary investigation into the cause of the fire. This hampers my ability to see that a proper investigation is performed for insurance purposes. This also complicates the job of Fire Marshals and/or fire department investigators. This may potentially also lead to a misdiagnosis by fire departments and insurance agencies and an undercounting of the total number of “smart” meter caused fires.

Utility companies have kept the “smart” meters, claiming that they are the company’s property, and they can do with them as they please. It can take me several months, if not years, to obtain the “smart” meter that is believed to be the same one involved in, and the primary cause of a particular fire. Thus, the timeframe required to perform the requisite analysis is substantially extended; consequently, fires caused by “smart” meters can be extremely challenging to investigate and resolve.

…(Claim number 2015-2031-77A)This case exemplifies the difficulty that we encounter when trying to obtain access to “smart” meters in order to perform a proper investigation. We still have not been permitted the opportunity to inspect the meter by Nevada Energy. Residents stated that the “smart” meter exploded. The inability to access the meters in “smart” meter fire cases is a consistent problem…(Re: Friars Village Shopping Mall) Please note that as of the date of this testimony, more than two years later, we have not yet been able to gain access to our insured’s “smart” meter in order to perform the requisite investigation.21

A fire broke out at a home In Firebaugh, California:

[Jose] Valdez and his family ran out and firefighters had already started pouring water on the house. 
He noticed several PG&E employees got there almost as quickly, and he says one of them removed the smart meter while the firefighters worked. Firebaugh’s fire chief saw it too. 
He says he [has] never seen that before, but he thinks he knows why they may have wanted the device. 
“Investigation after the fire was put out revealed that in all probability the fire was caused by a problem in the electrical panel and the problem in the electrical panel, in my belief, was the Smart Meter that was installed in the panel by PG&E,” said John Borboa.22

In Nevada:

The investigation files also offer evidence that the meter blazes could be more widespread than even fire investigators know. In the reports, NV Energy employees on the scenes of two of the fires told investigators that such blazes happened regularly.

In an interview last week, an electrician who helps NV Energy replace the meters told the Reno Gazette-Journal that often meters would be fixed before the fire department could even be called. The RGJ has withheld his name because he continues to do work for NV Energy and didn’t want to put his employment at risk.

“NV Energy was so quick in having me or one of the other guys out there that the fire department never knew about them,” he said. “We’d have the panel changed out and power turned on within five hours and a guy painting the wall right behind us.”

He said that he’s fixed 15 or 16 burned-out meters in the past two years in Reno, Sparks and Gardnerville.

“The fire department was never called on most of them. I only saw the fire department on two or three of them,” he said.

… Another worker on scene at that fire told Sparks investigators he “has been replacing about two smart meters a month that have failed and caused damage to the residential or commercial buildings.”

“NV Energy collects all the damaged smart meters and has not admitted to the problems with them,” he told investigators, according to the report.23

This situation is likely illegal, and utility workers and IBEW members are participating in the cover-up.

At a fire in June 2013, an NV Energy trouble technician told firefighters that exploding smart meters were a “big problem,” and that trouble technicians and meter technicians have opted out of having them installed on their own homes — which they did out of safety concerns as well as in protest to NV Energy’s decision to lay off meter readers once the smart meters were installed.24

Non-specific and inadequate fire coding

Complicating and impeding investigations and research is the lack of specific fire coding for fires related to Smart Meters. Coding is vague, and there is no coding for a Smart Meter or electric meter as primary or secondary cause.

A UK report said: “The current (CLG) Fire & Rescue Service Incident Recording System is not configured to capture specific details of fires originating in electrical equipment.”25

Punished whistleblowers

  • Oncor employee Bobby Reed testified before the Texas legislature about Smart Meter fires and was fired. The union filed a complaint with the NLRB.
  • PG&E meter reader Patrick Wrigley testified before CPUC Administrative Law Judge Amy Yip-Kikugawa that he was fired because he spoke up on meter inaccuracy. He also told her that PG&E knows Smart Meters cause fires.
  • Sensus: Engineer Don Baker was fired for warning of meter defects creating a fire hazard. He filed a qui tam lawsuit against Sensus, Alabama Power and Southern Company because he said they knew of the defects.26 U.S. DOJ refused to hear the case.

These whistleblowers were ignored.

Problems undercounted due to lack of proper investigation

The Canadian report by Ritenburg and Associates27 on SaskPower’s meter fires found malfunctioning meters were often not investigated. Instead, they were returned to the manufacturer for replacement. Meter malfunctions or issues were also not thoroughly recorded. The Ritenburg report has photos of meters tagged as “communication errors” but have signs of arcing on the circuit board.

Many more meters may be malfunctioning due to burgeoning conditions that can culminate in fire, but they are not being counted. Therefore, the true scope of the problem will not be known. This benefits meter manufacturers, utility companies, and states and provinces which bear the liability.

SaskPower told Ritenburg that it’s normal for communication to be lost with meters “for up to a day.” Ritenburg’s response: “This trend makes reporting of off-normal conditions on a timely basis somewhat unreliable.”

Saskatchewan ordered SaskPower to remove all its Smart Meters, and Ritenburg reported that SaskPower was simply disposing of the meters, not examining them for signs of degradation. This is unprofessional and lacking in any regard for public safety. It is likely common practice for most, if not all, utilities. How can the public trust these companies and workers to deliver gas and electricity safely to their communities?

Elimination of monthly inspections

Utility companies no longer visually inspect meters every month. Meter reader jobs were eliminated by Smart Meters, which wirelessly transmits customer usage data constantly instead. Labor cost-cutting was a key part of alleged program “benefits”. However, those monthly meter visits could identify meter safety issues. The public has repeatedly warned about this cost to public safety and opposed these job losses.

Increasing terpene production in surrounding trees due to stress

Studies have shown significant stress, injury, and death to trees from RF exposure due to cell towers and radar28, and the public has reported rapid negative health changes to trees following Smart Meter roll-outs. This occurred in Monterey. Trees produce terpenes — volatile oils that are aerosols — under normal conditions. When trees are stressed or injured, they emit more terpenes. Increased volatile oils due to wireless radiation exposure would create a more flammable environment for fire.

Inaction from fire safety administrators

Some fire and public safety officials have been outspoken about these fire and electrical hazards, and helpful in researching this issue, such as the 2017 testimony of retired fire captain Duane Roddy to the Michigan House Energy Committee. Others have kept quiet, unresponsive to records requests, and uninterested in investigating, while others have even said the meters are safe.. Some fire personnel have expressed fear of retribution, fear for their jobs, or the risk of lawsuits if they speak out on the fire and electrical problems they’ve seen.

From Nevada:

“Given the lingering safety question presented by the Reno and Sparks fire departments’ expert, staff believes it would be prudent to gather some information from NV Energy regarding any fires which have occurred where NV Energy equipment may have been involved,” PUC lawyer Tammy Cordova wrote. Not everybody is convinced that the meters are a menace. Nevada State Fire Marshal Peter Mulvihill thinks the gadgets are safe, although he said the new fires warrant an investigation. NV Energy, which has installed 1.1 million meters, also defends their safety.29

Preserving the fire scene is essential.30 Fire officials and insurance companies must thoroughly investigate first. Yet, state, county, and city fire officials haven’t stopped utility companies from removing meters from fire scenes. They also haven’t insisted on conducting their own investigations, and haven’t gotten specific fire coding. Why?

A PG&E email31 to the CPUC surfaced several years ago about getting the help of “sympathetic” fire officials after Smart Meters exploded at two shopping malls.

PG&E advertises its close relationship with fire officials in television ads. Fire departments also get grants from PG&E for equipment. PG&E and other utility companies routinely train fire personnel for electrical and gas fires. This creates a cozy relationship particularly with fire department upper management.

The report on British Columbia fires and investigations32 indicates some fire safety officials and agencies may have become politically compromised — a disturbing prospect. In 2016, twelve horses were killed, eleven injured, two severely so, and two firefighters were injured in a catastrophic barn fire in Florida.33 Initial quotes from Fire Rescue and fire investigators were that the cause was a catastrophic failure of the meter “causing flames and sparks to ignite hay, feed and other combustible materials that were nearby”. But that changed. The incident report later issued by the county and its inspector painted a very different picture — “unspecified electrical malfunction on the south end of the building…(I was unable to identify which device caused the fire without further specific testing and examination…).” The investigation office did no further testing once arson was ruled out, turning the case over to private investigators. Smart Grid Awareness researched this and was unable to discover any final resolution or determination.

If some fire administration officials are no longer objective and won’t speak out and expose a fire hazard, they harm the public and the fire fighters on the line that must deal with the consequences and risk their lives. That is unacceptable.

Continued in Part 4….

1 Report on Examination of Selected Sources of Electromagnetic Fields at Selected Residences in Hastings-on-Hudson, November 23, 2013
http://stopsmartmetersny.org/images/Report_on_Examination_of_Selected_Sources_of_Electromagnetic_Fields_at_Selected_Residences_20140301.pdf (emphasis added)

2 http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/saskatchewan-changed-law-to-allow-unqualified-workers-to-install-smart-meters-ndp/article20086884/

http://www.ndpcaucus.sk.ca/government_has_known_using_non_electrical_workers_made_smart_meters_dangerous link no longer works

3 http://www.leaderpost.com/health/Smart+meter+installers+problem+Union/10141322/ story.html (emphasis added) link no longer works

4 https://web.archive.org/web/20130617155711/ http://www.wmctv.com/story/22229806/unions-oppose-mlgws-smart-meter-expansion

5 http://stopsmartmeters.org/2011/01/26/stop-smart-metersexclusive-interview-with-a-wellington-energy-whistleblower/

6 http://emfsafetynetwork.org/?p=4904#.Tgq5IjufSvo.email (emphasis added)

7 http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/business/tech-biz/07/16/14/smart-technology-could-make-utilities-more-vulnerable-hackers

‘Smart’ technology could make utilities more vulnerable to hackers, 7-16-14

8 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lF3eywqD-I

EnergyNow, June 19, 2011

9 https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20120412005992/en/Hacking-Expert-David-Chalk-Joins-Urgent-Call

10 https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-04-01/turkish-blackout-shows-world-power-grids-under-threat

Turkey’s 10-Hour Blackout Shows Threat to World Power Grids

11 https://news.ubc.ca/2019/06/06/ubc-researchers-find-ways-to-hackproof-smart-meters/

UBC researchers find ways to hackproof smart meters

12 https://www.offthegridnews.com/2014/10/01/this-womans-death-may-confirm-all-your-suspicions-about-smart-meters/

13 http://youtu.be/GtIWW6PY-vk

14 https://www.bcuc.com/Documents/Proceedings/2012/DOC_32604_C19-6_WKCC-Submission-RDCK-Nelson-Creston_Suspension.pdf

15 http://thermoguy.com/fortisbc-canadian-wireless-smart-meter-programs-not-compliant-with-building-codes/

16 Personal correspondence, 2014, with Dr. Michrowski, Planetary Association for Clean Energy (PACE)

17 http://emfsafetynetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/129162.pdf

Application for Rehearing, California Public Utilities Commission

18 https://smartgridawareness.org/2015/07/28/utilities-remove-burned-smart-meter-evidence-from-fire-scenes/

19 https://www.rgj.com/story/news/2014/09/21/reno-smart-meter-fires-widespread-first-feared/15897355/

20 http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/quebec-city-firefighters-ask-hydro-québec-to-leave-smart-meters-alone-1.2983309

21 http://www.electronicsilentspring.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/nl.pdf

https://skyvisionsolutions.files.wordpress.com/2016/08/lambe-testimony-in-new-mexico.pdf
Norman Lambe testimony, July 13, 2016, PNM rate case, New Mexico PRC

22 https://abc30.com/lawsuits-claim-faulty-pg-e-smart-meters-started-house-fires/2657513/ with video

Lawsuits claim faulty PG&E Smart Meters started house fires, November 17, 2017

23 https://www.rgj.com/story/news/2014/09/21/reno-smart-meter-fires-widespread-first-feared/15897355/

24 ibid (emphasis added)

25 Investigation Report into: Fires Originating in Electrical Intakes, Mark Hobbs, Lead Fire Investigation Officer, East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service, UK, July 2010

26 http://stopsmartmeters.org/2012/01/20/meters-that-endanger-shocking-details-from-a-whistleblower/

http://stopsmartmeters.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Alabama-Baker-Sensus-Complaint.pdf

27 http://www.saskatchewan.ca/~/media/news release backgrounders/2014/oct/3 ritenburg final report.pdf

28 http://kompetenzinitiative.net/KIT/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Tree-damages-in-the-vicinity-of-mobile-phone-base-stations.pdf

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/306435017_Radiofrequency_radiation_injures_trees_around_mobile_phone_base_stations

29 http://www.offthegridnews.com/2014/10/01/this-womans-death-may-confirm-all-your-suspicions-about-smart-meters/

30 https://www.iveyengineering.com/steps-fire-explosion-experts-use-investigate-building-fire/

31 PG&E email: 84. “We have contacted several fire chiefs who are sympathetic” ftp://ftp2.cpuc.ca.gov/PG&E20150130ResponseToA1312012Ruling/2011/09/SB_GT&S_023103 1.pdf

32 http://www.stopsmartmetersbc.com/bcuc-smart-meter-fires-the-failure-to-protect/

http://tinyurl.com/SMFireReport

33 https://smartgridawareness.org/2017/12/09/questions-remain-regarding-fire-linked-to-utility-meter/

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Report on fire and electrical hazards of “Smart” and other digital meters – Part 2

This version can be translated with the translation tool available on this site.

OVERVIEW:
Fire and Electrical Hazards from ‘Smart’, Wireless, PLC, and Digital Utility Meters – Part 2

Nina Beety
July, 2019
PDF of full report

Continued

Faulty remote disconnect switch

PG&E whistleblower Patrick Wrigley told the CPUC December 20, 2012:

I was a meter reader for nine and a half years with PG&E in the Marin office before I was illegally fired because I was not intimidated into being quiet with the problems I saw firsthand regarding smart meters’ inaccuracy…The fact that PG&E knows that they do catch on fire when they are remotely turned back on when a customer who is delinquent in their bill finally pays their bill. These meters catch fire. They know it, and they are covering it up.1

Utility companies used to send an employee to manually disconnect electricity from a building. With Smart Meters, the company sends a wireless signal to the meter, and it disconnects the electricity. Electricians have told me it takes strength to turn off a house’s electrical power, and wonder what could be so powerful in a plastic Smart Meter to disconnect this current. With disconnection, there can also be arcing.

From Reno, Nevada:

While city fire investigators have been unable to determine exactly what is causing the meters to combust, the electrician who replaces the burned meters said it appears to him that the “relays” inside the meter are overheating at the switch NV Energy uses to remotely disconnect the power.
“That’s where I think the problems are occurring,” he said. “I even saw a couple here where the meters had just started to turn black. Everything in the panel is fine, it’s just the meter is starting to go.”
A forensic investigator hired by the Reno Fire Department to examine four of the meters involved in the Reno and Sparks fires found that the blazes started within the meter itself.2

In 2011, an electrician wrote:

One of the novel features in the new meters is the incorporation of an internal disconnect switch that the power company purports safely disconnects/reconnects power to the dwelling it supplies by remote control. This disconnect feature is a new and significant change to the old style analog meters. The safety of the new disconnect feature is in question.

As a California Electrical Contractor, I estimate that a 200 amp disconnect enclosure would be sized roughly 20″x 20″x 6″, several times larger than a smart meter. Concerned about this, I asked other electrical contractors’ opinions about the remote disconnect switch. Like myself, they found it hard to believe a 100, 200, or 400 amp disconnect switch can be crammed into a tiny meter enclosure.

He asked:

Is there a full load test for the meter disconnect switch?
If a dwelling’s electrical service is rated at 200 amps, the meter has the potential to have a 200 amp load. Are the smart meter disconnects rated for the maximum potential load of the dwelling it serves?
Are the smart meter disconnects tested and certified to safely disconnect/reconnect under full load conditions?3

Is the disconnect switch certified at all? In the new UL 2735 certifications, are meter models certified without the disconnect switch or other components?

Electrical engineer William Bathgate:

After a hard look at the design and construction of this ITRON meter there are the following observations:
The biggest weakness is the power disconnect, it suffers from a small surface area for the disconnect contact and would be prone to excessive heating and likely result in contact pitting and carbon deposits that are not readily visible by the customer and there is not a sensory circuit that could detect it and report it to the customer or the utility. The design would be prone to creating unpredicted fires.4

Electrical engineers evaluated the British Columbia Utility Commission’s draft report on Smart Meter fire safety concerns (Itron Smart Meters) and among their conclusions found:5

A critical item missing in this Report is any investigation and discussion about the meter’s built-in 200 Ampere disconnect switch. The switch is not CSA6 certified, yet it is being used as a “Service Disconnect Switch” – (CSA Code definition), for which it is not designed. Several requests for technical performance and certification data have been ignored by [utility company] BC Hydro and by Itron. The switch is a potential failure mechanism, in particular during fault conditions, because as described elsewhere, the electrical protection on the HV side of the transformer does not appear to adequately protect the electronic meter from excessive fault current. This BCUC Report states that BC Hydro meters do not need to be certified under the Electrical Safety Regulations, however it also states that BC Hydro is NOT exempt from the Electrical Safety Act. An immediate investigation into the design, certification, testing, operation and capabilities of this disconnect switch is required.

British Columbia never finalized its report.

Insurance adjuster Norman Lambe to New Mexico Public Regulatory Commission:

Unlike analog meters, “smart” meters can turn power “on” or “off’ remotely. Sometimes, during activation of this remote switch, a tremendous burst of power can cause arcing in the meter and result in fire. As noted in the report by EFI Global (CFRE NL 3 b p.4), “All observed damage to the electrical panel and the meter itself is consistent with a fire triggered by extreme heat at the defective switch contacts inside the meter. The heat transferred to the metal clips, which were held in position by a resin-based insulator. the extreme heat ignited the insulator. The ensuing fire burned upward inside the panel, explaining the damage to the circuit breaker located directly above it. Open flame conducts electricity, so the flame drew an arc between the two energized power rails in the panel, explaining the unusual arc patterns in the center circuit on the panel, which was not part of the ’HP’ meter circuit.”7

Portland General Electric removed 70,000 Smart Meters after several house fires, saying the disconnect switch was faulty.

In 2015, Quebec began requiring a separation distance of three linear meters between propane tanks and Smart Meters. The rule only applied to Smart Meters. Utility company Hydro Quebec inspected properties to check compliance. “Until your installation has been checked and found to be up to code, the remote service interruption feature will be deactivated.”8

Circuit boards in electric meters

Electrical engineer William Bathgate:

The fact that there is a set of circuit boards in a power meter at all is a large risk. The circuit boards would not be able to withstand a lightning strike or a power surge without an explosive reaction and likely melting of the circuits. This would lead to total destruction of the unit and lead to a possible fire.9

EMSG Inc.:

Circuit boards aren’t invulnerable either. Over time, they experience a great deal of wear and tear that can deteriorate their performance and functionality. Things such as the weather, humidity, age, and even elevation can affect the condition of a board.10

Smart/digital meter circuit boards are not in a climate-controlled, protected space. They are outdoors, exposed to all the elements including sun, extreme hot and cold temperatures, moisture, wind, dust, rain, and snow.

Energy Central:

Look under the plastic covers of any smart device, and you will see a printed circuit board and attachments and wires that should be familiar to anyone in the computer industry. This simple fact should give everyone using this equipment pause. Why would this equipment, whose origins and designs have been forged in a throw-away culture of consumer electrics, be durable enough for the demands of the electric utility? The answer is clear. They aren’t.

…Enter the electronic era. Smart meters are already posting failure rates, anecdotally, in the 5% per annum range. This is ten times the failure rate of the traditional meter, and the lifecycle of the product has barely begun. Each additional device connecting the meter to the mothership also has a failure rate. The stability of the grid can only be as good as the weakest device — yet we don’t know which devices are weak. Selecting products for reliability is now essential, but the tools for making associations between products and reliability are entirely missing.11

Melting solder can create new circuit pathways

Fire and excessive heat can melt solder. This is a circuit board vulnerability. If the solder melts, it can create a new pathway, resulting in a short circuit, and potentially, a fire.

Thinner blades, meters don’t fit sockets, pitting

Bobby Reed, a Texas IBEW business manager and troubleshooter for utility company Oncor was fired by Oncor after he testified to the Texas legislature about Smart Meter fires and electrical problems that were regularly occurring and the risk to electrical workers. The complaint to the National Labor Relations Board12 about his firing detailed evidence that Smart Meter fires, burned Smart Meters, overheating, arcing, burned meter sockets, and malfunctioning Smart Meters are regularly occurring and are known to Oncor and CenterPoint, two Texas utility companies.

What I came to testify about today is when they started installing the AMS meters, I noticed that the tickets that I worked or the work orders that I went out on were beginning to be increasingly of the meters burning up and burning up the meter bases. And it’s kind of a two-issue thing there I wanted to bring up to you.

But I can’t tell you how many times I went out. And when I go to a low income house where this lady comes out, this elderly woman, that’s widow woman and she says, you know, “What’s the problem?” And I said, “Well, your meter base burnt up, and it’s your equipment and you have to pay for the repairs before you can get your lights back on.” And she tells me, “Well, I’ve been living here for 45 years, and I’ve never had a problem until they installed that meter.” And that just has happened a lot.

When this started to increase–

SEN. CARONA: Do you believe that it is attributable directly to the meter or perhaps the age of the line in a box?

MR. REED: No, it’s the meter. And I’ve read that about the wiring in the box. But the meter is just a little bit bigger than the old analog meter, and especially for an older house, it’s a 100-amp meter base normally. And when you have to set that meter, it’s a little bigger, and the cover won’t go down. So people have to manipulate that meter in order to get the cover to lock.

But when I started noticing this, I called the union there in Houston and asked them if they were experiencing the same thing. And he told me he would go by the meter shop that next day and then call me. And he called me the next day and said that they are experiencing a significant increase in the meters being turned in that are burnt up from the old analog meters to now, the AMS meter.”

Two reasons identified by union workers were the thinner blades in Smart Meters, and that Landis and Gyr Smart Meters were too big for the meter socket.

Smart meters do not fit into the base properly, leaving a gap which leads to arcing and fires. The base was designed and certified to hold an analog and nothing else.

The meters mentioned were Itron and Landis & Gyr. In California, Itron Smart Meters are used by Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas and Electric, and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Landis & Gyr Smart Meters are used by PG&E and Sacramento Municipal Utility District.

The blades of the meters must provide contact with the jaws of the meter socket. If the blades are too thin or the meter isn’t the right size, this causes inadequate contact or gaps, and that will cause arcing. This is a fire hazard and also results in pitting of the metal surface which will increase arcing. Arcing also creates transients which in turn affect the electrical wiring and appliances and electronics.

Sharon Noble, Coalition to Stop Smart Meters BC, has been investigating Smart Meter fires for many years and lobbying the government to take action. In 2014, she wrote,

According to electrical engineers in our group, the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) is quite concerned because the base was certified to hold an analog, not an digital meter running on electricity. CSA said the bases could lose their certification because there has been no testing to ensure that the base and the meter are compatible. Due to the thermal resistance created by the corrosion, the electricity begins to arc and these arcs ignite the main insulation wiring causing electrical shorts that start fires.13

Malfunctioning temperature alarms and sensors

Thermal sensors have actually been installed in some meters to notify utility companies of potential problems or shut off the electricity. However, these have malfunctioned as well.

Engineer William Bathgate: “There are supposed to be sensors of high heat within the meter, but it did not detect the condition at my home [with the burned contacts].”14

Take Back Your Power:15

As reported in a 2013 Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) report,16 some utilities are attempting to mitigate smart meter fire risks by ‘proactive temperature monitoring.’  However, as stated in the ICC report: “The majority of ComEd’s AMI meters (GE) are equipped with temperature sensors and can report their internal temperature on command — [a]though the temperature sensor was not designed for that function. However, a problem with the scans soon made itself known. Apparently, radiofrequencies can enter the meter and cause the temperature sensor to report significantly inaccurate measurements.”

Also, the previously mentioned document17 submitted to the Maryland Public Service Commission in the form of comments contains the following language:
‘T]he meter (BGE uses L&G) burned up despite the sensing device. Although no fire occurred, the safety system failed miserably. “[They] could actually hear the meter sizzling as if something was being fried inside it. “ What this clearly demonstrates is that the remote sensing system the utilities are relying on is hardly foolproof. One can only imagine what would have happened if there had been a real fire.’”

Switching mode power supply surges (SMPS), damaged appliances

A switching mode power supply (SMPS) in the Smart/digital meter constantly converts the incoming alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC) to power the meter and its electronics. This causes surges. These constant surges go into the home or building along the wiring and to all electronics and appliances and their varistors. A varistor in a piece of equipment can take only so many surges before it fails and destroys the motherboard.

Many people have reported damaged or destroyed appliances and electronics after Smart Meter installations. This can occur weeks or many months later.

RF signal and SMPS transients routed onto building wiring

Every electronic component you purchase needs a connection to ground to work. It protects the circuit by routing the currents to ground. On the 3-prong plug for electronics and appliances is the wire for the ground.

The switching mode power supply (SMPS) in electronic devices creates transient voltage. If the SMPS creates transient voltage above 60 Hz, those transients are normally routed to ground, just like surges.

Smart/digital meters create transients but have no ground path. Therefore, there is no way for the meters to shunt the transients to ground.

Electrical engineer William Bathgate:

On examination of typical meters, including ABB, GE, ITRON and Landis+Gyr, and many others they report that, in addition to its RF transmitter, each wireless digital meter also has a component called the ‘switching-mode power supply’ (SMPS) – switching power supply for short. Its function is to ‘step down’ the 240v alternating current (AC) coming in from the utility pole power lines to the 3.3 to 12 volts of direct current (DC) required to run the meter’s digital electronics which record the electricity usage data and send out the various RF transmissions.

The SMPS function emits sharp spikes of millisecond bursts constantly, 24/7. The SMPS on the commonly used Silver Springs Network, OWS 514 NIC model, for instance, which is within the smart meter models widely installed by PG&E and other utilities throughout their territory, has been measured to emit spikes of up to 50,000 Hz and higher. This constant pulsing of high frequencies, in addition to the RF function, is causing not only interference with other electric and electronic equipment in many homes with smart meters installed, but also is causing havoc with biological systems in its field of exposure. 18

A 2010 report by Cindy Sage/Sage Associates and electrical engineer James Biergiel warned

Typical gauge electrical wiring that provides electricity to buildings (60 Hz power) is not constructed or intended to carry high frequency harmonics that are increasingly present on normal electrical wiring…Harmonics are higher frequencies than 60 Hz that carry more energy, and ride along on the electrical wiring in bursts It may be contributing to electrical fires where there is a weak spot (older wiring, undersized neutrals for the electrical load, poor grounding, use of aluminum conductors, etc.). The use of smart meters will place an entirely new and significantly increased burden on existing electrical wiring because of the very short, very high intensity wireless emissions (radio frequency bursts) that the meters produce to signal the utility about energy usage.

… [W]hen the wireless signal is produced in the meter… it boomerangs around on all the conductive components and can be coupled onto the wiring, water and gas lines, etc. where it can be carried to other parts of the residence or building.

It is an over-current condition on the wiring. It produces heat where the neutral cannot properly handle it. The location of the fire does NOT have to be in close proximity to the main electrical panel where the smart meter is installed.

… For fires that are ‘unexplained’ or termed electrical in nature, fire inspectors should check whether smart meters were installed within the last year or so at the main panel serving the buildings. They should question contractors and electricians who may have observed damage from the fire such as damage along a neutral, melted aluminum conductor or other evidence that would imply an overcurrent condition.

… Faulty wiring, faulty grounding or over-burdened electrical wiring may be unable to take the additional energy load.19

Interference with AFCI/GFCI

Wireless signals and transients produced by the Smart/digital meters interfere with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) and arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs). This interference can make them trip or prevent them from tripping20 PG&E reported this in 2011, though they claimed these were “limited problems.”

In 2014, a Masters degree candidate at the University of Texas studied Smart Meter interference with GFCIs.

It has been reported that the RF transmissions from Smart Meters can induce false tripping events on GFCI outlets installed on temporary construction poles…Controlled investigations in the laboratory have shown that the tripping events are repeatable and it has been found that the RF transmissions from the Smart Meter’s wireless radio are likely the cause of the unexpected GFCI tripping events. The tripping is caused through the coupling of the roughly 900 – 930 MHz transmissions into the sense electronics within the GFCI…It was concluded that both radiative and conductive interference was occurring, both of which could completely independently cause the GFCI to trip…Not only could conductive interference occur between the two devices, but the wire used to power the GFCI off of the Smart Meter was acting as an antenna.21

Certified home inspector Jim Hime:

Smart meters are now being installed in my area. Smart meters are starting to trip AFCI’s as reported by 2 electricians I know and work with so far.

As you know, an arc fault breaker looks at an electrical [sine] wave and figures out what’s right and what’s not. When it “see’s” the signature of an arc, it trips. RF (radio frequency) interference has nearly the same electrical signature as an electrical arc.

Guess how the new smart meters talk to the home office? (radio frequency)

Where the electrical panel is located next to the smart meter problems have developed according to my bubba electricians.

This is NOT a builders problem. It is a utility company problem. A builder has no control over a utility company. What can someone do? Write your congressmen and ask that the utility companies go back to the drawing board…22

Moisture, heat, and flammable lithium batteries

Smart/digital meters are not watertight or hermetically sealed.

Ritenburg & Associates Report, October 24, 2014:

After reviewing the information available, we are of the opinion that moisture and contaminants within the Sensus meter has been a major factor in the meter failures and ensuing fires. We have not found any issues with the new meter installation methods and practices… As there is some danger with destructive meter failures and potential resulting fires, we recommend that the existing Sensus Generation 3.3 meters be replaced as soon as possible. As the existing meter fires have had a close relationship to precipitation levels, SaskPower might wish to consider replacement no later than the end of winter and before the spring thaw and spring rains begin. 23

Smart/digital meters use 1-cell lithium batteries for the memory, and gas Smart Meters use lithium batteries for the RF transmission. Lithium batteries are very flammable to water, causing them to catch fire or explode. Since meter cases are not watertight, batteries are exposed to moisture, including humidity and rain. In a fire, the plastic cases and parts of gas and electric Smart/digital meters will melt and burn, exposing the explosive batteries to water. Furthermore, in coastal areas, there is salt in the vapor, and that salty moisture can corrode the batteries. Components on a circuit board will not last; this salt will cause corrosion including to the solder joints. Over time, this will cause bridging, leading to short circuits and circuit board failures.

Lithium batteries are also vulnerable to overheating which will cause them to explode.

Gas AMI/AMR digital meters containing lithium batteries pose additional threats of ignition of gas lines if gas meters catch fire, melt, or explode.

Risks from AMI/AMR water meters

AMI/AMR digital water meters contain lithium batteries and are a fire risk due to their normal proximity to water. These meters are also commonly located in the public rights of way, and can be near trees and vegetation. New water meter pit covers are made of flammable fiberglass instead of dense concrete in order for the RF signal to pass. These covers and meter plastic components would be destroyed in an externally originating fire or a meter fire.

Water lines could be ruptured if water meters catch fire or explode. If that happens, water pressure and water availability to fight fires will be compromised. This may already have happened in fires.

Analog electromechanical and water and gas flow meters do not contain these ignition sources.

UL certification of meter models that cause fires

In 2012, Underwriters Laboratory said:

UL has a program for Listing of Utility Meters, but since there is no regulation in USA that requires utility meters to be Certified, this is an entirely voluntary program.24

However, the public increasingly raised the issue of no UL certification of Smart Meters especially in light of fires and electrical problems.25

In 2015, MetLabs acknowledged fire hazards and other problems, and announced a new voluntary UL standard for these meters:

In the past, design flaws in smart meter units have been known to cause serious fire hazards and spotty performance. This has caused a lot of concern for utilities and manufacturers of smart meters….To prevent problems like this, a new voluntary safety standard – UL 2735 – has been created for electric utility meters…26

However, doubts have been voiced about this new testing.

Insurance adjuster Norman Lambe told the New Mexico PRC in 2016:27

UL has a new certification standard that is said to have been developed to insure the safety of “smart” meters, UL Standard 2735. But, even this certification is not sufficient. The very meters that have received this certification, Sensus and Landis & Gyr, have caused fires.

For instance, the Smart Meters in Saskatchewan that caused fires were sent for certification, and “…the Sensus meters passed all safety tests under the UL 2735 Standard for Safety for Electric Utility Meters, which test resistance to flame, water, temperature swings and exposure to various voltages and other extreme operating conditions.”28

Underwriters Laboratory and other certification companies may remove the remote disconnect switch and other components before testing. These companies may test components individually, not as a complete meter. Meters may only be tested in a laboratory and in isolation, not under “real world” conditions — being connected to a building, in an analog-certified socket, in a mesh network, PLC, or cellular system, and as part of a bank of meters.

Continued in Part 3

1 California Public Utilities Public Participation Hearing (PPH), December 20, 2012, Santa Rosa, From the official transcript
http://www.scribd.com/doc/118148663/CPUC-PPH-Santa-Rosa-Transcript

2 https://www.rgj.com/story/news/2014/09/21/reno-smart-meter-fires-widespread-first-feared/15897355/

3 http://1hope.org/hopeblog/unknown-safety-of-smartmeters-new-disconnect-switch/
Unknown Safety of New On-Off Switch in Smart Meters:
CPUC Meter Safety Testing Confirmation Needed.

4 http://www.stopsmartmetersbc.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Evaluation-of-the-ITRON-Open-Way-AMI-Meter-PowerPoint-by-William-Bathgate-Jan.12-2017-v8-3-2-2017.pdf

http://www.stopsmartmetersbc.com/bcuc-smart-meter-fires-the-failure-to-protect/
Cited in http://tinyurl.com/SMFireReport p. 34

5 http://www.stopsmartmetersbc.com/bcuc-smart-meter-fires-the-failure-to-protect/
http://tinyurl.com/SMFireReport p. 77

6 Canadian Standards Association

7 http://www.electronicsilentspring.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/nl.pdf — p. 8

8 http://ofsys.hydroquebec.com/T/OFSYS/SM2/2/S/F/4947/13087532/Dnm3qyNW.html

9 http://www.stopsmartmetersbc.com/bcuc-smart-meter-fires-the-failure-to-protect/
http://tinyurl.com/SMFireReport
p. 34

10 http://emsginc.com/resources/5-most-common-pcb-repairs/

11 https://www.energycentral.com/c/iu/dirty-little-secret-smart-devices-are-consumer-electronics

12 NLRB Decision and Order: http://apps.nlrb.gov/link/document.aspx/09031d4582177a1a
Bobby Reed’s Senate testimony is on p. 13-14

13 http://marylandsmartmeterawareness.org/smart-meter-news/maryland-smart-meter-awareness-and-anne-arundel-county-environmental-council-request-moratorium-on-all-smart-meter-installations-in-wake-of-house-fires/

14 https://mi-psc.force.com/sfc/servlet.shepherd/version/download/068t0000001UX3MAAW

15 https://takebackyourpower.net/smart-meter-fire-risk-liability-is-undeniable-and-unprecedented/

16 https://skyvisionsolutions.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/icc-smart-meter-fires-staff-report-2013.pdf

17 https://skyvisionsolutions.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/comments-on-meter-fires-from-msma-final.pdf

18 https://www.defiltersllc.com/new-critical-problem-with-smart-meters/

New Critical Problem with ‘Smart’ Meters — Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Opt-Out, William Bathgate

19 http://eon3emfblog.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/Wireless-Smart-Meters-and-Potential-for-Electrical-Fires.pdf

Wireless Smart Meters and Potential for Electrical Fires, Cindy Sage, Sage Associates and James J. Biergiel, EMF Electrical Consultant, July 2010

20 https://skyvisionsolutions.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/pge-gfci-and-afci-rf-interference.jpg

21 https://rc.library.uta.edu/uta-ir/bitstream/handle/10106/24887/Donahue_uta_2502M_12842.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

“The Study of the Effect of Smart Meter RF Transmissions on Ground Fault
Circuit Interrupters” Simon Donahue, December 2014, University of Texas

22 https://forum.nachi.org/t/smart-meters-tripping-afcis/63603

“Smart Meters tripping AFCIs”, Jim Hime, October 2011, InterNational Association of Certified Home Inspectors

23 http://www.saskatchewan.ca/~/media/news release backgrounders/2014/oct/3 ritenburg final report.pdf

CIC SaskPower Smart Meter Program: Electrical Fire Investigation and Review, Ritenburg and Associates, Ltd., October 24, 2014 (p. 3, 26)

24 http://www.psc.state.fl.us/Files/PDF/Utilities/Electricgas/SmartMeters/09_20_2012/WorkshopComments/MaredyHanford.pdf — p. 4

Correspondence with Mike Chan, Underwriters Laboratory, Sept 24, 2012 (emphasis added)

25http://www.smartgridtoday.com/public/ComEd-asks-GE-to-get-UL-seal-based-on-consumer-expectations.cfm link no longer works

26 http://www.metlabs.com/blog/meters/new-ul-2735-electric-utility-meter-standard-ensures-safety-and-performance/ (emphasis added)

New UL 2735 Electric Utility Meter Standard Ensures Safety and Performance

Posted in https://smartmeterharm.org/2016/01/05/international-lab-says-smart-meter-design-flaws-known-to-cause-serious-fire-hazards/

27 http://www.electronicsilentspring.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/nl.pdf (emphasis added)

28 https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/sensus-smart-meters-pass-ul-safety-tests-but-fire-concerns-remain

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Report on fire and electrical hazards of “Smart” and other digital meters – Part 2

Report on fire and electrical hazards of “Smart” and other digital meters – Part 1

This version can be translated with the translation tool available on this site.

OVERVIEW:
Fire and Electrical Hazards from ‘Smart’, Wireless, PLC, and Digital Utility Meters – Part 1

Nina Beety
July, 2019
PDF of full report

In the last twelve+ years, utility companies have launched major roll-outs of electronic digital meters across the United States and globally for electric, natural gas, and water service. These meters include wireless transmitting Smart or AMI Meters, AMR meters and ERTs, and powerline communication (PLC, BPL) meters.

Due to meter design and function, these digital meters can malfunction in several ways. Electric digital meters can allow surges and overvoltage to flow into buildings which can burn wiring and destroy appliances and electronics. They can interfere with arc and ground fault circuit interrupters. Meters have exploded and have caused fires, and they have likely contributed to the severity of other fires. Some of the fires have resulted in the deaths of people and their pets. Water and gas AMI/AMR/digital meters pose additional hazards.

These problems are known to the industry, regulatory commissions, some fire officials, the news media, and insurance companies, and were the subject of a dispute before the National Labor Relations Board. This paper is on known problems with meters used in the U.S. and Canada, but electrical problems and fires are occurring internationally.

Australia, Daily Telegraph, March 1, 2012

The state’s electrical union fears someone will have to die before safety concerns about controversial smart meters are addressed. The Electrical Trades Union has repeated demands to suspend the rollout until power companies commit to mounting all meters on flame-resistant boards. But the Government and suppliers are adamant the units aren’t a fire risk and are safer than those they replaced. Energy Safe Victoria is investigating claims power surges are causing smart meters to explode.1

“Our experience has shown that these issues are systemic in the industry and we are committed to delivering solutions that help our customers to overcome these challenges,” said Sensus President Randy Bays in 2014.2 Sensus manufacturers Smart Meters.

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), 2012:3

We are seeing a spate of reports from around the United States—and indeed around the world—of fires believed to have been caused by smart meters that were faulty, incorrectly installed, or connected to circuits where there were unfortunate and unforeseen effects. This appears to be not just a matter of freak incidents that may or may not have taken place here or there… Obviously all companies with smart meter programs, and all their suppliers and sub-contractors, are going to have to take a close look at the issue of fire hazards. This is just the beginning of a difficult story. Companies installing smart meters already have run into a lot of consumer push-back because of concerns about privacy, security, and–sometimes–higher rather lower electricity costs. The last thing the smart grid needs is meters causing fires.

Utility companies and regulatory commissions have publicly denied these problems. Fire and electrical risks have not been disclosed to the public. In California, the California Public Utilities Commission refused to release results of a 2013 preliminary investigation on Smart Meter fires and declined to investigate further. California fire officials have yet to launch a public investigation despite continuing problems.

These electrical problems (with page numbers) include:

  • Lack of surge protection 3
  • No direct path to ground 3
  • National Electrical Code 240 violation 9
  • No Protective Device Coordination Study 10
  • “Catastrophic failure” – a new meter failure mode 11
  • Overheating 12
  • Inferior materials 12
  • Burned meter-to-meter-box contacts 13
  • Faulty remote disconnect switch 14
  • Arcing 14, 17
  • Circuit boards in electric meters 16
  • Melting solder can create new circuit board pathways 17
  • Meters don’t fit sockets 17
  • Thinner blades 17
  • Pitting 17
  • Malfunctioning temperature alarms and sensors 19
  • Switching mode power supply (SMPS) surges and appliance damage 19
  • RF signal and SMPS transients routed onto building wiring 20
  • Interference with AFCIs/GFCIs 21
  • Moisture, heat, and flammable Lithium batteries 22
  • Risks from AMI/AMR water meters 23
  • UL certification of meter models that cause fires 23
  • Flawed FCC requirements and testing 24
  • Inadequate worker qualifications and training, poor installation quality 25
  • Vulnerability to hacking 27
  • Danger due to meter location 28
  • Vibration and heat in building materials from RF emissions 29
  • Accelerated corrosion 29
  • Violation of FCC Grants of Equipment Authorization 29

Related issues:

  • Removal of meters from fire scenes 30
  • Hampered investigations 30
  • Non-specific and inadequate fire coding 33
  • Punished whistleblowers – Bobby Reed, Don Baker, Patrick Wrigley 33
  • Problems undercounted due to lack of proper investigation 33
  • Elimination of monthly inspections by meter readers 34
  • Increasing terpenes in surrounding trees due to stress 34
  • Inaction from fire safety administrators 34
  • Inaction from regulatory agencies; exemptions and loopholes 36
  • News media censorship and failure to investigate 37
  • Regulatory commission defense of Smart Meter program 37
  • Unsafe time-of-use rates 41
  • Utility company lack of transparency and misinformation 41
  • Insurance industry silence 43

In the U.S., common names for these meters include Smart, AMI (advanced metering infrastructure), AMR (automated meter reading), PLC (powerline communication), BPL (broadband over powerline), and ERT (encoder receiver transmitter). I use “Smart” or “digital” to describe these meters. Common electric meter brands used in California by investor owned utilities (IOUs) and municipal utility districts are Landis & Gyr, GE/Aclara (Aclara acquired GE’s electric meter division in 2015), and Itron.

Surges, surge protection, and grounding

Surges in the electrical current flowing through power lines can be caused by lightning strikes, power lines touching (eg. during windstorms, from falling branches, or when a pole is knocked down), malfunctioning transformers or other electrical equipment, disconnection and reconnection of power, arcing, fires on the lines, momentary connection losses, and other electrical problems.

Cyber-security expert Cynthia Ayres also told the Michigan legislature:

It should be noted that massive surges (with much greater effects than weather related or other types of flow interruptions) are associated with severe space weather (geomagnetic storms caused by coronal mass ejections from the sun) and electromagnetic pulse (EMP) associated with high–altitude nuclear explosions – both of which have been known to cause arching [sic] and fires.4

Without protection, surges can flow into a building, destroying wiring and appliances, and start a fire. This can happen in seconds.

Detroit, March 17, 2017:

A 95-year-old grandmother died this week after she was rushed to the hospital after power was restored to the family’s home and a surge started a fire.

Reginald Hollman said after last week’s powerful storm, his family home lost power. When power was restored, he said a surge rushed through home, starting a massive fire.5

Traditional analog electromechanical electric meters have a ground connection as well as surge protection which is based on spark-gap technology (like a spark plug).6 The spark gap functions like a circuit breaker and protects the house from surges and overvoltage conditions. The analog electric meter clips to a pair of semi-circular metal rings that is connected to the meter box. These are connected to a neutral wire, then to a grounding rod which is in the ground. Spark gap technology allows current that exceeds a set threshold – generally 450 volts — to “jump the gap”, and the voltage is conducted to the ground. This spares the meter, the building, the building’s wiring, and the plugged-in electronics from damage and fire. One engineer told me that a particular analog meter model would entirely disconnect power to the house if a surge was present and reset on the next half-cycle (within a few milliseconds) once the surge was gone.

The 1973 patent7 for an overvoltage surge arrestor for GE meters by Ansell Palmer is an example of this technology.

Electric Power Research Institute, 2010:

Electromechanical meters had no digital circuitry. They utilized spark-gap to control the location of arc-over and to dissipate the energy of typical voltage events. As a result, they were generally immune to standard surge events. This nature is evidenced in the section of ANSI C12.1 that specifies voltage surge testing, but allows that ‘This test may be omitted for electromechanical meters and registers.”8

This sophisticated spark-gap technology has worked for decades, protecting buildings from overvoltage conditions. Even with lightning strikes, analog meters with this technology have survived and protected their buildings. And this technology works repeatedly without damage to the meter, because there are no electronic components to wear out. In the case of a home that survived two lightning strikes (up to 30 million volts), the home and the meter were fine, because the surge went to ground.

New Smart/AMI/AMR/digital meters do not have this surge protection and do not have a connection to the ground.9 See Appendix A photos comparing the back of an analog meter with the back of an AMI meter.

Instead, meter manufacturers put a varistor – a voltage dependent resistor, or variable resistor — on the digital meter circuit board.

All electronics have varistors. When there is an increase in voltage, the varistor will increase the resistance of the circuit to try to dampen the amount of voltage going across the lead. Voltage exceeding the varistor’s limit (300-350 volts) will cause the varistor to explode, ruining the circuit board and the appliance or electronic equipment.

However, with a Smart/digital meter, when the varistor blows out, the current from the utility pole, including high voltage current, will flow directly into the building if any appliances or electronics are drawing power, and many of today’s electronics and appliances are always on. The results can be burned wiring, damaged electronics and equipment, including well pumps, and fires.

“Varistors are useful for short duration protection in case of high transient voltage surges in the order of 1-1000 microseconds. They are however not suited to handle sustained surges. If a transient pulse energy in joules (J) is too high and significantly exceeds the absolute maximum ratings, they can melt, burn or explode.”10

Electrical engineer William Bathgate:

This small electronic part cannot withstand more than a 300 Volts AC surge. The part will explode when a line voltage surge exceeds this limit, such as when a tree branch touches the high voltage lines or lightning strike occurs nearby. Once this Varistor explosion has occurred it permits high voltage transfer to the other circuit board components and the circuit board substrate. This results in the AMI meter literally exploding from the meter socket or in a severe melting of the plastic components, likely leading to a fire and/or severe home damage. Most customers that comment when this occurs say they hear a load pop or a boom, followed by lights flickering, and followed by arcing at the meter housing. This is not how a circuit board should be protected…There is no sound electronic engineering firm that would permit 240 volts AC to short circuit across the circuit boards due to a component failure such as a Varistor. This is extremely dangerous. Once the progression of the subsequent short circuit begins the line transformer will apply up to 2,000 Amps to the meter housing until either the feed lines to the home disintegrate and vaporize or the transformer line breaker/fuse trips out after 50 seconds. By this time the damage is so extensive it is jeopardizing human and animal life. No such condition is possible from an Analog Meter.11

If a tree or branch falls across the lines and causes a high voltage line to contact a lower voltage utility line, much higher voltages can flow down the line into a building. And lightning strikes are about 30 million volts.

Electric meter testing company TESCO, 2015: 12

“Electronic meters fail as do electromechanical meters but differently.”

New failure modes include “Power supply damage due to lightning surges and other causes”.

The fire department cannot get there in time once this chain of events starts because it happens so fast.

Repeated surges up to the meter varistor’s maximum threshold will weaken the varistor and eventually destroy it, also allowing unregulated current to flow into the building.

Fire Chief Duane Roddy testified to the Michigan House Energy Committee in 2017 that he watched a Smart Meter ignite and arc at his home from a surge.13 The electricity kept flowing and arcing, melting the lines to his house, and didn’t stop until the transformer on the pole blew, and then the fuse on the pole finally tripped. In Pacific Grove, California, PG&E crews shut off power to repair a transformer. When they re-connected the power, they heard a popping sound, and a nearby building’s Smart Meter and panel caught fire.14

This situation is similar to the 60 cent bolt that fails and brings down an airplane

Circuit breakers inside a house or building do not protect from outside electrical problems or incoming surges from the power lines. If an overage comes from the street or from the meter, the building’s circuit breakers will not trip. Circuit breakers in a building only protect from inside electrical problems.

When a varistor explodes, it makes a popping sound.

Branches and trees fell on lines in the California North Bay fires, causing contact between higher voltage and lower voltage lines. Lines caught fire from the high voltage current. This high voltage current was flowing into homes, blowing out the varistors. Automatic restarters kept re-energizing the lines, keeping this high voltage current flowing and also sending repeated surges down lines into buildings, intensifying the problem – a particular problem with PG&E’s system. Smart Meters could have malfunctioned in very significant numbers and actually caused many of the building fires.

East Palo Alto, Stockton, Summerland, Ontario, and Forest, Ontario are a few incidents when many Smart Meters failed simultaneously and spectacularly due to a surge.

Stockton, March 30, 2015:

The smart meters were unable to handle the surge and exploded. Some of the explosions were serious, others were not.

…Stockton fire Capt. Bryan Carr with Engine 6, one of several fire crews dispatched Monday morning as dozens of electric customers began reporting explosions, smoke or the smell of burning wires, described the scene as “unreal” when his engine pulled onto Fairbury Lane, a residential street in southeast Stockton… His best estimate was that 50 or 60 homes had some type of significant electrical damage.15
(GE and Landis & Gyr Smart Meters)

Summerland, British Columbia, Nov. 26, 2014:

69 Smart Meters damaged, and some blew off buildings.16
(Itron Smart Meters)

Forest, Ontario, Nov. 7, 2013:

60-70 Smart Meters explode due to winds at Fairview Court Apartments.

Don Plowright, who lives with his wife in the Fairview Court Apartments, says the meters sustained a lot of damage. “Some of them blew right off and hit one of the windows,” he remarks. “Ours was all blackened. The people next to us, the meter was blown right off and the wires were sticking out.”
…Apparently, this was a totally new experience for Hydro One crews. ‘They were really surprised. They said that they’d never had anything like this happen before…’

 Hydro One employee Ron Core, one of the crew members onsite, says the surge was caused when a 16,000 volt line landed on a 2,000 volt line during the high winds last Thursday, blowing one transformer and destroying the Smart Meters. 

… When [the meters] were installed at his former residence, Plowright says, “The guy that looked after that say they’re not very good. Most of the old ones were made in Canada. These are made in China and they’re not made to stand up to real rough weather. He didn’t think much of them.” The meters are manufactured by a company called Landis + Gyr…17

East Palo Alto, Aug. 25, 2011:

When Pacific Gas and Electric turned the power back on, the surge blew up a number of smart meters in homes. More than 80 fires were reported, and a number of home appliances were damaged. Homes that did not yet have the smart meters installed reported no problem.18

Television sets and lights popped and and blew out in two East Palo Alto neighborhoods after a power surge Thursday night..19

…The sustained electrical surge to more than 200 East Palo Alto homes and businesses lasted for about one hour and 20 minutes, until a PG&E crew shut off the power, according to a Menlo Park Fire Protection District incident report… Palo Alto utilities spokeswoman Debbie Katz said that surges have not burned out the city’s analog meters…. “The idea with SmartMeters is to make the customers’ and the utility’s life better, but this is a good example of how sometimes the old way is the good way,” Katz said.20
(GE and Landis & Gyr Smart Meters)

Mindy Spatt, communications director of The Utility Reform Network (TURN):

In the collective memory of TURN, we have not seen similar incidents with analog meters.21

Along with other utility companies in California, Pacific Gas and Electric instituted a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) policy during extreme fire danger conditions to de-energize both transmission and distribution lines. PG&E in particular began activating this with little advance warning to officials of affected communities which caused problems.22 However, re-energizing electrical lines after power shut-offs will cause power surges, and these surges will hit all the Smart Meters in the area. No one is talking about this risk or the potential impact on well pumps and water availability.

National Electrical Code violation

National Electrical Code Section 240.4:

240.4 Protection of Conductors. Conductors, other than flexible cords, flexible cables, and fixture wires, shall be protected against overcurrent in accordance with their ampacities specified in 310.15, unless otherwise permitted or required in 240.4(A) through (G)23

All electrical components must be protected by a circuit breaker.

The NEC also says:

Article 230 Services
VII. Service Equipment – Overcurrent Protection
230.90 Where Required. Each ungrounded service conductor shall have overload protection.

Article 240 Overcurrent Protection
240.15 Ungrounded Conductors.
(A) Overcurrent Device Required. A fuse or an overcurrent trip unit of a circuit breaker shall be connected in series with each ungrounded conductor. A combination of a current transformer and overcurrent relay shall be considered equivalent to an overcurrent trip unit.24

Analog meters are grounded; they are directly connected to the ground via spark-gap technology, protected from surges. Smart/digital meters are not grounded.

Utility companies were granted an exemption from 240.4 when they were using analog meters, not electronic devices. Now however, utility companies have replaced analog meters with electronic Smart/digital meters and haven’t made any provision for that change by installing a circuit breaker. When there’s a surge, it goes directly to the Smart/digital meter’s circuit board with potentially catastrophic results.

Since utility companies changed the nature of the meter, did not put in a circuit breaker, and have not revised the situation with the regulating body, they could be found in violation of the terms of the National Electrical Code exemption.

Electrical Engineer Tony Simmons:25

I am a retired Electrical Engineer licensed in Nevada and California. I have 11 years’ experience in electric utility meter operations ..The problem is meters and sockets are NOT known to be properly protected with the correct fuse.

All electrical equipment is expected to fail eventually. The question is not “does it create a hazard If it fails”; the question is “does it create a hazard when it fails”. The answer depends on the rating of the fuse protecting the meter and socket.

The first instruction [below] is to use fuses. The second instruction is to not use the meter (as) a protective device – don’t rely on the remote switch as a safety feature.
(from the [Itron] manual)

“All voltage paths (measurement and auxiliary) must be fused.

Do not use any meter functions or features for primary protection purposes.

Do not install the meter where failure of the device could cause death, injury or release sufficient energy to start a fire.”

… The more practical solution is use the correct fuse to protect the meter and socket as ITRON indirectly instructs. This is where the electric utility industry went wrong. Big time.

If the utilities were required to install a circuit breaker outside the meter — between meter and building – the costs would have been substantial, and utility companies likely wouldn’t have been able to make their business cases to the state regulatory commissions. In addition, the public would have raised safety questions about the new meters versus the analog meters, and refused to fund them.

In addition, master disconnect switches for buildings are often located next to electric meters. A meter fire makes it impossible for emergency responders to access the switch and turn off the electricity to a building. Electricity has to be disconnected at the pole by the utility company, resulting in a dangerous delay. This is another serious safety problem that is not addressed in state and local electrical codes.

No Protective Device Coordination Study

Electrical engineer Tony Simmons:26

The utilities failed to perform the industry standard Protective Device Coordination Study. This study is also called the Short Circuit Coordination Study or mostly commonly, the coordination study.

Coordinated Power Engineering Inc.27

A Short Circuit and Coordination Study is critical for the safe, efficient, and economical operation of any electrical distribution system. A Short Circuit Study will help to ensure that personnel and equipment are protected by establishing proper interrupting ratings. When an electrical fault exceeds the interrupting rating of the protective device, the consequences can be devastating, including injury, damaged electrical equipment, and costly downtime. A Coordination Study maximizes power system selectivity by isolating faults to the nearest protective device, as well as helping to avoid nuisance operations that are due to transformer inrush or motor starting operations.

[National Fire Protection Association] NFPA 70B maintains that a Short Circuit and Coordination Study is a very important, yet sometimes overlooked step after the initial design and before the implementation of an electrical distribution system. The [National Electrical Code] NEC addresses the importance of this type of study in articles 110-9, 110-10, 240, and 517.17. It is clear that a third-party, independent study performed during/after the equipment submittal process, can prove to be invaluable. A Short Circuit and Coordination Study serves to incorporate all the system changes that come about after the initial design.

Smart and digital meters were not a part of the initial electrical power system design.

New failure mode – “catastrophic” failure

Electric Power Research Institute:

The average person may have experienced a broken-down car, a worn-out appliance, or a piece of electrical equipment that died in a lightening[sp] storm, but most don’t likely recall their electricity meter ever failing. Such is the reliable legacy of the electromechanical meter.

By anyone’s assessment, traditional electromechanical meters are an amazing piece of engineering work. Refined over a hundred years, the design of a standard residential electricity meter became an impressive combination of economy, accuracy, durability, and simplicity.28

According to industry experts, Smart/digital meters are subject to new failure modes, One of these new failure modes is catastrophic failure. Analog electromechanical meters do not have this failure mode.

From a presentation by TESCO in 2015:

Electronic Meters – new failure modes require new testing and inspection methods

Electronic meters fail as do electromechanical meters but differently.
– Their overall life expectancy is not nearly the same
– Failure modes include drift (unexpected)
– Failure modes include catastrophic (expected)
– Power supply damage due to lightning surges and other causes…”29

The Saskatchewan government launched an investigation after a series of Smart Meter fires. “Eight meters failed catastrophically, melting or burning, and in some cases damaging the sides of houses.”30 The report stated:

A catastrophic failure has been defined by the consultants and industry as a meter which has burnt, melted, blackened, caught fire, arced, sparked, or exploded/blown from the premises.31

Overheating, inferior materials

Digital/Smart meters have electronics inside which create heat. Analog meters do not have electronic components which generate heat.

“The electronics inside smart meters typically employ metal-oxide varistors (MOVs) for overvoltage surge protection.  The problem arises from the lack of the heavy heat sinking capacity of the MOVs.  This is needed in order to avoid failure due to overheating when they are energized.  The physical construction of the smart meters does not allow for the heat generated by the energized MOVs to escape into the environment as there are few metal parts to act as a heat sink.  Under the right conditions of over-voltage and line impedance, it may be possible to cause the MOV to burst into flames.32 The Fire Marshal’s report33from Ontario, Canada noted overheating and fires associated with MOVs.”34

Norman Lambe, a California insurance adjuster, has investigated fire-related Smart Meter incidents. In 2015, he said that overheating is a primary cause of these fires. He said the meters spark and make too much heat when they operate, and the materials within the meters are flammable in the right heat conditions.35

Today’s meters are light.  The old ones were heavy and dissipated heat a lot better, actually,” said Ken Dimpfl, manager of meter engineering with American Electric Power (AEP), while discussing temperature data analytics at Utility Analytics Week in New Orleans.36

The UK East Sussex Fire Service reports: “[T]he amount of current being drawn is an important factor, since the greater the current, the higher the risk of resistance heating in a poor connection.”37

Burned meter-to-meter-box connections

Engineer William Bathgate’s Smart Meter was installed in 2015. By 2017, due to network malfunctions, the utility company wasn’t receiving the meter’s wireless data transmissions, so they started sending him estimated bills. He decided to opt-out.

When the AMI meter was removed. I discovered that the one set of contacts had all burned up from excessive heat.

This was a new meter box in 2015 and in use for about 2 years. It could have easily led to a meter fire without warning. If I had not changed my meter, I would never have known there was a problem. How many other meter boxes are at risk with the same conditions today? The only way we will know is when we begin to see more meter fires. Unfortunately once a fire begins at the meter contacts all evidence of the root cause are near impossible to determine. The utility concludes without any evidence that the meter fire occurred due to customer wiring. Had I known that placing an AMI meter on my home would lead to burned contacts on my home, I would never have permitted its installation.38

Continued in Part 2

1 http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/more-news/smart-meter-death-fears/story-fn7x8me2-1226285463342

2 http://globalnews.ca/news/1489707/manufacturer-defends-smart-meters-after-fires/ August 3, 2014, citing Sensus press release

3 http://spectrum.ieee.org/energywise/energy/the-smarter-grid/smart-meter-fire-reports

4 Testimony to Michigan House Energy Committee March 7, 2017
https://smartgridawareness.org/2017/03/12/expert-testimony-retain-analog-systems/

5 http://www.fox2detroit.com/news/local-news/242346844-story link no longer works,

6 http://www.google.ca/patents/US3735259

7 http://www.google.ca/patents/US3735259

8 https://skyvisionsolutions.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/epri_-accuracy-of-digital-meters.pdf
“Accuracy of Digital Electricity Meters”, Electric Power Research Institute, May 2010, p.7

9 For example, http://www.freedom2sayno2smartmeters.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Evaluation-of-the-Aclara-I-210C-AMI-Meter-v1.3.pdf

p. 5-6, Evaluation of the Aclara I-210+C AMI Meter, William Bathgate, May 30, 2018
(Aclara purchased GE AMI division)

10 http://www.resistorguide.com/varistor/

11 https://mi-psc.force.com/sfc/servlet.shepherd/version/download/068t0000001UX3MAAW
Testimony of William Bathgate, 8/29/17, Michigan Public Service Commission

12 Tom Lawton at 2015 conference sponsored by the Edison Electric Institute (EEI). http://web.archive.org/web/20151123003953/http://www.slideshare.net/bravenna/site-verification-and-its-role-in-asset-management http://www.eei.org/about/meetings/Meeting_Documents/FINAL – Metering Agenda-LaJolla.pdf
http://smartgridawareness.org/2015/11/03/catastrophic-failures-expected-with-smart-meters/

13 https://youtu.be/qhQGmP_ixJw?t=2853 47:33 – 52:16
Michigan House Energy Committee February 21, 2017 (Fire Chief Roddy’s testimony was not reported by the Detroit News)

14 Incident report, January 22, 2012; https://cedarstreettimes.com/weekend-fire-puts-favaloros-out-of-commission/

15CBS 13 http://scoopfeed.net/2015/04/05/stockton-ca-smart-meters-explode-after-truck-causes-power-surge/ link no longer works

http://www.recordnet.com/article/20150330/NEWS/150339956/101007/A_NEWS

16 http://www.stopsmartmetersbc.com/z/2014-12-14-power-surge-in-summerland-were-meters-involved/

http://globalnews.ca/video/1724887/summerland-still-dealing-with-november-power-surge-fall-out video is missing

17 Forest Standard, November 7, 2013 (emphasis added)

18 CBS 13 http://scoopfeed.net/2015/04/05/stockton-ca-smart-meters-explode-after-truck-causes-power-surge/ (emphasis added) link no longer works

19 http://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/2011/08/25/power-surge-pops-lights-televisions-in-east-palo-alto

20 http://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/2011/09/04/power-surge-raises-questions-about-smartmeters (emphasis added)

21 ibid

22 California Department of Public Health’s county and city health officers heard a presentation June 6, 2019. It discussed the problems with PSPS as well as PG&E specific problems, which include PG&E’s practice of sending public relations people to talk to local officials when there is a problem.
https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CCLHO/Pages/CCLHOBoardofDirectors.aspx June 6, 2019

23 National Electrical Code (2008)

24 ibid

25 http://www.stopsmartmetersbc.com/bcuc-smart-meter-fires-the-failure-to-protect/
http://tinyurl.com/SMFireReport
p. 32-33

26 http://www.stopsmartmetersbc.com/bcuc-smart-meter-fires-the-failure-to-protect/
http://tinyurl.com/SMFireReport
p. 33

27 www.cpeinc.net/PDFs/SCCCspecs.pdf (emphasis added)

28 “Accuracy of Digital Electricity Meters”, Electric Power Research Institute, May 2010

29 Slide from presentation by TESCO representative Tom Lawton at 2015 conference sponsored by the Edison Electric Institute (EEI). TESCO (The Eastern Specialty Company) is an electric meter testing equipment and services company. (emphasis added)
http://web.archive.org/web/20151123003953/http://www.slideshare.net/bravenna/site-verification-and-its-role-in-asset-management http://www.eei.org/about/meetings/Meeting_Documents/FINAL – Metering Agenda-LaJolla.pdf
http://smartgridawareness.org/2015/11/03/catastrophic-failures-expected-with-smart-meters/

30 http://www.saskatchewan.ca/~/media/news release backgrounders/2014/oct/1 cic introduction.pdf p.2

http://www.saskatchewan.ca/~/media/news release backgrounders/2014/oct/2 pwc final report.pdf p.3

31 http://www.saskatchewan.ca/~/media/news release backgrounders/2014/oct/3 ritenburg final report.pdf

http://www.saskatchewan.ca/government/news-and-media/2014/october/27/smart-meter-review
CIC Smart Meter Review Makes Recommendations to Improve Crown Procurement

The head of the provincial utility SaskPower resigned after these reports were released.

32 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Varistor

33 https://skyvisionsolutions.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/firemarshall-report-smart-meter-fires-canada.pdf
“Utility “Smart Meters’”, Ontario Fire Marshall Armen Kassabian, June 15, 2012

34 https://takebackyourpower.net/smart-meter-fire-risk-liability-is-undeniable-and-unprecedented/

35 http://www.naturalnews.com/055227_smart_meters_catching_fire_safety_risks.html#ixzz4JiYE2Q2R

36 http://smartgridawareness.org/2015/11/03/catastrophic-failures-expected-with-smart-meters/

37 Investigation Report into: Fires Originating in Electrical Intakes, Mark Hobbs, Lead Fire Investigation Officer, East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service, UK, July 2010

38 https://mi-psc.force.com/sfc/servlet.shepherd/version/download/068t0000001UX3MAAW (emphasis added)

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Report on fire and electrical hazards of “Smart” and other digital meters – Part 1

Alert: U.S. military Red Flag exercises Jan. 25 – Feb.12, 2021; letter to Surgeon General calls for a halt

The next Pentagon Red Flag exercise runs January 25 to February 12 from the Nevada Test and Training Range and Nellis Air Force Base. Manilo Dinucci reported in June [1] that the Nellis 5G network would be fully operational and an active component of this year’s exercises.

At Red Flag 2021, 5G relocatable cell towers, that can be set up and taken down in less than an hour, will be probably already operating to be tested in a real environment. Nellis base is the fifth base selected by the Pentagon to test the military use of 5G: the others are located in Utah, Georgia, California and Washington State.

5G will allow the entire command and control system of the United States armed forces to be strengthened worldwide..

5G will play a decisive role particularly in the use of hypersonic weapons which travel at speeds exceeding 10 times that of sound also equipped with nuclear warheads.

5G will also be extremely important for secret services, making control and intelligence systems much more effective than those currently used.

These exercises significantly increase the radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation (RF-EMF) emissions in the U.S. due to radar, communications, GPS jamming, EMF weapons, satellites, and other equipment. The serious health problems experienced throughout the country have included cardiac disorders, severe sleep disruption, microwave hearing, and other neurological problems. RFEMF also impacts the immune system – at a time when Americans need a strong immune system — and is a known carcinogen and causes genetic and DNA damage. In addition, it harms wildlife including bees and other insects, especially 5G millimeter waves.[2]

Due to the environmental and public health hazards, these military exercises must be halted immediately.

I urge you to contact the U.S. Surgeon General and other state and federal officials now.

2021 exercises at the Nevada Test and Training Range:

Red Flag 21-1: 1/25/21 to 2/12/21
Red Flag 21-2: 3/8/21 – 3/19/21
Red Flag 21-3: 7/19/21 – 8/6/21

WSINT – Weapons School Integration

21A 5/24 – 6/17/21
21B 11/22 – 12/16/21

JFEX – Joint Forcible Entry Exercise –

21A – June 12, 2021
21B Dec. 11, 2021

(Dates of exercises from dreamlandresort.com/info/flags.html)

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Letter to U.S. Surgeon General

January 24, 2021

surgeongeneral[at]hhs.gov

To the Surgeon General
Vivek Murthy MD

Dear Dr. Murthy:

Despite the COVID19 disaster, the Pentagon is conducting Red Flag and other military exercises in conjunction with the Nevada Testing and Training Range and Nellis AFB. Red Flag 21-1 is due to begin Jan. 25 and last into February 12.

These exercises negatively affect the public health and the environment by using high levels and far-reaching patterns of EMF emissions for jamming and EMF warfare practices that cover many parts of the United States and may extend into Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean nations. The military have added progressive capabilities to these exercises, to now include their new 5G network in conjunction with satellites.

I urgently request that you halt these exercises immediately in the interest of the public health and welfare, and the security of the nation.

Medical experts and EMF research scientists have warned about the hazards of radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation for years [3]. During past Red Flag exercises, members of the public reported the sudden onset of serious health problems, only to find out that symptoms started when these military exercises began.

These harmful emissions can affect public health in a myriad of ways including heart function, cognition, and cause increased incidence of migraine or headache, seizures, heart arrhythmia, sleep disturbances, skin problems, clicking or ringing in the ears, flu-like symptoms, difficulty breathing, pain, and other health problems. RF-EMF also impacts the Immune system – the last thing the public needs right now – and exposure causes cellular stress, rouleaux formation in the blood, and DNA damage. This will also affect pets and wildlife.

Additional hazards include interference with medical devices including pacemakers, Parkinson’s deep brain implants, and hospital equipment, as well as GPS equipment .

The most vulnerable people are people who are already disabled by electromagnetic sensitivity (EMS) — a functional impairment that occurs from exposure to EMF – or have other EMF-sensitive medical conditions including nerve damage, cancer, heart disorders, amputations or susceptibility to stroke, or those with medical implants or devices. Many of people with EMS are already extremely ill from current levels of RF-EMF, suffering excruciating pain and crippling effects. The cities of Boston and Philadelphia [4] warned in 2013 about the suffering of the EMF-disabled. Based on a 1998 prevalence survey by the California Department of Health Services [5], millions of Americans could be at serious, even life-threatening risk from these drills.

The European Academy of Environmental Medicine released their report “EUROPAEM EMF Guideline 2016 for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of EMF-related health problems and illnesses,”[6] expanding on the 2012 report by the Austrian Medical Association.[7] Have you read these reports?

However, in the 1990s, Congress defunded the EPA’s RF-EMF research and work on developing federal standards, and a recent FOIA request revealed that the last EPA review of literature was in 1984.[8] That is unconscionable and a violation of the public trust.

In 2015, the Canadian Parliament held three days of hearings on the public health hazards created by rising levels of EMF emissions and lax regulations, which the CMAJ reported.[9] And now there are the U.S. National Toxicology Program and Italian Ramazzini Institute results along with older cancer studies that show this radiation is a carcinogen.

The Naval Medical Research compiled a lengthy bibliography[10] in 1972 of studies showing biological effects. Extensive military research for decades has weaponized these effects, including the poppers used in Iraq and the Active Denial System using millimeter waves which causes intense burning sensations. These same millimeter waves are being deployed for 5G.

A COVID variant is causing additional concern for medical professionals. The DNA- and gene-damaging effects of RF-EMF radiation exposure are well known, including CTIA-Wireless Association sponsored research by Dr. Henry Lai, and a study by Belyaev in 1996 finding altered genetic structure in E. Coli bacteria at exposure levels of 0.0000000000001 microwatts per cm2, [11] far below U.S. exposure limits of 1000.0 microwatts per cm2. Increasing the public exposure to RF-EMF makes no sense to any rational person.

I request that you take leadership on this critical matter now and halt these military exercises immediately for this year and the indefinite future to protect the public, the environment, and the national security. The continuance of these exercises risks catastrophic harm and complicates an already difficult and unpredictable medical situation. These experiments are done without any public notification or advance warning, public hearings, environmental review, public input, or full informed consent from the public. The public is shut out of decision-making, despite paying the bill. This must end now.

A CE/CME-accredited virtual EMF Medical Conference (EMFMC) will be held January 28-31 https://emfconference2021.com/ It will cover RF-EMF/wireless radiation health effects. Please inform your staff and the national health officers of this critically important and timely conference. It offers 20.5 hours of CME. Please attend this conference.

Please respond at your earliest to my request.

Sincerely,

Nina Beety

For more information on Red Flag and the 2018 Red Flag drill:

[1] https://www.globalresearch.ca/5g-arms-race/5715138

[2] https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-56948-0.pdf

https://kompetenzinitiative.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/ki_beesbirdsandmankind_screen.pdf

https://8a6b8cd0-359b-4b1b-b042-cdb0cdb8be26.filesusr.com/ugd/2cea04_00d3c4115e824aed85a3047fbb06949f.pdf

[3] For example, www.emfscientist.org, www.biolinitiative.org, www.mdsafetech.org, www.saferemr.com , www.ehtrust.org

[4] https://ecfsapi.fcc.gov/file/7520958706.pdf

[5] https://web.archive.org/web/20040721020821/http://www.dhs.ca.gov/ehib/emf/RiskEvaluation/Appendix3.pdf

[6] https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/reveh.2016.31.issue-3/reveh-2016-0011/reveh-2016-0011.xml

[7] https://electromagnetichealth.org/electromagnetic-health-blog/oak-emf-guidelines/

[8] https://ehtrust.org/research-studies-on-impacts-to-the-environment-from-wireless-trees-plants-pollinators-birds-and-wildlife/

[9] http://www.cmaj.ca/content/187/9/639.full?sid=b5163a9b-bfd0-4810-95a1-1e562107c8bf

[10] http://www.magdahavas.com/2010/07/05/pick-of-the-week-1-more-than-2000-documents-prior-to-1972-on-bioeffects-of-radio-frequency-radiation/

[11] https://www.buergerwelle.de/assets/files/high_level_microwave_concerns.doc?cultureKey= p.8

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Health experts urged states to adopt a free opt-out for Duke Energy customers

In 2017, Dr. David Carpenter MD, Dr. Magda Havas, and Dr. Lennart Hardell wrote letters to each of the utility commissions that oversee Duke Energy (emphasis added).

We, the undersigned, are scientists and health professionals who together have co-authored many peer-reviewed studies on the health effects of radiofrequency radiation (RFR). We are aware that the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio is considering a proposed smart meter opt-out fee from Duke Energy. Smart meters, along with other wireless devices, have created significant public health problems caused by the radiofrequency radiation (RFR) they produce, and awareness and reported problems continue to grow. With Duke Energy being America’s largest utility provider and, consequently, having the largest potential smart meter implementation reach, it is imperative that the [] Commission […] be fully aware of the harm that RFR can cause and allow utility customers to opt out of smart meter installation with no penalty….

[W]e urge the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to reject any fees or tariffs associated with smart meter opt-out and allow citizens to opt out without penalty.

Comparing Smart Meters to cell phones, they said:

Smart meters operate with much more frequent pulses than do cell phones, increasing the potential for adverse health impacts.

Smart meter pulses can average 9,600 times a day, and up to 190,000 signals a day. Cell phones only pulse when they are on.

Cell phone RFR is concentrated, affecting the head or the area where the phone stored, whereas smart meter RFR affects the entire body.

An individual can choose whether or not to use a cell phone and for what period of time. When smart meters are placed on a home the occupants have no option but to be continuously exposed to RFR.

They focused on the problem of electromagnetic sensitivity (EMS) also known as EHS.

While the strongest evidence for hazards coming from RFR is for cancer, there is a growing body of evidence that some people develop a condition called electro-hypersensitivity (EHS). These individuals respond to being in the presence of RFR with a variety of symptoms, including headache, fatigue, memory loss, ringing in the ears, “brain fog” and burning, tingling and itchy skin. Some reports indicate that up to three percent of the population may develop these symptoms, and that exposure to smart meters is a trigger for development of EHS…

There are a number of double-blind studies which clearly show that some people with EHS will develop symptoms when exposure to RFR is studied in a double blinded experimental protocol, in which the subject do not know whether or not the RFR is being applied. These individual are not suffering from a psychosomatic disease, but rather one that is induced by the exposure to RFR.

They emphasized three fundamentals:

The adverse health impacts of low intensity RFR are real, significant and for some people debilitating. We want to stress three fundamentals as your agency proceeds to consider a smart meter opt-out:

The Federal Communication Commission’s safety standards do not apply to low intensity RFR.
There is no safe level of exposure established for RFR.
People around the world are suffering from low intensity RFR exposure, being at increased risk of developing both cancer and EHS.

———————————

Letters February 3, 2017

Authors:

Dr. David Carpenter, MD, (Director, Institute for Health and the Environment, University at Albany, State University of New York)
Dr. Lennart Hardell, MD, PhD (Professor, Department of Oncology, University Hospital, Orebro, Sweden)
Dr. Magda Havas, BSc, PhD (Environmental and Resource Studies, Trent University, Canada)

 

 

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Landmark 5G/wireless study: New Hampshire officials recommend reducing public exposure, education on wireless health effects

Summary from EMF Safety Network
November 5, 2020

The state of New Hampshire established a legislative commission to study the environmental and health effects of 5G wireless technology in 2019.  They recently completed their final report which includes 15 recommendations to raise awareness, educate, promote oversight, and reduce radiofrequency radiation (RF, also known as wireless).

The commission met between September 2019 and October 2020 and included 13 members with backgrounds in physics, engineering electromagnetics, epidemiology, biostatistics, occupational health, toxicology, medicine, public health policy, business, law, and a representative from the wireless industry.

They were tasked with answering 8 questions which included: why the insurance industry has exclusions for RF damages; why cell phone manufacturers have legal advice warning about distance between cell phones and the body; why 1,000’s of peer-reviewed RF studies that show a wide range of health affects, including DNA damage, brain and heart tumors, infertility, and many other ailments, have been ignored by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC); why the FCC guidelines do not account for health effects of wireless; why the FCC RF limits are 100 times higher than other countries; why the FCC is ignoring the World Health Organization (WHO) classification of wireless as a possible carcinogen; why when the world’s leading scientists signed an appeal to protect public health from wireless radiation nothing has been done; and why the health effects of ever-growing numbers of pulse signals riding on the electromagnetic waves has not been explored.

Early on in their research the Commission learned that they could not discuss 5G without including all things wireless “…the Commission concluded that all things emitting radio frequency (RF) radiation needed to be considered together because of the interaction of all these waves.” At the heart of their discussion was whether or not RF affects humans, animals and nature. The introduction states:

There is mounting evidence that DNA damage can occur from radiation outside of the ionizing part of the spectrum.

The Commission heard from ten experts in physics, epidemiology, toxicology, and public policy. Everyone except the telecom representative acknowledged the large body of science showing RF-radiation emitted by wireless devices can effect humans, especially children, animals, insects, and plants.

The Commission endorsed 15 recommendations. “The objective of those recommendations is to bring about greater awareness of cell phone, wireless and 5G radiation health effects and to provide guidance to officials on steps and policies that can reduce public exposure.” 

Continue reading

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EPA admits no RF research review since 1984, no Congressional funding for RF study, no exposure guidelines exist for trees or wildlife

From Environmental Health Trust

EPA LETTER CONFIRMS LACK OF WIRELESS AND 5G SAFETY REGULATIONS FOR BIRDS, BEES AND TREES

July 11, 2020

On July 8, 2020, Lee Ann B. Veal Director, Radiation Protection Division Office of Radiation and Indoor Air, Environmental Protection Agency of the United States of America confirmed that they have no funded mandate regarding wireless  radiofrequency matters and that they are not aware of any developed safety limits or research reviews related to impacts of wireless on birds bees and the environment.

Please read the latest email exchange below. Theodora Scarato has followed up with more questions after this email. Responses will be posted. Scarato questions are in bold. 

We are holding our government accountable. If you think our work in exposing this reality is important, please DONATE to Environmental Health Trust. 

We are non profit fully supported by donations from the public.  Thank you.

LETTER FROM THE EPA TO THEODORA SCARATO

———- Forwarded message ———
From: Veal, Lee
Date: Wed, Jul 8, 2020 at 11:32 AM
Subject: RE: Letter with specific Questions Related to the FDA review and to the EPA, CDC, NIOSH and FDA Jurisdiction on EMFs
To: Theodora Scarato

Dear Director Scarato;

Thank you for sending us your questions and references regarding radiofrequency (RF) radiation.  Up through the mid-1990s, EPA did study non-ionizing radiation. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to establish rules regarding RF exposure, while the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sets standards for electronic devices that emit non-ionizing or ionizing radiation. EPA does not have a funded mandate for radiofrequency matters, nor do we have a dedicated subject matter expert in radiofrequency exposure. The EPA defers to other agencies possessing a defined role regarding RF. Although your questions are outside our current area of responsibilities, we have provided a response to each one as you requested.

What is your response to these scientists’ statements regarding the FDA report and the call to retract it? EPA Response: The EPA does not have a funded mandate for radiofrequency matters, has not conducted a review of the FDA report you cited or the scientists’ statements, and therefore has no response to it.

To the FDA- What consultants were hired for the FDA review and report on cell phone radiation? EPA Response: This is not an EPA matter. Please refer this question to the FDA.

What US agency has reviewed the research on cell phone radiation and  brain damage? I ask this because the FDA only has looked at selected studies on cancer. If your agency has not,  please simply state you have not. EPA Response: EPA’s last review was in the 1984 document Biological Effects of Radiofrequency Radiation (EPA 600/8-83-026F). The EPA does not currently have a funded mandate for radiofrequency matters.

What US agency has reviewed the research on damage to memory by cell phone radiation?   If so, when and send a link to the review. EPA Response: EPA’s last review was in the 1984 document Biological Effects of Radiofrequency Radiation (EPA 600/8-83-026F). The EPA does not currently have a funded mandate for radiofrequency matters.

What US agency has reviewed the research on impacts to birds and bees?   If so, when and send a link to the review. I will note the latest research showing possible impacts to bees from higher frequencies to be used in 5GEPA Response: The EPA does not have a funded mandate for radiofrequency matters, and we are not aware of any EPA reviews that have been conducted on this topic. We do not know if any other US agencies have reviewed it.

What is a safe level of radiofrequency radiation? I ask this because the FDA and FCC both state they do not need to test cell phones at body contact and it is proven that phones will create exposure that are higher than FCC limits when phones are tested in these positions.

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 directs the FCC to establish rules regarding radiofrequency (RF) exposure. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sets standards for electronic devices that emit non-ionizing or ionizing radiation. The EPA defers to these regulatory authorities for the establishment of safe levels of radiofrequency radiation.

The FDA and FCC have been provided with information and published data showing  the fact that cell phones create cell phone radiation exposures that violate FCC limits. What agency has the job of ensuring accountability that the American public is not exposed to RF radiation that exceeds FCC limits. The FCC has test protocols that say body contact tests are not needed. The FDA refers to the FCC. Yet the fact is that cell phones exceed FCC limits when tested in body contact positions. Are the FCC limits legitimate? These FCC limits are being violated.  Who is the responsible agency that will ensure Americans are protected? The FCC says their rules are not being violated as their rules allow for a space between the phone or device and the body? The FDA says there is a safety factor so there is no need for them to act (and will not state what the safety factor for a cell phone is)  . YET government limits are being exceeded. Are agencies fine with limits being violated? If so please explain at what level of cell phone radiation a federal agency will step in? If so, which agency has jurisdiction? (March 12, 2019 Publication on Om Gandhi’s paper on radiation emissions violating FCC limits 11 times and August 21, 2019 Chicago Tribune cell phone testing data released)

EPA Response: The Telecommunications Act of 1996 directs the FCC to establish rules regarding radiofrequency (RF) exposure. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sets standards for electronic devices that emit non-ionizing or ionizing radiation. The EPA does not have a funded mandate for radiofrequency matters, and the questions you raise are outside of EPA’s areas of responsibilities and current expertise.  Please refer this question to FCC and FDA.

The National Toxicology Program states clear evidence of cancer was found and the FDA disputes this because it was just an animal study. However birds fly and nest on cell antennas mounted on towers, bees fly in front of antennas and family pets (dogs, cats) will sit directly on or near Wi-Fi routers and smart speakers despite the fact that the manuals state humans should be at a minimum of 20 cm from wireless devices (far more from antennas of towers). What about the impact to these animals? What is the US government doing to ensure safety for wildlife and family pets? 

EPA Response: The EPA does not have a funded mandate for radiofrequency matters, and the questions you raise are outside of EPA’s area of responsibility and current expertise. We defer to FDA to provide a response regarding their findings.

Please send me the staff member of your respective agency who is on the Interagency Radiofrequency Workgroup as I have repeatedly tried to get this information and it is never provided to me.

EPA Response: The Radiofrequency Interagency Work Group (RFIAWG) is an informal forum for exchange of information and the group does not meet to set, or advise on, policy, rulemaking or guidance. The group has not met in more than two years.

The FDA only reviewed selected studies on cancer  until 2018. Most recently, the American Cancer Society funded radiation in people with genetic susceptibilities. The National Toxicology Program published research showing DNA damage. Will the FDA be updating it’s review with these studies? If not, then what agency is accountable to American public to ensure humans are not harmed?

EPA Response:  The questions you raise are outside of EPA’s areas of responsibilities and current expertise. Please direct questions about FDA activities to FDA.

What agency ensures safety related to extremely low frequency (ELF-EMF) electromagnetic fields- also non ionizing? Currently we have no federal limit, no federal guidelines and confirmed associations with cancer and many other health effects. Kaiser Permanente researchers have published several studies linking pregnant women’s exposure to magnetic field electromagnetic fields to not only increased miscarriage and but also increased ADHD,obesity and asthma in the woman’s prenatally exposed children.  A recent large scale study again found associations with cancer. Please clarify which US agency has jurisdiction over ELF-EMF exposures? 

EPA Response:  There are no U.S. Federal standards limiting residential or occupational exposure to electric and magnetic fields (EMF) from power lines.  The EPA does not have a funded mandate for radiofrequency matters.

When it comes to cell phone radiation SAR thresholds, what is your understanding of the “safety factor” in place?

EPA Response:  EPA last commented on FCC proposals for SAR limits in the 1996 FCC 96-236. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 directs the FCC to establish rules regarding radiofrequency (RF) exposure. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sets standards for electronic devices that emit non-ionizing or ionizing radiation. The EPA defers to these regulatory authorities for the establishment of safe levels of radiofrequency radiation.

Sincere regards,

Lee Ann B. Veal

Director, Radiation Protection Division

Office of Radiation and Indoor Air

www.epa.gov/radiation

From: Theodora Scarato <
Sent: Friday, June 05, 2020 5:27 PM
To: ombuds@oc.fda.govDICE@fda.hhs.govjeff.shuren@fda.hhs.govStephen.Hahn@fda.hhs.govSecretary@hhs.gov; Veal, Lee <Veal.Lee@epa.gov>; bullard-jenkins.pamela@epa.gov; Griggs, John <Griggs.John@epa.gov>; Wilds, Edward <Wilds.Edward@epa.gov>; Edwards, Jonathan <Edwards.Jonathan@epa.gov>; edwards-jonathan@epa.gov; Rowson, David <Rowson.David@epa.gov>; rowson-david@epa.govzkz1@cdc.govfjh1@cdc.govfrancis.collins@nih.govhrcs@cdc.govnidcdinfo@nidcd.nih.govtalktodol@dol.gov
Cc: Miriam Falco <miriam.falco@cancer.org>; William G. Cance <bill.cance@cancer.org>; Susan Gapstur <susan.gapstur@cancer.org>; Lindsay.Lloyd@fda.hhs.gov; Louis Slesin <louis@microwavenews.com>; sborenstein@ap.org; Broad, William <wjb@nytimes.com>; alan.burdick <alan.burdick@nytimes.com>; Hilary Stout <hilary.stout@nytimes.com>; rebecca.blumenstein <rebecca.blumenstein@nytimes.com>
Subject: Letter with specific Questions Related to the FDA review and to the EPA, CDC, NIOSH and FDA Jurisdiction on EMFs

Dear Honorable Leadership and Scientists  of the FDA,  EPA,  CDC, Health and Human Services,  National Cancer Institute and Department of Labor;

I would respectfully ask the following questions for each of your agencies- the CDC, FDA, HHS, FDA, EPA, NIOSH, Department of Labor  to answer promptly.

  1. What is your response to these scientists statements regarding the FDA report and the call to retract it?
    2. To the FDA- What consultants were hired for the FDA review and report on cell phone radiation?
    3. What US agency has reviewed the research on cell phone radiation and  brain damage? I ask this because the FDA only has looked at selected studies on cancer. If your agency has not,  please simply state you have not.
    4. What US agency has reviewed the research on damage to memory by cell phone radiation?   If so, when and send a link to the review.
    5. What US agency has reviewed the research on damage to trees from cell phone radiation?   If so, when was it issued and send a link to the review. Note this study showing damage from long term exposure to cell antennas. 
    6. What US agency has reviewed the research on impacts to birds and bees?   If so, when and send a link to the review. I will note the latest research showing possible impacts to bees from higher frequencies to be used in 5G.
  2. What is a safe level of radiofrequency radiation? I ask this because the FDA and FCC both state they do not need to test cell phones at body contact and it is proven that phones will create exposure that are higher than FCC limits when phones are tested in these positions.
  3. The FDA and FCC have been provided with information and published data showing  the fact that cell phones create cell phone radiation exposures that violate FCC limits. What agency has the job of ensuring accountability that the American public is not exposed to RF radiation that exceeds FCC limits. The FCC has test protocols that say body contact tests are not needed. The FDA refers to the FCC. Yet the fact is that cell phones exceed FCC limits when tested in body contact positions. Are the FCC limits legitimate? These FCC limits are being violated.  Who is the responsible agency that will ensure Americans are protected? The FCC says their rules are not being violated as their rules allow for a space between the phone or device and the body? The FDA says there is a safety factor so there is no need for them to act (and will not state what the safety factor for a cell phone is)  . YET government limits are being exceeded. Are agencies fine with limits being violated? If so please explain at what level of cell phone radiation a federal agency will step in? If so, which agency has jurisdiction?

(March 12, 2019 Publication on Om Gandhi’s paper on radiation emissions violating FCC limits 11 times and August 21, 2019 Chicago Tribune cell phone testing data released)

  1. The National Toxicology Program states clear evidence of cancer was found and the FDA disputes this because it was just an animal study. However birds fly and nest on cell antennas mounted on towers, bees fly in front of antennas and family pets (dogs, cats) will sit directly on or near Wi-Fi routers and smart speakers despite the fact that the manuals state humans should be at a minimum of 20 cm from wireless devices (far more from antennas of towers). What about the impact to these animals? What is the US government doing to ensure safety for wildlife and family pets?
  2. Please send me the staff member of your respective agency who is on the Interagency Radiofrequency Workgroup as I have repeatedly tried to get this information and it is never provided to me.
  3. The FDA only reviewed selected studies on cancer  until 2018. Most recently, the American Cancer Society funded Yale study linked Thyroid cancer to cell phone radiationin people with genetic susceptibilities. The National Toxicology Program published research showing DNA damage. Will the FDA be updating it’s review with these studies? If not, then what agency is accountable to American public to ensure humans are not harmed?
  4. What agency ensures safety related to extremely low frequency (ELF-EMF) electromagnetic fields- also non ionizing? Currently we have no federal limit, no federal guidelines and confirmed associations with cancer and many other health effects. Kaiser Permanente researchers have published several studies linking pregnant women’s exposure to magnetic field electromagnetic fields to not only increased miscarriage and but also increased ADHDobesity and asthma in the woman’s prenatally exposed children.  A recent large scale study again found associations with cancer. Please clarify which US agency has jurisdiction over ELF-EMF exposures?
  5. When it comes to cell phone radiation SAR thresholds, what is your understanding of the “safety factor” in place?

I am writing to all of you so each of your agencies can provide me with the answers from your respective agencies. Usually one agency  sends me to the other agency but I do not receive an answer. Everyone points the finger at the other but no one has an answer. Please answer my questions numbered one through ten numbered so we have clarity in the response.

Please see the letter from multiple scientists below. I also attached a sampling of recent  pertinent science.

Theodora Scarato

Executive Director Environmental Health Trust

If you think our work in exposing this reality is important, please DONATE to Environmental Health Trust. 

We are non profit fully supported by donations from the public.  Thank you.

See also

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New review study finds heavy cell phone use increases tumor risk

From Electromagnetic Radiation Safety

November 2, 2020

A review of research on cell phone use and tumor risk found that cell phone use with cumulative call time more than 1000 hours significantly increased the risk of tumors.

(Berkeley, CA, November 2, 2020)  Today, the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health published a systematic review and meta-analysis of the case-control research on cell phone use and tumor risk.

This study updates our original meta-analysis (i.e., quantitative research review) published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in 2009. The new review examined twice as many studies as our original paper.

“In sum, the updated comprehensive meta-analysis of case-control studies found significant evidence linking cellular phone use to increased tumor risk, especially among cell phone users with cumulative cell phone use of 1000 or more hours in their lifetime (which corresponds to about 17 min per day over 10 years), and especially among studies that employed high quality methods.”

The abstract and excerpts from this open access paper appear below:

Yoon-Jung Choi+, Joel M. Moskowitz+, Seung-Kwon Myung*, Yi-Ryoung Lee, Yun-Chul Hong*. Cellular Phone Use and Risk of Tumors: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2020, 17(21), 8079; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17218079.

Abstract

We investigated whether cellular phone use was associated with increased risk of tumors using a meta-analysis of case-control studies. PubMed and EMBASE were searched from inception to July 2018. The primary outcome was the risk of tumors by cellular phone use, which was measured by pooling each odds ratio (OR) and its 95% confidence interval (CI). In a meta-analysis of 46 case-control studies, compared with never or rarely having used a cellular phone, regular use was not associated with tumor risk in the random-effects meta-analysis. However, in the subgroup meta-analysis by research group, there was a statistically significant positive association (harmful effect) in the Hardell et al. studies (OR, 1.15—95% CI, 1.00 to 1.33— n = 10), a statistically significant negative association (beneficial effect) in the INTERPHONE-related studies (case-control studies from 13 countries coordinated by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC); (OR, 0.81—95% CI, 0.75 to 0.89—n = 9), and no statistically significant association in other research groups’ studies. Further, cellular phone use with cumulative call time more than 1000 hours statistically significantly increased the risk of tumors. This comprehensive meta-analysis of case-control studies found evidence that linked cellular phone use to increased tumor risk.

+Contributed equally to this study as the first author. *Correspondence.

Excerpts

3.5. Exposure–Response Relationship Between Use of Cellular Phones and Risk of Tumors

Table 3 shows an exposure-response relationship between cellular phone use and tumor risk. In the subgroup meta-analysis by time since first use or latency, overall the risk of tumors by cellular phone use non-significantly increased from an OR of 0.97 to 1.29 as latency increased from less than 5 years to 10 or more years. This finding was observed in each subgroup meta-analysis by research group. Especially, statistically significant increased tumor risk was observed for latency of 10 or more years in the Hardell studies (OR, 1.62; 1.03 to 2.57; n = 5; I2 = 39.9%). Similarly, the use of cellular phones non-significantly increased the risk of tumors as the cumulative or lifetime use in years and the cumulative number of calls increased in all studies and in each study group. Remarkably, in the subgroup meta-analysis of all studies by cumulative call time, cellular phone use greater than 1000 hours statistically significantly increased the risk of tumors (OR, 1.60; 1.12 to 2.30; n = 8; I2 = 74.5%). Interestingly, the use of cellular phones overall and in the Hardell studies (OR, 3.65; 1.69 to 7.85; n = 2, especially in the Hardell studies) non significantly increased the risk of tumors with cumulative call time of 300–1000 h and more than 1000 h, while it decreased the risk of tumors in most subgroup meta-analyses of the INTERPHONE studies.

5. Conclusions

In sum, the updated comprehensive meta-analysis of case-control studies found significant evidence linking cellular phone use to increased tumor risk, especially among cell phone users with cumulative cell phone use of 1000 or more hours in their lifetime (which corresponds to about 17 min per day over 10 years), and especially among studies that employed high quality methods. Further quality prospective studies providing higher level of evidence than case-control studies are warranted to confirm our findings.

This open access paper and supplemental material can be downloaded at http://bit.ly/cellphonetumor.

https://www.saferemr.com/2020/11/new-review-study-tumor-risk.html

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EMF Medical Conference 2021 — register now (video trailer)

The EMF Medical Conference 2021
Prevention, Diagnosis and Treatment of EMF Associated Illness

January 28 – 31, 2021

A Virtual Conference

The EMF Medical Conference (EMFMC) 2021 will convene leading physicians, clinicians, and scientists for a series of presentations on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of EMF associated illness. Experts in EMF assessment will present proven methods that can prevent or limit EMF exposure hazards.

CME/CE credit

The public is welcome to attend.

Registration information at http://www.emfconference2021.com/

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“Radio Frequency Radiation Health Risks: Implications for 5G” — Grand Rounds, UC San Francisco, Sept. 24, 2020

http://bit.ly/UCSFgrandrounds

This presentation summarizes research on the biologic and health effects from exposure to radio frequency radiation emitted by cell phones and cell towers and discusses the implications of this research for 5G, fifth generation cellular technology.

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