Last Sunday was the day I picked to sit down and talk to my seven-years-young son about the possibility of having to move because of JCP&L’s Monmouth County’s Reliability Proposal. I tried to explain to him that JCP&L wants to dig up part of our backyard (we live less than 200 feet from the right-of-way), and build 200-foot poles with glaring lights and buzzing noises along the rows of birdhouses he and his Dad put up around the bushes that line our fence. I told him that JCP&L would have to anchor these poles so far down into the ground, the same ground he plays kickball on, that it would take hundreds of men, thousands of hours and loud, heavy equipment to get it done. I told him that the poles would have lights at the top of them to ensure airplanes could see them during evening flights. I gently told him about the EMF radiation that we would be living under, for the rest of our lives, never to escape it. I told him we will have to move if JCP&L is allowed to implement the project.
For those few minutes while I spoke I tried not to make eye contact with him. I knew I would cry if I watched his little mind starting to work and understand. I finally looked at his big brown eyes, filled with trust and he asked me, “Who is the man who wants to do this to us?” I explained that it is a company, named First Energy/JCP&L. When he asked what this company does I told him they provide us with our power. Power to light the house so that we do not live in the dark, power to use our oven so that we can eat. As any seven year old would, he looked confused. He asked, “But Mommy if they give us power, that means they are our friends. Friends don’t do bad things to each other. I bet if they thought about what they are doing they could find a way to be a better friend”. It was impossible for him to wrap his head around the fact that JCP&L could provide us with power to light our home, which to him says they care about us, yet at the same time, displace us, disrupt our lives, put us in danger.
It occurred to me there are hundreds of families and thousands of children who will be affected by this project if it is approved, but those children will never understand why they had to endure years of construction, move from their safe homes, become sick because of living with radiation their entire lives. The entire course of their lives would be changed in one way or another. Maybe they’ll move away from the friendships they’ve created since birth. Maybe they will start a new school and lose their self-esteem, their confidence, being the new kid. Maybe they will never sleep again, after their bodies and minds learn to stay awake through the night listening to helicopters and cranes. Maybe they will get sick and spend their adult years never really knowing whether or not it was due to living under radiation for so long.
My son and I ended our conversation with a hopeful attitude; we will continue to pray that the people who have power, influence and a beating heart like mine, make good choices. We teach our children to be kind, to love and to do the right thing. This “lesson” of money over people’s lives is not one I want my son to have to learn. Not yet.
– Jen Aquino, Middletown
This letter was first published in the March 16-23 2017 print edition of The Two River Times.
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