Health & Safety FAQs

What health and safety protocols will you deploy?

SouthCoast Wind has adopted a “zero harm” philosophy and aims to achieve zero recordable and lost-time incidents.

SouthCoast Wind will:

  • Provide a systematic approach to Health, Safety, Security & Environment (HSSE) & Social Performance (SP) management designed to ensure compliance with applicable law and to achieve continuous performance improvement;
  • Commit to conduct all operations in a safe and diligent manner;
  • Commit to reduce the HSSE & SP risks associated with operations; and
  • Provide any necessary measures or plans to address emergency events.

To manage risks, SouthCoast Wind:

  • Sets targets for improvement and measure, appraise, and monthly performance reporting;
  • Requires contractors to manage HSSE risks in line with the HSSE & SP policies of SouthCoast Wind;
  • Ensures that HSSE & SP is the responsibility of all managers, teams and individuals;
  • Provides proactive and respectful engagement with neighbors and impacted communities;
  • Permits any individual to stop any work, or prevent any work from starting, where adequate controls of HSSE & SP risks are found not to be in place or are ineffective;
  • Includes HSSE performance in the appraisal of operating staff and contractors and rewards them accordingly; and
  • Applies the Life-Saving Rules for all work activities.
How will you mitigate issues related to navigational safety and commercial fisheries?

SouthCoast Wind and the other New England offshore leaseholders have proposed a collaborative regional layout for wind turbines across respective federal offshore lease areas. This uniform grid pattern has at least three lines of orientation and standard spacing: lanes for vessel transit oriented in a northwest to southwest direction at 0.7 nautical mile wide; lanes for commercial fishing vessels actively engaged in fishing oriented in an east to west direction at 1 nautical mile wide; and lanes for US Coast Guard search and rescue operations oriented in a north to south and east to west direction at 1 nautical mile wide.

This layout creates more distance between turbines than any offshore wind projects operating globally, establishing more than 200 transit lanes in all directions through the lease areas.

The United States Coast Guard (USCG) determined in its May 2020 Massachusetts Rhode Island Port Access Route Study (MARIPARS) that this type of “standard and uniform grid pattern” layout would “maximize safe navigation” and allow for “safe navigation and continuity of USCG missions through seven adjacent wind farm leases over more than 1400 square miles of ocean.”

Do electric and magnetic fields (EMF) from the project impact human health?

EMF is produced by both natural and man-made means. EMF is a part of our everyday lives and is present around household appliances, electronics, as well as power lines. Whenever there is a flow of electricity, both electric and magnetic fields are created.

For over 40 years there has been a great deal of scientific studies to determine whether EMF affect human health. The World Health Organization (WHO) released a review of research on EMF and human health that was consistent with the findings of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and other national and international research reviews. The WHO report concluded that the cumulative evidence was not sufficient to indicate a causal relationship between EMF and any disease, including cancer.

The International Commission of Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) established the health-based guideline for public exposure to EMF at 2,000 milliGause (mG).  The extremely low frequency EMF associated with the SouthCoast Wind project will be substantially lower than the ICNIRP guidelines.

What is the maximum export cable voltage SouthCoast Wind could use, and how does voltage relate to EMF?

SouthCoast Wind’s preferred transmission technology for interconnection to Falmouth is high voltage alternating current (HVAC) export cables. The nominal voltage for the selected cables could be up to 345 kilovolts (kV), which corresponds to an equipment voltage class of 362 kV. The operating voltage could therefore fluctuate up to 362 kV.

The term EMF describes the combined characteristics of electric fields and magnetic fields. Voltage directly determines the electric field, however, the HVAC export cables that SouthCoast Wind would use are constructed in a way that produces negligible electric field outside the cable, regardless of voltage class. Therefore, SouthCoast Wind’s modeling analysis of HVAC EMF is focused on magnetic fields. Magnetic field size is directly determined by current. The magnitude of the current in the cables will be limited by the thermal constraints of the cables, a property which is generally independent of cable voltage class. The voltage class of SouthCoast Wind’s HVAC cables does not correlate to magnetic field size.

How does EMF modeling compare to measured values in the field? 

SouthCoast Wind’s modeling analysis of HVAC EMF uses conservative operational inputs. The modeled currents represent maximum loadings for the cables by assuming the wind farm is operating at 100% output and delivering 1,200 MW. As a renewable resource dependent on weather patterns, the actual output of the offshore wind farm will vary and typically be less than 100%. Further, the modeling analysis includes conservatively shallow cable burial scenarios and looks at a variety of physical cable arrangements. For all these scenarios, the maximum predicted magnetic field for the SouthCoast Wind project to Falmouth is less than the health-based guideline of 2,000 milligauss (mG) for allowable public exposure to 60 hertz (Hz) HVAC magnetic fields, established by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) in 2010. The modeling is purposefully conducted with conservative assumptions so that predictions in the report exceed what would be measured once the wind farm is operational. 

What are the noise impacts of the landfall and underground cabling?

Noise emitting activities during construction of the landfall and underground cabling will include excavation and installation of the trench, duct bank, and manhole system, as well as backfill and compaction, pavement restoration, and splicing activities. Sound levels will vary among these activities, depending on the equipment used. SouthCoast Wind will use equipment like that used in typical public works projects.

SouthCoast Wind will comply with applicable sections of state air quality regulations regarding unnecessary noise from sound-emitting construction equipment.

During operation, cables will not produce noticeable noise.

What are the noise impacts of the substation?

The substation will contain sound-producing electrical equipment. As the substation design is developed, the substation equipment and layout is refined, SouthCoast Wind will include noise considerations as a key factor of the design process.

SouthCoast Wind will work to minimize noise impacts on nearby receptors through the use of multiple potential strategies including, low-noise transformers, housing or enclosing of certain substation components, as well as sound barriers.

SouthCoast Wind will comply with all applicable noise standards, including the 10 dBA limit at nearby residences and no ‘pure tones” as defined by the MassDEP Noise Policy.

How will the project withstand hurricanes, n’oreasters, and other storms?

The design of wind turbine systems involves the use of models to understand how different loads, like winds and waves, will impact a wind turbine and its foundation during extreme situations. Design standards for offshore wind farms are based on lessons learned from turbines that have survived typhoons in Asia and on standards for offshore oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, many of which have survived major hurricanes.

Will the project have a fire safety plan?

SouthCoast Wind will have an emergency response plan as part of the project’s overall safety management system, which will address fire safety. The plan embodies an incident response and command structure which involves working with first responders, especially the Falmouth Fire Department. The plan will incorporate the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) lessons learned and guidance for substation fires and working with first responders.

Will the project have a spill plan?

SouthCoast Wind will include spill response in its emergency response plan as part of the project’s overall safety management system. The emergency response and notification procedures included in the plan will be used for the management and avoidance of the release of oils to the environment. SouthCoast Wind will coordinate with the Falmouth Fire Department in developing the plan and provide copies to the local response agencies. Proper spill containment kits and spill control accessories will be strategically placed at the substation and will include absorbent pads, temporary berms, absorbent socks, drip pans, drain covers/plugs, over pack containers all for immediate use in the event of any inadvertent spills or leaks. All operators will be trained in the use and deployment of this spill prevention equipment.

How does extreme cold impact the turbines?

Cold-climate weatherized wind turbines regularly operate in frigid conditions, including the main U.S. research station in Antarctica. Developing ice-resistant coatings for blades is an ongoing area of research. However, the probability of ice occurrence modeled from 39 years of data at each sampling location within the SouthCoast Wind offshore lease area was averaged to be 2.32%.

Has SouthCoast Wind investigated possible battery storage of generated power during off peak times?

SouthCoast Wind recognizes that battery storage is an exciting technology that has significant economic and environmental benefits. Our analysis indicates that dedicated storage facilities physically closest to load sources, matching needed durations (such as urban neighborhoods or institutional campuses), would better serve peak support needs than storage systems co-located with offshore wind projects.

Do the export cables expose human beings and living things to any kind of dangerous emissions?

No. Neither the installation nor the operation of the project’s export cables will produce any dangerous emissions. SouthCoast Wind’s export cables are comprable to transmission infrastructure found in many places across the United States, including all six New England states.

Do the transformers in your substations use PCB's or other hazardous materials?

The onshore substation and converter station will have non-PCB oil-filled transformers as part of the operating equipment. Mitigation measures for the remote potential of an unplanned accidental release will be incorporated into the onshore substation’s design (such as secondary containment around transformer equipment) or the maintenance activity (such as spill response plans).