(Pound Ridge, New York) When Dr. Harold and Millie Mendelson put their dream house on the market, they demanded $2.5 million dollars from the only buyer they were interested in: the New York State Electric and Gas company.
The Mendelsons’ demand came in the form of a lawsuit, because the couple said for the last, twenty-plus years, their animals—and they—have been getting “zapped” by stray voltage from NYSEG’s substation, which is adjacent to their six acre property. It started with the pool: “I felt this buzzing,” Millie Mendelson recalled. Now she and friends are getting jolts by the sink, she said, “”You feel it going up into your body,” Mendelson told PIX 11. “They’d touch it and jump back, almost like they were being thrown back into the wall.”
The couple bought the property with a pool, a historic, 1760 home, a pond and a cottage in 1987. Four years later, they realized something was wrong, they said.
“The horses started acting crazy, and the vets thought they had brain tumors,” Dr. Mendelson told PIX 11. “Our dog, Glory, started chewing her feet until they were bloody. I had to put her down.”
When the horse, Coco, went back to the place it came from, Coco’s medical trouble went away, according to Dr. Mendelson, who’s a psychiatrist. But he and his wife said the stray voltage issue was never fully resolved, and now he and his wife have health concerns. “I had a facial palsy; my face collapsed twice in the last year,” Mendolson said. “It would be episodic and go away.”
After the couple filed an initial lawsuit in 1991—after hiring an independent consultant with NYSEG—they said the utility company came and put stray voltage “blockers” on the electric pole across the street from their home on Salem Drive in Pound Ridge. There were horns that were supposed to go off, if the stray voltage exceeded a certain level. Several years ago, the alarms started going off thirty or forty times a day, according to the couple. The company said the alarms were faulty, but the couple said their issues persisted and they’re worried about their health. “I get violent pains in my head,” Millie Mendelson told PIX 11.
The family has filed another lawsuit and wants to buy another property in Pound Ridge, paid for by NYSEG. “We’ll sign over the deed to this property,” Millie Mendelson said, “because their voltage is going right through it.”
PIX 11 tried to call an administrator and then a public relations officer at NYSEG but got a voicemail. Soon after, we received this statement by e-mail from Clayton Ellis, the company’s Manager of Corporate Communications:
“The safety of our customers and employees is of paramount importance to us, and we comply with the New York State Public Service Commission’s rigorous stray voltage testing and repair requirements. Because this particular situation is now in litigation, we have no further comment.”
But the Mendelsons told PIX they need to keep talking, with Millie pointing out the rubber “flip flops” she keeps near the shower, before getting in. “I wear my rubber-soled shoes, and I take a one minute shower,” she told PIX. “No more baths.”