NGOs against turning state wireless

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Nov 26, 2008, 3:01:31 AM11/26/08
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Thursday November 20, 2008

http://thestar.com.my/metro/story.asp?file=/2008/11/20/north/2591519&sec=north
<http://thestar.com.my/metro/story.asp?file=/2008/11/20/north/2591519&sec=north>


NGOs against turning state wireless


The state government’s plan to make Penang a ‘wireless’ state in the
next two years is drawing opposition from non-governmental organisations
(NGOs).

The Penang Wireless Campaign Group and Penang Telco Towers Campaign
Alliances submitted a memorandum to the state government to oppose its
wireless@PENANG initiative on Tuesday, calling for the project to be
scrutinized again for health risks that might be caused by long-term
exposure to electromagnetic transmission of the WiFi and WiMAX services.

Penang Wanita MCA chief Tan Cheng Liang, who also received a copy of the
memorandum from the two NGOs, urged the state government to review the
project and study research results and other scientific evidence on
exposure to electromagnetic transmission before it allowed access points
to be installed state wide.

“For WiFi, the exposure to the transmission can be up to a 300m radius
from a single access point, while for WiMAX, it is about 50km.

“This is not like using mobile phones that you can put away or turn off
when not in use. People will be exposed to the transmissions over long
hours continuously,” she said during a press conference.

Tan said the NGOs were concerned about access points being installed in
libraries, schools and public places with growing children, pregnant
women and elderly citizens.

“The exposure to the transmission can affect the children’s immune
systems. It may also cause cancer or other illnesses.

“The wireless plan should be scrapped if it is proven to cause health
adversities,” she said.

Tan also said being a CAT (Competency, Accountability and Transparency)
state government, it was responsible for ensuring that the project and
its possible effects were well studied and all necessary health measures
undertaken.

“With the state calling for transparency, we also hope it would live up
to its own words in disclosing the contracts and provisions for owners
of premises who want to install WiFi and WiMAX access points,” she added.

On Tuesday, state Local Government, Traffic Management and Environment
Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said the state government would not
hesitate to call off its Wireless@Penang project if there were
substantial claims to show that there were health risks.

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From: *Deborah Kopald*

Date: Tue, Nov 25, 2008 at 12:28 AM
Subject: Cell Towers and the Obama Administration


This week, the Obama Administration solicited suggestions on energy and
environmental issues at http://www.change.gov/page/s/energyenviro .

I submitted the enclosed comment on this site. Would you consider
writing a note to express your opinion on this important issue? It's a
very user-friendly site. Feel free to adapt my language if you like.

Rgds,

Deborah


I would like the Obama Administration to make sure that the FCC does not
preempt local control over zoning by allowing cell tower companies to
dictate the placement of cell towers in peoples' communities by
overriding local control over siting. The Obama administration should
NOT adopt FCC Commisioner Adelstein's short-sighted proposal to preempt
municipalities' zoning control.

The cell tower issue is a bipartisan issue that has united Democrats and
Republicans alike over the themes of local zoning control, common-sense
land use policy and environmental preservation. This issue has been
particularly important in Colorado, California, New York, and New
England as well as other places around the country

Here's a little background on the issue:

The Telecom Act of '96 deregulated the wireless industry. One of the
results was that cell tower companies were aggressive about trying to
put up cell towers in areas in which they didn't belong- too close to
people's homes and schools. Concerns about the health effects of
proximity to cell towers are real. Various branches of the military
have more stringent exposure standards than the federal ANSI standards.

The federal government allows cell towers to emit much more radiation
than is allowed in other countries. Canada and Italy's cell tower
emissions are 100 times less than U.S. towers; China's are 166 times
less, Switzerland's are 250 times less and New Zealand's are 50,000
times less.

Consider the comments of these Nobel Prize nominees in medicine: Dr.
Gerard Hyland says, "Existing safety guidelines for cell towers are
completely inadequate." Dr. Robert O. Becker writes, "I have no doubt
... that the greatest polluting element in the Earth's environment is
the proliferation of [artificial] magnetic fields." More than 40
physicians and scientists at Harvard and Boston University Schools of
Public Health claim cell towers are a "radiation hazard" and "public
health emergency."

Many local communities have dealt with cell tower placement by requiring
minimum setbacks from homes, schools and other locations that people
frequent. Recently, the FCC tried to preempt local control of tower
placement. I have enclosed the letter I submitted to the FCC.

Dear FCC and FCC Commissioner Adelstein:

Preemption goes against the spirit of adequate environmental review.
Local regulation is not obstructionist but rather within the rights
reserved to communities by the Telecom Act of 1996 by the US Congress.

I worked on local siting in my town and I can tell you first hand that
without the proposed federal interference, as it is we have very little
control over tower siting which is usually dictated by the well-heeled
cell phone companies which come into towns, demand to have their first
choice sites and often create menacing public campaigns that often
contain untruths about coverage.

Towers like other non-conforming structures are subject to local review-
without review, towers would go up on property where landowners are
willing to cut quick deals. These sites are neither the most
appropriate environmentally nor the sites that would provide the most
efficient coverage necessarily.
Local review ensures appropriate land use policy. It would be
devastating for the federal government to take away local zoning power
from us.

Please do not approve the preemption policy, which amounts to a de facto
land taking by the federal government.
****************************************************
In conclusion, the best course of policy would be for the federal
government NOT to interfere with local zoning and siting. The best case
scenario would be for the federal government to review the weak ANSI
radiation standards and consider why the US allows thousands of times
more emissions than many of our foreign counterparts.

Barring that, the federal government should not add insult to injury and
allow the wireless industry to bulldoze local zoning and municipal laws
by forcing towers or transmitters near schools or homes when there are
other, more appropriate places for them to be sited.

Sincerely,
Deborah Kopald


Informant: Martin Weatherall


[ http://freepage.twoday.net/search?q=Wi-Fi
http://omega.twoday.net/search?q=Wi-Fi ]

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