|(Choice of image by Editor of "Towards Better Health")|
by Nina Beety, Guest commentary, montereyherald.com, 30 September 2016
A cell tower tsunami is about to hit our community, affecting humans, wildlife and trees.
The Federal Communications Commission is pushing new cell towers (called “small cells”) into the public right-of-way in preparation for 5G — Chair Tom Wheeler proudly calls it “infrastructure intensive, requiring a massive deployment of small cells.” This is not for phone coverage. It is for future technology uses and faster streaming video.
These pole-mounted microwave transmitters will be located on sidewalks and in front yards, outside front doors and bedroom windows throughout our community. In places where utilities are undergrounded, new utility poles will be erected for these antennas.
The visual blight will be substantial, with multiple antennas installed on many utility poles. The radiation will be everywhere.
There will also be probable noise issues with buzzing from the electronics and cooling fans, most noticeable at night when people are sleeping.
California law says that telecom uses of the right-of-way cannot “incommode” the public, yet that’s exactly what these intrusive antennas do.
Microwave radiation emissions cause human and environmental damage. This radiation harms birds, butterflies, bees, trees and other species.
These antennas violate ADA; for those disabled by sensitivity to electromagnetic radiation, these towers will turn sidewalks and streets into “no go” zones. Eventually, there will be no safe place anywhere.
Thousands of U.S. cell towers are out of compliance with FCC limits, as high as 600 percent. Once antennas are installed, Crown Castle and other providers may broadcast at any level; violations have been sent to the FCC, but it has taken no action. Crown Castle’s antennas already exceed FCC thermal guidelines as far as 4 feet from their face. Crown Castle hasn’t provided a number, or what levels the antennas emit at 5 feet, 6 feet or 8 feet out, though. The space around these antennas is not a vacuum. Birds, bats, bees, butterflies and other insects inhabit these zones, and homes with second stories are directly adjacent.
FCC limits have not been updated since 1996, and those limits are only based on heating effects to a large man for a few minutes of exposure. There are no guidelines for non-thermal biological effects or chronic exposure or exposure to children. Other countries have much stricter standards than the United States.
The National Toxicology Program of the National Institutes of Health announced in May that this radiation causes brain tumors, heart tumors and pre-cancerous lesions below FCC thermal limits. Substantial peer-reviewed research has shown harm from this radiation for decades and that cancer clusters occur around cell towers up to one-quarter-mile away. Radiation comparisons to baby monitors and other wireless devices, none of which have been safety tested, are little comfort.
Tuesday, the Monterey City Council will consider a wireless ordinance revision that allows these new cell towers. It will also hear an appeal by Crown Castle to allow the first cell tower in Monterey’s right-of-way, which the Planning Commission previously rejected. If approved, this tower will create precedent for right-of-way use throughout Monterey, even if the new ordinance is not approved.
The Pacific Grove Planning Commission has approved three right-of-way antenna projects along Central Avenue. This approval creates a precedent in Pacific Grove unless it is appealed and overturned. The Planning Commission ignored its ordinance that prohibits actions that would be injurious to monarch butterflies. Microwave radiation affects butterflies on many levels, including to immune function, fertility, navigation, learning, DNA and causing blood-brain barrier breaches. P.G. and Monterey also routinely sign off on health and safety declarations in the paperwork.
Crown Castle, according to its 2014 SEC filing, does not have liability insurance for health effects. If residents sue over these cell towers, the cities will be left defenseless. The company also has substantial indebtedness, which can impair its ability to do proper maintenance.
The law firm which Monterey hired to consult with for these issues stated on its website: “Fast and reliable legal services for the telecom industry and cell site landlords.” This was removed after I brought it to the attention of the City Council, but staff continue to consult with the firm to create this ordinance and support Crown Castle’s appeal.
The character and health of our towns will be irreparably damaged by allowing cell towers in the public’s right-of-way. Two years from now, it will be too late to say, “I wish we’d known. I wish we’d said no.” Please oppose these towers and Monterey’s new ordinance before it is too late.
Nina Beety is a member of the California EMF Safety Coalition. She lives in Monterey.