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Remove cell tower
Trinidad Created: 23 Jan 2007

Residents of Ruth Avenue in San Fernando are calling for the removal of a Digicel cellular tower, which has been operating close to their homes for more than a year.

The residents blocked Ruth Avenue during a protest demonstration yesterday.

They stuck placards on the fence around of the tower. Some of them read: “Remove this tower now,” “Our children will fall ill,” and “No to radiation.”

Spokesman Kishore Kushal said they were scared of the radiation emitting from the tower.

“We have young children living here, and we do not want this tower here. We want this pulled down now.”

He said the residents were never consulted before the tower was erected.

The matter was brought to the attention of San Fernando West MP Diane Seukeran, who promised to assist.

“We also wrote to San Fernando City Corporation, but still nothing has been done,” Kushal said.

Another resident, Gloria Jaggernauth, said the tower came “like a thief in the night.

“We just got up one day and saw the tower up. We do not want it here, because we have families living here.

“Let them put it on San Fernando Hill, if they want to.”

Jaggernauth said a newspaper advertisement, recently, indicated that the tower was earmarked for removal.

“But the tower is still up. We want it taken down.”

She added that if nothing was done, residents would journey to the Prime Minister’s office in Port-of-Spain to complain.

Meanwhile, Pundit Vickram Maharaj, who lives close by, said somebody in authority must indicate the dangers of the cellular towers.

“We have to know, because people all over the country are concerned about this.”

Maharaj said there were four cellular towers in San Fernando, two of which were located on Coffee Street.

“If it is proven that the towers are dangerous, then take them down immediately,” Maharaj said.

San Fernando Mayor Kenneth Ferguson could not be reached for comment.

However, MP Seukeran said Town and Country Planning was investigating the existence of the tower.

“The relevant agencies are in communication, and the Digicel tower will come down, once it is in breach of the regulations,” she said.

Residents said they would continue their protests if the tower was not dismantled.

Photo: Cori Baynes Story by BY RADHICA SOOKRAJ
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Source: ©2005-2006 Trinidad Publishing Company Limited

Digicel tower protest
Trinidad Created: 10 Jan 2007
Approximately 30 residents of Jerningham Street and environs yesterday protest the Digicel cell tower in their neighbourhood. ...
"The cell tower must go!" was the loud chant from protesting residents of Jerningham Street, Petit Bourg, as they demanded the removal of a Digicel tower sited on a vacant lot on their street.
The protest was held yesterday in conjunction with the Association for Radio Frequency Emission Control in TT (ArFECTT) to demonstrate the residents' dissatisfaction with the continued erection of the tower despite many complaints to the authorities.

Collin Roberts, a resident of the area said the tower was erected without any consultation with the residents in the neighbourhood.

He said the property where the tower is located was owned by a shop-owner who lived on the Eastern Main Road. Work began at the site more than a month ago. Roberts said when residents asked workers what was going on they were told that the property was being fenced, another time they were told that a house was being built. "Then we realised what was going on," he said.

Roberts said another resident found out that the Town and Country Planning Division had not given approval for the tower. He said economic considerations seemed to outweigh social considerations in the location of the cell tower.

He said workers pulled down the fence of the homeowner next to the property "without consent."

Dr Roi Ankhkara Kwabena
Source: Dr Roi Ankhkara Kwabena

Digicel defends cell structure at Petit Bourg
Trinidad Created: 10 Jan 2007
Digicel defends cell structure at Petit Bourg
Mobile phone service provider Digicel defended the legality of a cellular structure at Jerningham Street, Petit Bourg, yesterday although Government has given the company seven working days to remove it.
The company said in a statement yesterday the temporary cellular structure or COW is legal and noted that the Town and Country Planning Act (Chapter 35:01) provides for temporary movable structures to be erected without requiring planning permission.
Digicel said that the COW was a temporary structure and they had received a non-objection certificate from the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT) in respect of the site.
A representative from TATT said yesterday that the non-objection certificate was granted on November 7. He said that TATT's role is to ensure that there were not too many cell towers within a given radius and that if there were two towers within 400 metresof each other, they encouraged co-location. He said the nearest tower to the site was 831 metres away and the certificate was therefore granted.
He noted, however, that Town and Country Planning Division had the final say. Digicel said that they deployed the temporary COW to alleviate the problem of blocked calls in the area and the risk to public safety from the inability to place calls.
The company added that they have had an application for a permanent structure in respect of that site pending for four months with the Ministry of Planning and Development.
Planning Minister Camille Robinson-Regis had stated that Digicel had seven working days to remove the cellular structure at the site because it had not been approved by the Town and Country Planning Division.
She had noted that the ministry would remove it if Digicel failed to comply.
On Saturday residents in the area also held a protest against the site.
Julien Neaves
Wednesday, January 3rd 2007

Dr Roi Ankhkara Kwabena
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Source: Dr Roi Ankhkara Kwabena

Ministry: Cell tower issues not fully known. So are they going ahead anyway??
Trinidad Created: 13 Dec 2006
PLANNING and Development minister Camille Robinson-Regis, assured the public that she is committed to the enforcement of the planning policy for public mobile telecommunications services.
The response on Wednesday came via the communications unit of the ministry.

The ministry admitted that full health effects on cell towers and cell phones are not yet known to the ministry as the technology is relatively new. However, the ministry stated that TT has adopted the international standard of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection.

The ministry added that they are working closely with the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT) to ensure compliance with stipulated parameters regarding the erection of towers.
Monday, December 11 2006-
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Source: Dr Roi Ankhkara Kwabena

Cell-tower radiation can kill
Trinidad Created: 5 Dec 2006
HUNDREDS of persons, from the very young to the elderly, living in and around cell-towers are unknowingly living with death as both local and international medical research indicate radiation from these towers may cause major diseases, sometimes with fatal consequences.
This was the view expressed by several professors, researchers and public health scientists during a health symposium yesterday at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Faculty of Medical Sciences, Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC) in Mt Hope.

The symposium entitled "Cell Tower Radiation: Is it safe?" saw a disappointing turnout especially since the health concern surrounding cell-towers was raised locally and internationally within recent time.

Members of the panel found that brain tumours, memory loss, a reduced sperm count and leukaemia were some of the effects caused by constant exposure to cell-tower radiation.

Noticeably absent from yesterday's symposium were representatives of the country's two cellular providers — TSTT and Digicel. The absence was noted by symposium chairman Keith Clifford.

Peter Permell, vice-president of the Association for Radio Frequency (RF) Emission and Control in TT (ArFECTT), told the audience that cell-tower radiation is one of the most important environmental concerns today.

According to Permell, ArFECTT undertook its own research into RF emissions because the group "is deeply concerned about the public's safety." The association, he said, also found that the symptoms subside when people leave the surrounding area where these towers are located.

Cell-towers are erected in or around densely populated areas to ensure the viability of radio frequencies on which cellular phones operate.

It was added that the towers should not be placed closer than 300 metres to where people live.

Professor Stephan Gift, of UWI's Faculty of Engineering, told the sparse audience that his findings showed radiation caused alteration in brain waves, a two-fold increase in child leukaemia and changes in the human immune system.

He also sourced information from a "Reflex Study" done by 12 groups in seven European countries. Findings showed that radiation caused DNA breaks in exposed cells of the human body.

Gift said it was also found that in Germany, this year, there was a seven fold increase in breast cancer in an area with cell towers. He also said that 900 cell towers were demolished in Taiwan in 2005 after these health concerns were raised.

Throughout the local cell tower issue, TSTT has maintained it ensures its radio frequency emissions from cell-towers were as much as a thousand times lower than the recommended levels of the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).

However, Gift suggested that the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT) reject the ICNIRP as have China, Russia and Sweden and move to a better standard when dealing with the health ramifications of these towers.

Gift said that the headaches people experience with prolonged cellular phone usage are because, "things leak into the brain, which shouldn't." Contacted yesterday for comment, TATT executive chairman John Prince said two members were present at the symposium as they would today brief him on what the medical experts said at the symposium.

"We have not had all of the information (regarding the amount of cell-towers in TT)...the companies (TSTT and Digicel) are supposed to lodge with us," Prince said.

When contacted by Newsday, TSTT Communications Manager Amoy Van Lowe assured that TSTT maintains cell-tower emissions significantly lower than international standards. She added that instead of criticising the company, Gift should, "lobby to have the standards re-assessed."

The symposium also included a recording from George Carlo, a Public Health Scientist at the Science and Public Policy Institute in the United States on his findings regarding cell-tower radiation emissions.

He said over a period of five and a half years, severe effects from cellular phone usage were discovered. Carlo found that radiation from cellular phones opened up the blood-brain barrier that normally protects brain tissues from toxic chemicals circulating in the blood and also caused a disruption in DNA repair.

However, Jonas Addae, a professor at UWI's Faculty of Medical Sciences, disputed the panel's findings saying that in 2000, the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicated that "radioactive frequencies emitted by mobile phones and base stations are unlikely to induce or promote cancer."

In July, Planning and Development Minister Camille Robinson-Regis indicated that Government, with the help of the Army, was going to tear down 16 TSTT and Digicel cell-towers which reportedly failed to comply with existing planning policy. So far, only one cell-tower has in fact been torn down.

Attempts to contact both Robinson-Regis and Public Utilities and the Environment Minister Pennelope Beckles, for comment proved futile.
NEWSDAY REPORTERS Monday, December 4 2006,48646.html
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Source: Dr Roi Ankhkara Kwabena

Cell phone radiation: Slow Genocide?
Trinidad Created: 2 Nov 2006
Ruth Osman walks both sides of the line
The battle between two mobile service providers and members of the public over cell sites is escalating with some parties seeking legal advice and others already threatening legal action.
But is there really a link between the radiation emitted by cell sites and ailments like cancer, high blood pressure and depression?
And even if there is a connection, is it strong enough to warrant immediate action from government and civil groups?

Slow Genocide?
Prof Stephen Gift of the University of the West Indies says that the cell tower on top of the Engineering Building where he works is a personal cause for concern.
In an interview at his campus office, Gift told theSunday Express, "As we are here now, I am not satisfied that I am safe ...that causes a certain level of stress for me on a daily basis."
Gift, who conducted research for the university on the possible dangers of cell sites, is convinced that cell site radiation is hazardous to health.

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Source: Dr Roi Ankhkara Kwabena

Cell tower controversy
Trinidad Created: 19 Oct 2006
THE LIBERALISATION of Trinidad and Tobago’s telecommunications sector has resulted, not only in fierce competition between service providers, but an unprecedented level of community activism as residents band together to protest the erection of cell phone towers in their neighbourhoods.
Before liberalisation, there were 202 towers operated by TSTT.

With the entry of new players into the local telecom market, close to 400 new towers have been built and more are likely to be erected over the next several months.

This has sparked protests in several communities, including Valsayn, La Florissante and Arouca where residents have mounted placard protests around the structures and have joined forces to demand the removal of towers. They are concerned that the towers pose a threat to their health.

In this regard, TT is not unique. Around the world there have been protests over cell towers, some of them violent, with protestors pulling down tower masts and physically attacking installation crews.

At the core of these protests are fears that the towers are a danger to human health and that the radiation produced by the structures can cause cancer, impair the body’s immune system and affect the nervous system, causing a range of behavioural, cognitive, neurochemical and neurological problems.

However, to date there is no conclusive scientific or medical evidence to support claims that cell towers are harmful to health

Among those weighing in on this contentious issue is the world’s leading expert on cell phone radiation, Dr Henry Lai, a research professor based at the University of Washington’s Bioengineering Department. For more than two decades and with very little fanfare, Dr Lai has been spearheading efforts to understand the health effects of cell phones and tower radiation.

But for all his years of research, Dr Lai can’t offer a definitive answer on whether cell towers pose a risk to human health: “There’s no solid answer but there’s cause for concern.”

Dr Lai has published a number of studies indicating that radiation emitted by cell phones may pose a health hazard.

He found a loss of short-term and long-term memory among rats exposed to radiation similar to what a person experiences in talking on a cell phone for an hour.

His research also showed that brain cells suffer genetic damage from the same kind of radiation emitted by cell phones. Such DNA damage is a precursor to cancer.

However, according to Dr Lai, no one has studied the long-term effects of living near cell towers.

He says he will not live next to one himself and worries about exposing young children, whose “cells are still dividing”.

In an interview with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Dr Lai said he advises people to use cell phones if they need to and concedes that a link to cancer has not been proven.

“It’s difficult. It’s like the beginning of the tobacco lawsuits. It took a long time to establish a cause-and-effect relationship,” he said.

“Research is a slow process. Scientists are always conservative, too. Nobody will say, ‘That’s a fact.’”

On the other hand, the American Cancer Society insists that “several theoretical considerations suggest” cell phone towers are “unlikely to cause cancer.”

According to the group, the energy of the radio waves from cell towers is not enough to alter molecules in the body. In addition, public exposure near cell phone towers is “not significantly different than background levels of radio frequency (RF) radiation in urban areas from other sources, such as radio and television broadcast stations.”

Measurements and experiments conducted around the world have shown that the transmitter power levels from cell phone towers are relatively low. In addition, experts say it is a misconception that propagation of more towers increases the risk of radiation exposure. In fact, this can result in lower radiated power since the distance between the transmitter and receiver is lower.

To protect people living near cell towers and users of cell phones, governments and regulatory bodies around the world have adopted safety standards which translate to limits on exposure levels above a certain value. The most widely used of these standards are the ones set by the International Committee for Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) which have been adopted by more than 80 countries. The ICNIRP recommends two safety levels - one for occupational exposure, another for the general population.

In this country, the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT) is responsible for licensing all radio-transmitting equipment. The body has adopted the standards on safe RF emission levels established by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the United States. TATT has mandated that all radio-transmitting equipment, including those controlled by the mobile telephone companies operating in this country, be operated within the limits imposed by these FCC standards.

According to the TATT, the maximum permissible exposure (MPE) limits to which people in this country are exposed are “well below levels generally accepted as having the potential to cause adverse health effects” and “provide a substantial margin of safety”.

A recent TATT advisory on the issue states: “TATT has included these limits in the concessions and/or licences that authorise companies to operate in Trinidad and Tobago and will monitor RF levels on an ongoing basis.

“The erection of towers constitutes development under the Town and Country Planning Act (Chapter 35:01) and therefore requires the prior permission of the Minister responsible for town and country planning.

“The Town and Country Planning Division (TCPD) has formulated a policy which includes site development standards and location criteria for the erection of towers. These standards regulate among other things, tower location, height and distance from buildings and residences and take into consideration the visual impact of these structures and their potential effect on residential amenity values.

“The policy also addresses the issue of towers constructed over the last two or three years without the necessary approvals.”

Before they can erect new tower facilities, mobile telephone companies operating in TT require permission from several agencies — TATT, TCPD and the relevant municipal corporation or local government authority.

The companies are also required to invite objections from the public on towers to be constructed. These objections must be forwarded to TATT.

On receipt of an objection, the TATT will address matters related to RF emissions and the objection will be forwarded to the TCPD. At present there are 38 such objections before the TATT.

At the international level, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended a precautionary principle to be applied becaused of the “high degree of scientific uncertainty” about possible health risks from cell phone towers. The principle recommends taking “action for a potentially serious risk without awaiting the results of scientific research”.

Recommendations include minimisation of cell phone usage, limiting use by at-risk population, such as children, wider use of hands-off and earphone technologies such as Bluetooth headsets and adoption of maximum standards of exposure, RF field intensity and distance of cell phone tower antennas from homes.
SUZANNE SHEPPARD Sunday, April 9 2006
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Source: Dr Roi Ankhkara Kwabena

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