Opponents of MTS tower speak out

Source: http://members.aol.com/gotemf3/MB/index.htm

Informant: Iris Atzmon

(Colin Corneau/Brandon Sun) FULL STORY

Monday, October 17th, 2005

By: Robson Fletcher

Milt Bowling, left, the executive director of the Electro Magnetic Radiation Task Force of Canada, chats with MTS representative Reg Parkin prior to the start of Sunday’s public forum. (Colin Corneau/Brandon Sun).

Concerned residents met with representatives from Manitoba Telecom Services yesterday to discuss a proposed cellphone tower in the city’s west end.

The telephone company tried to reduce worries that the tower will be an eyesore and allay fears about its safety.

Jeff Nelson, a wireless planning manager with MTS, said the tower’s maximum output of 48 watts is far too small to pose a health risk to humans, especially since the transmitter will be at a height of 36 metres.

“If you go below the tower or near the vicinity of the tower, there’s very little energy coming down,” he said.

Unlike larger cellphone transmitters that emit microwaves, the proposed tower would emit lower-energy radio waves, Nelson added.

Even those emissions would be in much smaller volumes than most radio station transmitters, which can emit up to 100,000 watts.

The proposed tower’s emissions would be one one-millionth of the level deemed safe by Health Canada, Nelson added.

Still, an opponent of the presence of such towers wasn’t convinced.

Milt Bowling, executive director of the Electro Magnetic Radiation Task Force of Canada, travelled from Vancouver to attend the meeting.

He said the Health Canada safety guidelines are based on an assumption that the only way for low-frequency electromagnetic waves to harm human beings is through an increase in tissue temperature.

There may be other ways in which people could be affected by the constant presence of an emission tower, Bowling said.

“The generalization by many that the guidelines protect human beings from harm by any and all mechanisms is not justified,” he said, citing a letter written by Norbert Hankin of the Environmental Protection Agency in the United States.

West end resident Jim McCrae said regardless of whether there is an actual risk, people are worried.

“They’re genuinely concerned about health issues,” he said.

McCrae moderated yesterday’s meeting but has also publicly expressed his opposition to the tower.

“I live in that neighbourhood,” he said yesterday. “I don’t want a tower like that at the entrance to my community.”

MTS is considering putting the tower at the intersection of Cherry Crescent and 34th Street, but project manager Reg Parkin said nothing is set in stone.

“We have made no decision on the actual location other than just the general area,” he said.

As more and more people in Brandon buy and use cellphones, the company needs a tower somewhere in the vicinity to improve its cellular coverage in the west end, according to Nelson.

“We have to increase the capacity of our network,” he said. “Each tower can only provide so much capacity for conversations, and the cell sites that are surrounding this area are quite overloaded right now.”

© 2005 The Brandon Sun



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