Resident concerned with proposed cellphone tower

Published on September 17, 2013
William Burgess looks at a map of a proposed cellphone tower that Eastlink is looking at building on an adjacent property to Burgess's in Bible Hill.
Raissa Tetanish - Truro Daily News

BIBLE HILL - A proposed cellphone tower for Ryland Avenue isn't sitting well with some residents in the area.

William Burgess and his wife, Carrie, have sent a letter voicing their concerns to Colchester County council, Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley MP Scott Armstrong, and other interested parties, including Eastlink, the company proposing the tower.

"We got a notice in the mail from Eastlink regarding the proposed telecommunications tower and at first, it wasn't all clear as to where that could be going," said Burgess, 37, a father of three boys under the age of seven.

"The letter didn't name the specific street address, it only had a PID number. To the average person, that PID means nothing."

Pulling out a map of his property, a property that's been in his family for more than 100 years, Burgess realized the proposed 42.7 metre monopole would be only a couple hundred feet from his home.

"Those things aren't safe," he said of the cellphone towers. "Cellphone towers are seen in other areas - you would expect to see them on a lonely mountain top and away from houses."

In the letter he composed, Burgess said there have been a number of studies he has come across with evidence linking long-term exposure to radiofrequency (RF) energy from cell towers with cancer and other health problems.

"Health Canada's own website states, ‘In 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified RF energy as "possibly carcinogenic to humans,"' the letter said.

"Even if it says ‘possibly carcinogenic,' do we ignore that potential, or do we err on the side of caution and say, ‘let's be safe?'" Burgess said.

"A lot of people are fearful of these towers. Even as a child, I always heard people saying never buy a home near the big towers like the ones you see in the fields because you can get cancer."

Allan Sullivan, community relations advisor, said he's had contact from one resident with concerns over the tower.

"I did send some information on Health Canada regulations," Sullivan said. "Ultimately, Health Canada regulates the health and safety surrounding exposure of cell phone towers and we do operate within those regulations. Our towers are well below those regulations actually."

Sullivan didn't have any particulars about how much power and the output of RF energy the tower would emit, but said they would fall in the parameters of ‘Safety Code 6' through Health Canada, which has established safety limits for human exposure to RF electromagnetic energy in the frequency range from 3 kHz to 300 GHz.

Burgess confirmed he did talk with Sullivan and that Sullivan sent him information linking to studies showing there are no health effects of cellphone towers.

"But I have seen studies from India, Germany and Brazil showing there are cancer clusters around those towers," Burgess said, noting he found that exposure limits in China, Russia and India are "100 times more stringent than Safety Code 6."

Burgess met with Colchester County Mayor Bob Taylor on Tuesday.

Just after meeting with Burgess, Taylor said he is always willing to meet with residents when they have concerns, especially when it comes to the health of those residents.

"We're always concerned if someone has concerns about their health," he said.

"I've asked him to make a submission so it can be brought before council so we can have our staff look into it further."

Taylor also noted that the proposed tower has met all the regulations set out before them, including those regulations by Health Canada.

"Eastlink is always very diligent with those regulations and the proposal is within the limits that we have now," he said.

Residents with any questions or concerns can get in touch with Sullivan.

"We are still in the process of getting information together and will continue to share that information," Sullivan said.

For those with concerns, Sullivan can be reached at (902) 789-9954, or community.relations@corp.Eastlink.ca.

rtetanish@trurodaily.com

Twitter: @TDNRaissa