Antigua St John's - Nearly three weeks have passed since Caribarena’s last article regarding the cell phone towers in Antigua & Barbuda.
Since then, we have received no word from Minister of IT Edmond Mansoor or LIME, and contacting Clement Samuel of the telecommunications division has also proven unsuccessful. It seems that those in power are quite determined to keep the people of Antigua & Barbuda living underneath cell phone towers.
But how does one respond to such silence, if not with a louder cry? Caribarena again sent its team to conduct measurements in specific locations, where towers are not just inside residential areas, but mere yards from people’s homes.
The first of these towers is located in Golden Grove, and operated by LIME, which is renting the space for the tower from one of the residents. There are about 7-10 houses located underneath this tower, where they are continually being exposed to microwaves.
Caribarena’s team used a Spectrum Analyzer and an RF Field meter, both of which can measure the strength of microwaves in various frequencies.
Watch Caribarena TV’s video, “Are we Living in a Microwave?”
If you’ve seen Caribarena TV’s video, then you know the readings taken in Golden Grove far surpass the safe limit. We have shared our findings with the people in power, yet the minister of Information Technology is unable to answer.
Minister Edmond Mansoor has chosen to ignore us. But we did not choose him for his role. The people of Antigua & Barbuda were not given the option to select an individual they deem worthy to take on the task of minister of IT. It was rather Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer who chose him, and now the responsibility falls on the prime minister’s shoulders.
PM, you selected this minister for us. Where is the justification? Why is it that when an issue does arise, your chosen minister ignores your people? Why is he still sitting in his seat after handling the situation with such childish arrogance? Why haven’t you stepped up to the plate, as our chosen leader, and taken matters into your own hands?
In the days prior to Caribarena’s first article, Telecommunications Officer Clement Samuel was easily accessible. Calling and exchanging information with him was not an issue. However, since the publication of Caribarena’s first article in the series, “Are we living in a Microwave?" Samuel has not returned any of the calls or messages left for him. It is this inability to absorb criticism and lack of responsibility that holds us back as a country.
Samuel has been sleeping in his shoes, and it is under his watch that Antigua has seen the rise and continued existence of many cell phone towers. In addition, despite the unavoidable global debate regarding cell phone tower safety, Samuel has failed to bring forth an adequate telecommunications bill that will keep us safe from the cell phone companies. Could it be that Samuel was told by his superiors not to speak to Caribarena? Are these superiors defending an interest other than public health and welfare?
However, even worse than the previous two cases is the lack of interest and disregard shown by LIME. Public Relations Officer Paula Lee forwarded Caribarena’s questions to Leeward Islands LIME manager Davidson Charles. However, this was weeks ago, and Caribarena is yet to hear any response from the company. LIME has sent out numerous press releases, including information on upcoming service improvements.
But a response on the vital issue of cell phone towers seems too much to ask of the company. It is interesting to note that LIME operates more and shorter cell phone towers than any other cell phone company. However, Digicel and APUA PCS did respond. What does this say about LIME? Are the answers to the questions sent to LIME so difficult to conjure, or are those answers simply unfavorable to the company?
As stated above, Digicel and APUA PCS did respond to Caibarena’s enquiries. Digicel’s response is that its cell phone towers are placed and operated in accordance with the IRPA/INIRC International regulations. Firstly, the “IRPA/INIRC” is not an organisation; it is a document developed by ICNIRP, the International Commission for Non-Ionizing Radiation. Secondly, the document regulates VDUs, or Visual Display Units. These have nothing to do with cell phones, cell phone towers, or electromagnetic fields. The IRPA/INIRC is attached to this article, and can be downloaded directly from Caribarena.
Digicel’s response also states that the company considers several factors, ”such as the location of the tower; its proximity to other Digicel sites; the height of the tower/rooftop and the height above sea level – as well as the distance to areas where coverage is required.” Digicel also maintains that the company takes all necessary precautions to ensure that none of its 30 antennas are placed near schools, hospitals, or medical centres. However, the placement of several powerful antennas on the roof of Antigua Plumbing and Hardware Center in Ottos suggests leaves us with concern.
APUA PCs has attempted to evade the issue by referring us to research that seems to imply that there is no health hazard attached to cell phone tower microwave radiation. The research referred to was based on the WHO’s 2006 findings. Since then, however, the WHO itself has reversed its previous position, and now states that cell phones are possibly carcinogenic (cancer-causing) to humans. This change in the WHO’s position invalidates the evasive response submitted by APUA PCS.
Meanwhile, in neighboring Dutch Sint Maarten, the Bureau of Telecommunications and Post is currently executing tower scans on strategically chosen tower sites island-wide. This comes only weeks after Caribarena’s publications referring to the dire threat posed by cell phone towers. Although a link to Caribarena’s articles was not officially posted, the timing of these scans indicates that responsible regulatory agencies have recognised the need to monitor and enforce cell phone tower regulations.
Interim Director of the Bureau of the Telecommunications and Post Peggy-Ann Brandon has said, “Regulation of the telecommunications industry is exactly what these scans are all about.” The Bureau has engaged a foreign-based company to carry out the scans.
This stance differs markedly from the lack of engagement shown by the Telecommunications Division and Minister Edmond Mansoor. Ignoring the issue seems to be exactly what they are all about.
Keep in mind that many countries have already begun opposing cell phone towers and companies. These include France, Austria, Trinidad and Tobago, India, Taiwan, and others.