Sat, Jun 02, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Activists ask for tighter controls on phone towers

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

A woman surnamed Kuo holds up her father's photo in front of the Executive Yuan yesterday to protest against the government's failure to regulate electromagnetic waves. Kuo says her father died of cancer after cellphone towers emitting electromagnetic waves were installed by a local church near their home in Chiayi City.

PHOTO: LIU HSIN-DE, TAIPEI TIMES

More than 20 environmental protection activists petitioned the Executive Yuan yesterday, requesting the government lay out stricter measures regulating electromagnetic waves (EMW).

"The regulations governing EMW are not strict enough. Unfortunately, the government will not do anything about it," said Chen Jiau-hua (陳椒華), chairwoman of the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union.

"As there are an increasing number of cellphone towers, the electromagnetic waves are getting stronger in the environment. It is quite ridiculous that the government is now planning to establish more than 10,000 WiMAX towers before we have laws for EMW related issues," she added.

WiMAX stands for "worldwide interoperability for microwave access." It aims to provide wireless data over long distances, in a variety of different ways, from point to point links to full mobile cellular type access.

In its petition, the union submitted five requests.

It asked the National Communications Commission not to issue operating licenses for any WiMAX towers before the government guarantees that their EMW are harmless and requested that existing cellphone towers decrease their strength to six volts per meter.

Those aged 16 and below must not be allowed to use cellphones, the group suggested.

The group also asked the government to postpone the establishment of campus wireless Internet networks before the technology is proved to be harmless and relocate cellphone towers, power stations and high-voltage power line towers away from campuses, residential areas and hospitals.

The union provided a list of people who had died of cancers, which they alleged were related to EMW pollution.

The union said that the people lived close to Chianan Church in Chiayi City, which has a large cellphone tower on its roof.

The statistics provided by the group showed that 12 residents died of cancer between 2004 and this May.

"There is insufficient evidence to prove that these residents died from the effects of electromagnetism, but no one can guarantee that their cancer had nothing to do with it either," Chen said.

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