School puts a cell phone tower on top of a classroom–way too close for comfort
Ever since the first cell phone tower erected, people voiced their concerns about the effects that the invisible radiation waves from cell phone towers are having on the human body. Over the years there have been many studies showing just how safe cell phones are and just as many studies showing how dangerous these radiations are.
The simple fact is that cell phones have not been around long enough to understand the long-term health effects. With this in mind, I am noticing a new trend that has me concerned – cell phone towers appearing in schools.
I am particularly concerned about a tower currently being erected within 3 meters of classrooms at the Orchards Primary School inside the residential suburb of Orchards. The school is mainly used by kids from Alex and Soweto who are transported long distances to attend school at a school with decent facilities.
Upon investigation I discovered that the tower is owned by a company called Eaton Towers which is a company that buys sites to erect cell phone towers on and then rent these towers to the cell phone operators be it MTN, Vodacom, Cell C, 8ta or other wireless service providers that require a high-site for their equipment . According to their website: “Eaton Towers was founded in 2008 by Sanjiv Ahuja (ex CEO Orange), Alan Harper (ex Vodafone UK MD) and Terry Rhodes (ex Celtel co-founder). Eaton is a truly independent London-based infrastructure-sharing company owning and managing towers across Africa.” Capital International Private Equity Funds (CIPEF) is Eaton’s majority shareholder, while London-based private equity group Development Partners International and Eaton’s management team also owns stakes.
In February 2012, a notice was circulated to the residents of Orchards that there was an application to erect a tower at Orchards Primary School. The community raised 80 objections which were hand-delivered to Johannesburg council but despite these objections, the council surveyed the site and approved the tower.
The local community pleaded its case with the school and even offered to pay them what they had secured from Eaton Towers being a monthly rental amount of R4000 per month. However the school was not able to exit the contract as they are bound to 10 year contract (even though Eaton Towers can give 30 days notice and exit the contract) The school claimed that it was not informed of any potential health risks. The school was also offered by the local resident that they would pay to relocate the tower to the fields away from classrooms but this offer was rejected as they claimed it would have caused a delay.
Mark Chertkow, an electrical engineer, stats that “one should be 400m from a tower if possible – other guidelines are at least 50m. The RF [Radio Frequency] field is inverse proportional to the square of the distance from the source ie. proportional to 1/radius squared so 1m away is proportional to 1:1, 10m away divide by 100, 50m away is 1/2500 of the field strength.” Mr Chertkow has measured a tower at Houghton Golf Course which was pulsing at 980uW/sqm and decaying down and then back to 980 again.
So in Summary:
Whether or not the radiation pulsating from the equipment on the tower is indeed harmful or not is a discussion all on its own and not the point here.
I am particularly annoyed that a school, whose primary concern should be its learners, does not seem to be taking this issue seriously. Attempts to speak to the school were not successful.
I can not understand why the school did not do their own research to be assured of safety. Surely this is something that a quick Google search would have brought up as the tower company is not going to volunteer any information in this regard.
Whilst I understand that the school might not have the legal funds to try cancel their contract, I can not understand why they are not taking more active steps like talking to the council or talking to ICASA. At the very least, agree to relocate the tower to the school field and away from both learners and residents.
With no absolute conclusion to the safety debate, people choose to err on the side of caution. Much like living next to power lines, people prefer not live next to cell phone towers…just in-case…
would you want to live in the red zone ?