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January 17, 2010

Meeting Wednesday for Walnut Heights parents and neighbors to air concerns about new wireless tower and possible radiation risks


Walnut Creek School District officials will hear Wednesday evening from Walnut Heights Elementary parents and neighbors about a plan to install a large wireless antenna near the school’s playing fields and private homes.


The antenna will allow an internet provider, Washington-based Clearwire Corp., to convert existing wired broadband Internet customers to its wireless system. According to neighbors, the school district hopes to earn about $40 per day from allowing the antenna on its property. The project was discussed at the district's January 4 board meeting.

Some residents opposing the project say these wireless broadcast Internet antennas are like a cell phone broadcasting towers, “but typically more powerful.” They are concerned about potential health hazards associated with allowing this kind of tower, one that would emit electromagnetic radiation 24 hours a day, to be built near a school.

They note that cell phone towers themselves, as a general rule, are not placed near schools, according to the brochure that opponents are handing out around the neighborhood. “Growing evidence shows that even small emissions from cell phone towers are dangerous to human health … and studies show that living within a quarter mile of such antennas increases cancer three to four times.”

“Studies suggest that children should be kept at least 1,300 feet from such emitters” and that “Los Angeles County is stopping all such installations near schools,” the brochure says.

One resident of Bellows Court, which runs directly east of the Walnut Heights school playing field, e-mailed the school district, expressing concerns about possible health risks. He said that the proposed tower would go up 350 feet from his bedroom window.

He also warned of a decline in real estate home values in the neighborhood, because of potential health risks and because the tower would be unattractive.

I e-mailed the Walnut Creek District’s Superintendent Patty Wool and Director of Construction and Maintenance Stuart House for more information about the project, including any reports or studies that have so far been produced. I didn’t receive anything by the weekend, other than a notice from House about the Wednesday evening meeting which will take place 6:30 p.m. in the Walnut Heights multi-purpose room.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't schools be in the business of teaching our children? I don't want them to be in the business of renting out school property for antennas or any other thing.

Anonymous said...

Radio waves are on the low end of the energy spectrum - far below infrared (heat) and even light. The effect of any electromagnetic transmission decreases with the square of the distance from the source. So, if you are concerned about the health effects of the radiowave source, include the wattage of the source in the calculation and compare the wavelength to that of visible light or shorter wavelengths (which would be far more damaging).

Would parents want to keep their kids from walking to school in daylight?

If this discussion were about radiation that had enough energy to cause damage to cells in th ebody, I would agree. Then we would be concentrating on higher energy radiowaves such as ultraviolet rays or even more powerful X-rays. Totally different.

Castle Hill Bill said...

I wonder how many of the concerned parents have wireless routers broadcasting a radio frequency (RF) signal inside their houses 24/7? How many carpool moms are using their 'Tom Toms' while hauling around a Suburban full of Girl Scouts? How many of these youngsters are using cell phones when they are out and about or cordless phones at home? How many of these kids go to church? I know of three churches in the area, one on San Miguel, that have cell phone antennas in their steeples. Did PG&E put a new Smart Meter on your house yet? There is an RF transmitter/receiver on each one those!

The dangers of RF have been studied since Marconi was playing with a crystal. We do know that continued exposure to high powered RF transmissions can cause serious health problems in people, however this is not that kind of site. The detrsctors would have you believe that another Sutro Tower is being constructed.

I did notice SM that you didn't mention the name(s) or sponsor(s) of the studies that the the opposition base their claims on. Maybe they should use their I-phones and Blackberrys to Twitter the residents near the 'tower farms' on top of Rudgear Hill and the top of Summit Road asking them how they have been fairing health wise since those antennas have been installed near their houses.

For aesthetic reasons, I wouldn't want an antenna near my house, but I wouldn't keep it off school property if it is sited in compliance with FCC rules and industry safety standards for RF emissions and can be screened/camouflaged to minimize the negative visual impact to the neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

Castle Hill Biil,

Thanks for the cogent argument.

Anonymous said...

Health & visual impacts aside, $40 bucks a day? Let's do some serious research to determine the true value that tower will provide to the business owner. Afterward let's negotiate.

Anonymous said...

Let's see. The school district needs money, that we all know. Did this proposal just 'drop in the school district's lap?" --an opportunity for a company to get something they want when if the fiscal situation was different, the school district wouldn't even be considered? Anyone read the Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein.

There are about 3,100 students in the district, and this would bring in about $15,000 each year-- $4.83 a kid per year. Wouldn't it be better for the community to come together and brainstorm some ideas that would help the district. Then each of those ideas could be weighed based on their own merits....esthetics included.

I wouldn't want a 'butt ugly' antenna tree on my school property if it could be easily located elsewhere ---we've all seen them, no matter how they are 'camouflaged', they're still an eyesore. On top of a building, no problem. But right in the line of sight toward a beautiful open space... Not really ideal.

I went and looked up the school board's meeting summary, lovely how they described the meeting this Wednesday as a 'parent meeting'. It should be for the entire community.

Oh, and just a comment about the safety. Hard to know how the wind will blow on this topic years from now. WiFi is convenient. But... Remember the nuclear bomb testing in Nevada...those were supposed to be safe also...then people started getting cancer. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Downwinders

LeftCoast said...

Both my kids have been offered $50 a day to wear tin foil repeaters on their heads while at school a la Al Franken on Saturday Night Live.

Should pay for their college education.

Anonymous said...

The EMF from overhead power lines is also potentially dangerous. There is now a law in California that you cannot build a substation within 300 yards of a school - but there is one built right next door to WCI...

Anonymous said...

Dear Crazy,

You're an abrupt movement for spreading this kind of Luddite nonsense.

You know what an abrupt movement is...

"Jerk"

Masterlock said...

The government is putting this up so they can read our thoughts! Put up your tin foil wall paper immediately!

AKA Soccer Mom said...

Dear "Jerk",

Just telling readers what these parents and neighbors are concerned about. I appreciate Castle Hill Bill sharing his knowledge on the issue.

BTW, what's with all those power towers near WCI?

Take care,
Soccer Mom AKA Jerk :)

Anonymous said...

7:54pm,
Don't kill the messenger. It's a valid news story. A similar story about a proposed communications tower in Lime Ridge Open Space was reported by Soccer Mom and local papers last year.

Anonymous said...

The fake pine tree "in" Lime Ridge Open Space was actually proposed on the Newhall Reservoir property which is owned by CCWD. It's not exactly "open space".. it just happens to be surrounded by Lime Ridge.

Anonymous said...

If there is uncertainty about the health threats to our kids, let's not play Russian rhoulette with our kids health. I am amazed and appalled when I hear of some parents from the school who are prepared to accept the miserable dollars this will bring to the school, and risk their kids health. Even worse, one K parent in particular is distributing emails harassing parents to vote in favor of the tower. How can she sleep at night!

Anonymous said...

How did this meeting go? I was unable to attend tonight but am strongly opposed to this antenna and amazed that some parents would actually want this.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I attended the meeting after we received notice that very evening. Many could not attend since they too where not informed and could not make plans for a sitter or do research on the subject. I find that unacceptable the community was given last minute notice. The ClearWire representatives where unable to answer our questions and continued to site old FDA regulations of 1996. It was a shoddy display of interests in their part about OUR concerns. This community already has WiFi - there is no new benefit having this ugly tower. I certainly don't begrudge a corporation trying to make a buck in this economy. However, one must realize that again, the school gains little in this deal monies that can be raise without ClearWire's permanent stream pointing at our houses and children. Do your research, this is not your regular WiFi constant stream, it has stronger more powerful radius. The FDA regulations people love to quote also stated at one time X-Rays where not harmful and many drug stores had one for parents to X-ray their kids feet, it took quite few years before the truth came out, it didn't help those who became sterile or lost their thyroid. You surely know about Asbestos right? One cigarette company loved advertising it when they added it to their brand - ALL in accordance to FDA regulations.

We don't need this and we don't want it. And ClearWire representatives are the only ones to gain from it, not the neighbors, not the children. MOVE it elsewhere!

Anonymous said...

http://gizmodo.com/5177322/giz-explains-how-cell-towers-work