• 26 MAY 06
    • 0

    A Cautionary Tale: The Capalaba Post Office

    Before the RMIT building EMF controversy is written off as ‘case-closed’ with both Radiofrequency and ELF magnetic fields being given the all-clear, it is worthwhile to consider another cancer building scare that I was briefly involved with which took place about 5 years ago at the Capalaba Post Office in Queensland.

    In that case, there was a reported high incidence of cancer and other illnesses. Apparently, over the previous 10 years, out of 53 full-time staff, 25 had developed cancer or auto-immune diseases, at least four had died and others had serious illnesses. Counting part-time workers, 25 percent of the workforce have developed illnesses since 1998. The concerns of the workers was that there was an Energex electricity sub-station next to the Post Office and they were wondering if there was EMF coming from the substation that could be the cause of the illnesses.

    Preliminary ELF magnetic field testing around the post office and the electricity sub-station indicated that the levels in the Post office were generally quite low ( below 3 mG by memory) When I was asked to comment on the measurements I said the building readings were generally low, but there were areas of concern in the staff lunchroom and at the front counter. I concluded that “At this point, you can’t say that it is an electromagnetic field problem. The best I can say for now is we have looked at the electromagnetic field angle and there are a few areas of concern.” One of my concerns was, according to the building plans of the PO, that the building’s concrete slab was poured over two electrical earthing pads that served as the return circuit for the substation. However spot readings at the time did not indicate a problem and I left the case at that point. As it turned out however (see below) it can be very misleading to just rely on spot readings and this should serve as a cautionary tale for RMIT.

    With the Capalaba PO however there were additional confounding factors, mainly previous soil contamination from a nice mix of petrol, arsenic and PCBs, so trying to find a single cause for the apparent cluster of illness was impossible and most likely a combination of environmental factors making for a very sick building.

    For more on the Capalaba case see:
    Cancer danger at Australian mail centre: Postal workers demand inquiry and relocation


    and: Interview with Australian postal worker: “Hell will freeze over before I believe that these illnesses are a coincidence”


    However, as a result of the current RMIT situation, I received an email today from one of the CEPU’s consultants who had worked on the Capalaba PO case and who had further examined the EMF angle in the building. Exerpts follow:

    Hi Don, JS here. I did some consulting work for CEPU on the Capalaba Post Office anomoly which had a cluster of terminal illnesses which was very significant [in my view] – but ‘swept under the carpet’ by Comcare Australia ………. in the early part of 2002.

    The issue there was ground current [referred to as stray voltage by some] and its relationship to off-peak signals sent to the nearby transformers. MilliGauss readings taken most of the time were not especially damning, but when the off-peak signals arrived, Gauss meters went off scale and ELF fluctuations were so unstable and large they were difficult to measure. We concluded that the monitors needed to be continuous over a minimum period of [at least] 24 hours and preferably weeks or months. The point is – the readings can be timed to miss the relevant data. Unfortunately, we did not have the equipment and funds to continue the investigation…………….. Just pointing this out in case it’s relevant to current researchers………… Regards, JS

    Leave a reply →