• 11 FEB 10
    • 0

    #1214: Telstra caught out with deceptive assurances of safety

    After being relatively quite lately in Australia as far as mobile phone tower protests (with the notable exception of an army tank being used to take out a number of towers by a disgruntled former Telsta employee) it seems that Telstra’s recent mishandling of a concerned community in Bardon, Queensland has backfired on the carrier in a big way.

    Telstra’s spin doctors should at least read industry advice on how to handle controversial issues. According to a new industry slanted report on risk analysis “Risk Governance Deficits” ( See Microwave News, Beyond Risk and reason, Feb 6, 2010: http://www.microwavenews.com ) it is recommended not to “provide biased, selective or incomplete information about potential risks, especially from stakeholders who may seek to advance their own interests”. Telstra telling the community that the tower will actually reduce RF levels at the school by 50% and expecting them to believe it was not a good example of public communication, to say the least!

    Telstra should also take on board the recommendations of the 2008 report by The U.S. National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council (NAS/NRC) that public involvement in environmental decision-making is more likely to improve than undermine the quality of agency decisions. The report found that even though scientists may be in the best position to make technological based decisions, public values and concerns are important to frame the scientific questions asked and ensure that decisions address all of the issues relevant to those affected. The report goes on to say that when there were cases of public involvement making matters worse, it is usually when participatory processes were set up to divert the public’s energy away from criticism and into activities that were considered safe by an agency. The report concludes, in part, that the improper use of public participation to avoid conflicts on important issues is counterproductive in the long run.

    Don

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    Suburb in uproar over Telstra tower claims
    Article from: Daily Mail
    http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/story/0,,26700180-3102,00.html
    Trent Dalton

    February 09, 2010 11:00pm

    BARDON residents fighting a planned Telstra mobile phone base station 170m from Rainworth State School say they have been fed lies and misinformation by Telstra.

    In a November 2 letter, the telco assured residents that, based on an electromagnetic radiation report commissioned by Telstra, the proposed tower would reduce existing EMR levels at the school by 50 per cent.

    But a new independent National Association of Testing Authorities EMR report, which was commissioned by Brisbane City Council, reveals that if the proposed Telstra installation went ahead radiation levels at the school would be “at least 60 times higher” than the current levels.

    The fight against the tower has swept up ordinary mums and dads across Brisbane’s west. Residents up to 80 years old are walking the streets handing out information leaflets.

    Through regular meetings and sausage sizzles, a $15,000 legal fighting fund has been raised to help push for a national “no towers near schools policy”.

    Last week the battle was raised on Channel 7’s Sunrise program, prompting more than 6000 hits to the “No Towers Near Schools” website. “This latest development is so incredibly insulting,” says Sandra Boland, Rainworth State School P&C president and mother of four.

    “It’s been subterfuge right from the word go. The whole community has totally lost faith in Telstra. The only statement they have made to us that we actually do believe is that they can’t guarantee the safety of our children.”

    Telstra maintains there is no conclusive scientific evidence that 3G and 4G technology towers pose health risks.

    But the Leukaemia Foundation and neurosurgeon Dr Charlie Teo have urged “prudent avoidance” of EMR exposure. Bardon residents are now taking the fight to Federal Parliament, rallying communities across Australia to enforce responsible location of mobile phone towers.

    Allan Asher, chief executive of the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network, predicts “a forest” of similar towers across Australia.

    Despite requests from Brisbane City Council and the State Government to find an alternative location for the Bardon installation, Telstra is proceeding with its Gerler St plans.

    Telstra has told The Courier-Mail: “This decision was not made lightly, and follows consideration of community feedback and the availability of alternative locations.”

    A Telstra spokesman said the company had not received a copy of the independent report and “looks forward to being able to review it with Brisbane City Council and the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency when it receives a copy. An open review is important to ensure the assessment is conducted in accordance with the ARPANSA methodology.”

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