Tuesday, August 19, 2008

EMR Policy Institute opposes merger

Mobile Communications Featured Article
August 14, 2008

EMRPI and IBEW Oppose Alltel / Verizon Wireless (VZW) Merger
EMR Policy Institute (EMRPI) is formally opposing the Alltel (News - Alert) / VWZ merger by filing a Petition to Deny at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which sets the policy for RFR exposure to all workers who come in contact with antennas in their workplaces. The petition says thatFCC ( News - Alert) has not addressed the impact of long-term exposure to RF radiation (RFR) on human health as mandated by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
Under the law, regardless of employment category, all mobile carriers have a non-transferable FCC license requirement to protect workers from RFR harm. Workers who install and repair mobile phone antennas are required to be trained and alerted to dangerous RFR levels. In contrast, third-party workers are left ignorant and defenseless in the wireless workplace. EMRPI officials believe that job site workers are quite likely to be in a direct line with the antennas' RF beams and get exposed to RFR at levels 200 times stronger than holding a cell phone to their heads.
EMRPI officials emphasize that there is a double standard for worker protection in FCC's RFR safety guidelines. According to the FCC policy, workers who work directly with antenna equipment must have specific training and protection equipment. The officials point out that no equivalent training is provided for construction and maintenance workers or for painters and window washers whose bodies come in close contact to antennas on the sides of buildings. In fact, even firefighters don't know if the antennas they encounter at fire sites are emitting RFR.
EMRPI President, Janet Newton, said that currently FCC policy leaves thousands of workers unprotected. Their petition opposes the Alltel / VZW merger until VZW implements an RFR safety solution that protects all categories of workers near VZW's antenna sites.
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) has also filed comment protesting the Alltel / VZW merger on worker safety grounds. IBEW represents nearly 750,000 workers in every state in fields including utilities, construction, telecommunications, broadcasting, manufacturing, railroads and government. According to IBEW, if FCC approves the merger, it should grant the applications subject to the condition that the merged company immediately adopt a nation-wide RF safety system that protects all workers.
Officials added that the risk for the workers is multiplied when antenna sites are camouflaged and despite this fact the municipalities continue demanding stealthing of antennas from public view as it supports the public's desire not to see antenna.
"EMRPI opposes the Alltel / VZW merger until FCC updates it RFR safety requirements to protect all workers and the public," stated Newton.
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Anuradha Shukla is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Anuradha's article, please visit her columnist page.