parents-fear-impact-of-tower-near-schoolsConcerned mother Jodie Layton hit the pavement in Korumburra on Monday morning urging locals to sign her petition against the installation of a proposed mobile phone base station near local primary schools. C393014

By Ash’lee Charlton

PLANS by Telstra to install a mobile phone base station within metres of local primary schools and homes have been met with outrage from parents and residents.
The telecommunications base station has been earmarked to be co-located on the existing Telstra tower at the Korumburra Telephone Exchange in Bridge Street.
According to Telstra the station is to improve the mobile network coverage and capacity for customers in Korumburra and surrounding areas. NBN Co will also co-locate its equipment with the existing tower.
Telstra says they are dedicated to working with the community and will carefully consider all matters raised and will respond to those who have made submissions, but says their base stations operate well within the emissions standards set by the World Health Organisation.
The Korumburra Primary School has also said it is aware of the project, stating it has been informed some household electrical items would have more impact on the community and students.
However, local parents and residents have started a petition to have the project stopped, with fears for the health of their children.
Yesterday, (Monday) Jodie Layton, whose son Wil attends St Joseph’s Primary School in Korumburra took to the streets with the petition.
“We are concerned that this tower is too close to our children and are concerned about the health risks that are associated,” Ms Layton said.
“Many leading health experts are concerned about the exposure of these emissions; Telstra will not guarantee that they are safe and until so, should not risk our children’s health.”
Ms Layton said she only learnt about the proposal last Thursday night and was concerned that many parents she had spoken with were also unaware of it.
“On Thursday night I saw on Facebook that a friend had ‘Liked’ a page called ‘No Radiation near Korumburra Schools,” she said.
“I messaged the person that had set the page up and asked what it was all about.”
With the submissions closing today (Tuesday), Ms Layton said she woke up on Saturday morning and after speaking with her husband decided they needed to do something about it.
“We said to each other that we need to actively do something about this before it is too late so I made up the petition and in four hours walking around Korumburra we had 154 signatures,” she said.
“What’s concerning is that 99 per cent of the people that signed it were not even aware of it.
“I have had parents say ‘if it goes ahead, I will pull my children out of the schools’. That’s how concerned they are.”
Ms Layton says her main concern is the affects the radiation emissions could potentially have on her son and the other children that attend both the primary schools.
“Even though they are saying the emissions are low, the exposure regulations are based on adults, not children,” Ms Layton said.
“Children’s skulls are significantly thinner and their brains have higher conductivity which means they will be exposed to far higher levels of radiofrequency radiation.
“Our kids are at school over six hours a day, five days a week for seven years.”
Korumburra resident and the person to first to raise the concerns about the project Tony Rogers says the existing tower where the proposed facility is to be located is less that 20 metres from the Korumburra Primary School playgrounds and 150 to 200m from the main classrooms.
“According to the radiofrequency electromagnetic energy (RF EME) exposure table supplied by Telstra’s representative, Evans Planning, this puts them in the maximum electromagnetic radiation exposure zone,” Mr Rogers said.
“In addition to this, St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School and Walsh Street playgroup are also within the 200m maximum exposure zone and Korumburra Kindergarten, Korumburra Milpara Community House and Baptist Church Playgroups are also within a 500m radius.”
Mr Rogers says he has read many articles on RF and EME radiation and says he has found there is no real conclusive evidence of safe exposure levels.
“Any assurances of safe levels of EME or health effects are littered with disclaiming phrases such as, ‘insufficient/uncertain/inconclusive scientific evidence’ and ‘not known, proven or expected to cause adverse health effects’,” he said.
“It is a commonly known basic fact that the human body is a hive of electrical signals that we require to function and remain healthy.
“So why do telecommunication companies and authorities disregard the fact that even their so called ‘safe’ levels of EMR could disrupt human brain and body electrical signals, especially in the case of hundreds of pre and primary school children.”
The Korumburra Primary School (KPS) yesterday released a statement to parents and the community stating they were aware of the project and had been informed that it would not pose a significant health risk.
“KPS prides itself on providing a safe and happy learning environment for its students, staff and the community,” the school said.
“The school has been notified that the new equipment is planned for installation on the neighbouring Telstra tower to improve mobile and internet service in the area.
“The impact of this equipment in the neighbourhood is thought to be less than that of a home Wi-Fi system or microwave.”
Gippsland Telstra Country Wide area general manager Loretta Willaton said no decisions or timeframes have been made regarding the project.
“The reason we want to expand the network is to deliver 4G mobile technology in the region and bring Korumburra up to speed with other towns such as Leongatha, Inverloch and Wonthaggi that all have the 4G network,” she said.
“As we have seen there has been an increase in smart phones and tablet use and this puts a demand on the network and people are experiencing delays.”
Ms Willaton said Telstra wants to ensure there is consultation with the community over the plans.
“The World Health Organisation (WHO) set a standard in regards to emissions,” she said.
“Our base stations operate at 700 times less than recommended by WHO.”
The petition is available for signing at Lucy May’s Café, the Korumburra Newsagency, Korumburra Video and BP Petrol Station at the top of Commercial Street.
Submissions close at the end of business today.