Ukrainian town dismantles cell sites over cancer fears
A town council in Ukraine had local cell sites removed, leaving the place with almost no mobile communications. The decision was made, following residents’ complaints over health problems and increased number of cancer diagnoses blamed on the equipment.
A group of activists at the town of Yaremche, a ski-resort in
Ukraine’s Carpathian mountains, have succeeded in pressuring
local authorities into dismantling the cell sites of the town’s
two major mobile connection providers – Kyivstar and MTS.
Residents claimed the number of cancer cases increased since the
equipment was installed at the top of a chimney near a hospital
"We sought help from the sanitary and epidemiological
service,” said the town’s first deputy head, Yury Bodoryak,
as cited by Ukrainian on-line source, Obozrevatel. “They only
told us that the radiation was above normal and that was it. But
finding ourselves under pressure from the residents we had to
make that decision.”
Mobile service providers are now trying to challenge the decision
“The location of the cell site in Yaremche fully complied with all the technical and sanitary requirements for this kind of equipment, according to Ukrainian legislation,” said Mikhail Shuranov, corporate communications director at Kyivstar, as cited by website Delo.ua. “That’s why we have challenged the decision in court, as we consider it unfounded”.
The date of the hearings is not yet known. Providers hope the
authorities change their mind. They believe the place they chose
for the cell sites is the only option available taking into
account the town’s geographical characteristics. Yaremche is
surrounded by mountains, so the transmitter should be placed
somewhere in the town center for smooth network functioning.
Kyivstar provides mobile communications to 80 percent of Yaremche’s population of 8,000 people, not all of whom are happy with their cell phones becoming non-functional. Opinions are split at the town’s Facebook page.
“The authorities should solve the real problems better, like
bad roads, and not invented ones,” a user suggests, while
another one comes up with a sarcastic remark: “Prices for
carrier pigeons have soared in Yaremche.”
Still, there are those who believe the town’s authorities did the right thing.
“There truly is radiation from cell sites and everybody knows that… There certainly should not be anything like that near a hospital. The question is WHERE to move it,” a comment reads.
And this is something the town’s leadership and the mobile
service providers can’t agree upon, citing each other’s
unwillingness to cooperate. Meanwhile, many in the town are
concerned with the impact the absence of mobile communications
might have on local tourism. Hotel owners fear the situation
might cost them bookings, while travel agencies question the
ski-resort’s security, as calling for help in an emergency
In an attempt to resolve the crisis, Yaremche’s authorities
scheduled public hearings over the issue for November 4.
It’s not the first time that a local Ukrainian community has campaigned against mobile communications. In 2009, in the southern town of Belgorod-Dnestrovsky, the local authorities made a decision to switch off cellular signals.
Several hours later they were switched on again, following massive uproar among local cell phone users.
While there’s a lot of research that speaks about a possible link
between cell phone use and cancer, so far there has not been
sufficient proof of this theory.
“Studies to date provide no indication that environmental
exposure to RF (radio frequency) fields, such as from base
stations, increases the risk of cancer or any other disease.
Scientists have reported other health effects of using mobile
phones including changes in brain activity, reaction times, and
sleep patterns. These effects are minor and have no apparent
health significance.” the World Health Organisation said in
an advisory, issued in October.