Six hundred children could be at risk if another cellphone tower is built in Weymouth, worried residents say.
Mobile phone company 2degrees was set to begin installing a tower on top of a lamp post at the corner of Weymouth and Blanes roads yesterday.
But a public outcry forced it to review the placement and a decision is expected towards the end of the week.
A tower is already in place 350 metres down the road.
Three preschools and Weymouth Primary School would sit between the two towers if 2degrees installs the new equipment as planned, resident Brigid McCaffery says.
She’s appalled the Auckland Council granted permission for the tower to be built 18 months ago but the company only told residents three days before the July school holidays.
Residents are not against the tower as such, Mrs McCaffery says.
“We’re not saying they can’t have it at all – but put it in a more responsible place.”
Mrs McCaffery, a breast cancer sufferer, is worried about the effects of environmental toxins.
The tower would be one door down from her property but her concern is primarily for children, who she says have the right to learn in a safe environment.
A World Health Organisation report last year classified wireless frequencies as a possible cause of cancer.
“It seems to be the very low levels of radiation that are being investigated that cause all the health issues,” the report says.
“Children seem to be more vulnerable to radio frequency radiation.”
Towers have not been around long enough to see the cumulative effects, Mrs Mc Caffery says, and she’s worried that in 20 years Weymouth’s children will find they have serious illnesses because of long-term ex posure.
Resident Veronica Inch would be able to see the tower from her bedroom just six metres away.
She is all too aware of the impact man-made sources can have on someone’s health. Her husband died from the long-term effects of asbestos.
“Forty-seven years he work ed in an environment with it.”
Another complicating factor is the six-door equipment cabinet that would be installed beneath the tower along Mrs Inch’s boundary.
She is also worried about the noise it could make and has a clear message for 2degrees.
“Get the hell out of it – I don’t want it.”
Two doors down Weymouth Rd at Kids Count Education there’s great concern, centre manager Mala Prasad says.
“We want to have a nice, healthy, clean environment for our children.”
Mrs Prasad believes the antenna could emit large amounts of radiation that would affect the young children at the centre, their even younger siblings and parents.
Company spokeswoman Charlene White says 2deg rees put construction on hold after hearing the residents’ concerns and is investigating other sites.
The company understands the concerns but says its cell towers are safe and comply fully with Health Ministry standards, Ms White says.
“As discussed at the meeting with them, we need to be very careful when using emotive words like ‘it could hurt young people’ – there is no proven scientific evidence to suggest this,” she says.
The current site had been chosen because it is the most suitable, she says.
“We are confident this location is safe and will provide the best coverage to the Weymouth community.”