We often think of Austria as one of the more enlightened countries when it comes to EMF safety standards. They have the world-leading Salzburg radiation limits and the Austrian Medical Association EHS Guidelines. However, as the following story shows, the wireless industry is very powerful in Austria.
In 2007, local politicians in the town of Spittal voted to deny the placement of a cell phone tower because of the health concerns of nearby residents. The city council simply instructed T-Mobile to find a more suitable location away from the residential neighborhood. To many, this appeared to be a fair compromise.
However, what followed is an ongoing nightmare for these local heroes. The Austrian federal government has spent the past eight years suing these politicians for “abuse of power.” As the Kleine Zeitung (the regional newspaper) reports, there were 31 local officials who voted against the cell tower. Of them, three have since passed away and ten agreed to pay fines ranging from 1,500 to 25,000 Euros for protecting their constituents. 18 officials have not backed down and, consequently, have been hung up in court for the past eight years.
The Cell Tower Rebels from Austria in court in July. In Deutsch they are called the “Handymast Rebellen.”
When I saw this story I couldn’t help but wonder why the Austrian federal government is being so aggressive toward local leaders who were simply trying to protect the health and safety of their community? What is it that they are so fearful of that they must make examples of these local officials? If you read the comments section of the original article, you will see that I am not alone.
The truth is that all around the world, citizens are waking up to the danger of having a cell tower near their home. There is now more than enough evidence of harm and this puts governments and wireless corporations in quite a pickle as they continue to roll out their highly profitable wireless infrastructure.
It seems that for now, their preferred route is to deny the mounting evidence and attack anyone who stands in the way of exponential growth. As investigative journalist Norm Alster and the Harvard School of Ethics point out in the hard-hitting book “Captured Agency“, the industry’s end-game is to become “too big to fail” so that when the inevitable flood of lawsuits arrives, there will have to be a government bailout – paid for by you and I.
This is also the case in California, where industry and state government have worked together to pass even more draconian legislation that takes away all rights of local authorities to stop the placement of cell towers. Will we also see local California politicians on trial for protecting their community?
This plan – borrowed from the tobacco and asbestos industries – may work for a few more years, but people are waking up and the party will eventually end. When it does, these local rebels will be seen as heroes and those who support the roll out of wireless technology in our communities may one day find themselves in court.
Former Mayor Gerhard Köfer – the leader of the Cell Tower Rebels.
Judge Ute Lambauer who has to decide the fate of local politicians who were simply looking out for the safety of their citizens. She could impose jail sentences of 5-7 years and hefty fines upon the officials.
The Cell Tower Rebels in court in Klagenfurt, Austria (the regional capital). Local people are dismayed that the federal government has been so aggressive toward these officials, especially considering that the science increasingly supports the cell tower rebels.
The red arrow marks the spot of this cell tower rebellion. Where will the next one be?