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UMTS mast to be removed from Troelstra School

Alex van Veen

4 October 2006 – The UMTS/GSM mast at the PJ Troelstra School must be dismantled immediately. This was decided unanimously by the Slotermeer/Geuzenveld district council during an emotionally charged meeting Tuesday night.

The decision puts an end to one and a half year of struggle by parents who fear that the electromagnetic radiation of the mast harms their children’s health. Recently, it became known that a current and a former student as well as a teacher have been diagnosed with brain tumour.

Although there is no evidence that the diseases have been caused by radiation, this possibility cannot be ruled out either, because no research has been done on long-term effects of radiation, let alone among children. This stirred up emotions during the past weeks. At an information meeting last Monday, various parents expressed their anger.

The meeting made it clear that there is a deep distrust of the school management and the district administration, which had installed the UMTS mast in 2005 without the consent of the parents, who were not even told about it. In exchange for putting up the mast, T-Mobile pays the district a handsome fee of 6,000 euro per year. Alderman Piet Dikken (Social-Democrat PvdA), who is also a member of the school board, is responsible for this.

During Tuesday night’s council meeting, it became clear that the parents feel betrayed. The speeches of the council members – with the exception of Livable Slotermeer/Geuzenveld (LSG), the party that had put the issue on the council’s agenda and that had proposed a motion to immediately dismantle the mast – were met with scorn and cynicism.

In order to sidetrack the LSG, PvdA, the Green Party (GroenLinks), the conservative VVD and the Christian Democrat CDA had themselves proposed a motion, which initially was less specific than the LSG motion. It urged that the mast be moved first, and dismantled before the end of the year. In response, the estimated 200 people who attended the meeting yelled ‘tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow!’ Further, the motion stated that there is no causal link between the children’s health and the radiation of the mast.

During the interval of the noisy meeting the motion was swiftly adapted to the mood among the public, it seemed: the district administration is ordered in the new motion that was passed to immediately have the mast dismantled and to set out a time path for the procedure to be followed. There is no longer any mention of moving the mast to another location. Because “no political argument can compete with so much emotion”, PvdA party leader Robby Rijssel said.

After the meeting, Rijssel walked around the hall with a grin on his face, urging neighbourhood residents to vote for his party in next month’s elections. This seemed to fall on death ears, for not his party, nor GroenLinks, CDA and VVD, but LSG had exerted itself during the past year and a half to get the mast removed. Apart from the neighbourhood residents who spoke at the meeting, LSG’s Richard M. van Schaik was the only person whose words were met with a warm applause.

UPDATE 4 October 2006 - The telecom provider T-Mobile, which has a network covering the whole Slotermeer/Geuzenveld district, refuses to cooperate in dismantling the GSM/UMTS mast. This would be against the law, the company announced today.

Apparently, the district council has passed a motion that had been formulated in a hurry, without a proper legal basis. This to calm the residents who attended the meeting. “Even though a member of the executive board of T-Mobile was present yesterday evening when the motion was passed”, Van Schaik of Livable Slotermeer/Geuzenveld (LSG) says.

LSG will go to court on Thursday if the mast is then still standing at the roof of the school building.


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