Taking a Stand Part 5
Several months ago I wrote a letter to Chris Chapman, CEO of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) because the ACMA has the responsibility to regulate RF emissions in Australia based on ARPANSA’s RF Standard. The letter can be found here ACMA cover letter. I wrote this letter because I feel that in regards to smart meter communication technology a precautionary approach should have been adopted especially when non wireless communication options were available and had originally been suggested by the DPI. As power companies choose to continue deploying wireless smart meters on hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses in full knowledge of the IARC’s announcement that RF emissions are a potential carcinogen I decided to challenge ACMA as to whether they are actually implementing a precautionary principle.
Looking objectively, the unprecedented number of RF transmitters that are being deployed into our environment (mobile phone base stations are popping up everywhere, wireless smart meters on every home etc.) clearly suggests ACMA does not appear to consider the precautionary principle despite the fact that they have documentation on their website that gives a clear view of what the precautionary principle should be (refer to this document Industry Codes). Specific statements in this document appear to have been completely disregarded when wireless smart meters were rolled out in Victoria and include:
“An underlying principle of this Code is that public health and safety is of paramount importance. In the context of this Code, the precautionary principle therefore means that precautions are taken to minimise exposure to radio emissions by virtue of its possible association with health problems in order to protect people even though radio emissions at low levels have not been proven to cause such problems.“
Of course we now know that no precautions had been taken by the Victorian Government or the Power Companies when wireless based smart meter technology was originally chosen. This is further exacerbated by the fact that the continued deployment of this technology is being done in full knowledge that RF is a possible carcinogen.
“The application of the Precautionary Principle requires commitment to the idea that scientific proof of a causal link between human activities and its effect is not required.”
If only Energy Minister and the DPI understood what the above point means when they argue that world scientific opinion shows no proof of harm.
“The application of the Precautionary Principle to the siting of radio communications infrastructure should include a consideration of the uncertainty of the science on a-thermal effects.“
Why isn’t the ACMA actually following its prescriptive guidelines detailed in its code for a precautionary principle especially when cheaper wired options were available? Why haven’t they taken up this issue with the Victorian Government, especially when there are many people complaining about adverse health effects that have occurred only after their installation?
Now when it comes to the regulation of the RF standards it would appear that health and safety is indeed considered by the ACMA with the following extract taken from here Standards
“The ACMA has specific regulatory arrangements intended to:
- protect personal health and safety
- facilitate access to emergency services
- protect the integrity of public telecommunication networks
- enable interoperability of voice telephony services and
- minimise the opportunity for unacceptable radio interference”
That is until you read a little further on and you see that “The ACMA’s regulatory approach places principal responsibility for the above objectives in the hands of manufacturers, importers and authorised agents of communications devices.” This statement of course is an unexpected U-turn that is at best hypocritical and at worse an abysmal dereliction of duty of care!
The above is followed by the following text which again suggests ACMA is concerned about the welfare of the general public
“Electromagnetic radiation (EMR)
Communications devices radiate electromagnetic energy in order to deliver information over long distances and in difficult geographical terrain. High levels of electromagnetic energy may have a detrimental effect on people in some circumstances.
To minimise the opportunity for detrimental effects to occur, the ACMA is introducing regulatory arrangements that minimise the opportunity for the general public to be exposed to harmful levels of radio frequency electromagnetic radiation from communications devices.”
Of course the reality is, at least in Victoria, there is no minimisation of RF exposure with the installation, without consent, of RF transmitters in every home. ACMA then undermines the above statement with information they have on their website (Object and scope of the Radiocommunications Act 1992) which lays out ACMA’s objectives and clearly shows they are geared towards maximising revenue without any consideration of the potential health impacts.
“The object of the ACT is to provide for management of the radiofrequency spectrum in order to:
- maximise, by ensuring the efficient allocation and use of the spectrum, the overall public benefit derived from using the radiofrequency spectrum
- make adequate provision of the spectrum for use by public or community services
- provide a responsive and flexible approach to meeting the needs of users of the spectrum
- encourage the use of efficient radiocommunication technologies so that a wide range of services of an adequate quality can be provided
- provide an efficient, equitable and transparent system of charging for the use of spectrum, taking account of the value of both commercial and non-commercial use of spectrum
- support the communications policy objectives of the Commonwealth Government
- provide a regulatory environment that maximises opportunities for the Australian communications industry in domestic and international markets and
- promote Australia’s interests concerning international agreements, treaties and conventions relating to radiocommunications or the radiofrequency spectrum.”
As you all can see, there are no signs of the precautionary principle or minimising health risks in the above objectives!
“Communications & media regulation overview
As the regulator for broadcasting, the internet, radiocommunications and telecommunications, the ACMA’s responsibilities include:
- promoting self-regulation and competition in the communications industry, while protecting consumers and other users”
The above would be similar to giving control of Tobacco regulations to the Tobacco industry! Of course the ACMA does not see any issues because all device emissions are supposed to be within ARPANSA’s RF cooking standards. Who cares about the fact that effects of multiple frequencies are additive and that their may be long-term health issues due to non thermal effects below the guidelines? We are told that world opinion suggest that such effects do not exist. There is no proof of harm….but I would argue there is no proof of safety either and there is a lot of scientific “evidence” that shows all may not be well. There are people suffering the effects of EHS because of smartmeter emissions but we do not exist in the Governments eyes because the WHO says it is not a medical diagnosis, yet the WHO acknowledge the “non specific symptoms” as being potentially disabling.
ACMA’s main principles are to manage spectrum through a balanced application of both regulatory and market mechanisms. Spectrum Management Principles “In summary, the principles are as follows:
1. Allocate spectrum to the highest value use or uses.
2. Enable and encourage spectrum to move to its highest value use of uses.
3. Use the least cost and least restrictive approach to achieving policy objectives.
4. To the extent possible, promote both certainty and flexibility.
5. Balance the cost of interference and the benefits of greater spectrum utilisation.”
Unfortunately for those who are electro-sensitives or have medical implants that can be subject to EMR interference there is no mention of a precautionary principle above or consideration for potential health implications. What I do see is the Government saying “show me the money………..”
A recent reply from Mr Chapman indicated that moral responsibility for protecting the health and safety of people from harmful effects of ionising and non-ionising radiation falls upon ARPANSA. And so we go around in circles, nobody is willing to take responsibility to investigate this very serious issue.
My next blog will cover the interactions that I have had with the Victorian Chief Health Officer, Rosemary Lester, as well as the Victorian Radiation Advisory Committee.
Steve (B.Sc. Monash)