Wireless broadband provider iBurst believes it has definitive proof that a base station it operates in Fourways, north of Johannesburg, is not to blame for health problems afflicting some of the residents there.
Residents of the Fourways community of Craigavon have threatened to take iBurst to court to have the base station removed, alleging that radiation from the tower has made them ill. They also claim that iBurst did not follow the correct procedures in erecting the base station. (See “Furious Fourways residents head to court over iBurst tower“.)
Now, iBurst CEO Jannie van Zyl (pictured) says the company had quietly switched off the Craigavon base station. “During the period all these health complaints were made, the tower was never actually switched on,” he says.
Van Zyl also refutes claims that iBurst did not follow the necessary environmental approval process.
He says that during a meeting with residents on 16 November 2009 — six weeks after the tower was switched off — the residents again claimed that their ongoing health problems were caused by the tower.
“A number of residents and/or their staff confirmed that they were still experiencing symptoms such as rashes, headaches, and the like, and that these symptoms disappear when they leave the vicinity of the tower,” Van Zyl says.
“Residents quoted periods of hours, or, at most, two days to see an improvement in the symptoms experienced. One lady who showed us a rash claimed that when she went home for the weekend, the rash disappeared. Another said headaches disappeared when she went home at night.
“However, at that point, the tower had already been switched off for many weeks,” Van Zyl says.
“It became apparent that the tower could, in no way, be the cause of the symptoms, as it was already switched off for many weeks. Yet the residents still saw symptoms that came and went according to their proximity to the area.
“Whatever caused their symptoms, it was now a fact that it could not be the iBurst tower.”
The base station was switched back on in the second week of December, Van Zyl says.
Craigavon resident Tracey-Lee Dorny, whose house is next to the iBurst tower and who has been spearheading the drive to have the tower removed, was not immediately available for comment.
Dorny told TechCentral previously that at least 40 people had developed symptoms she believed could be ascribed directly to electromagnetic radiation from the tower. — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral