A plan from BBC Broadcasting Inc. to build five 150 ft. AM radio towers in Point Roberts, Washington has encountered more opposition than intended and has now turned into a major legal battle in U.S. Courts.
With the proposed five 150 foot towers the potential health impacts, blanketing interference and impacts on the environment and wildlife, the neighboring communities have come together to resist the proposal. The heavily forested 10-acre lot is just a few hundred feet from the Canadian border.
Back in May of 2012, a construction permit was granted by the FCC allowing KRPI to change the city of license from Ferndale, Washington to Point Roberts Washington, and to increase its night-time power to 50 kW, to improve reception in Metro Vancouver. This station, also known as Sher-E-Punjab AM 1550, has a multicultural format which serves South Asians living mostly in Metro Vancouver.
When the community became aware of the project, an uproar of opposition began and has snowballed into a massive coalition against the towers. With ongoing supporters, the Cross Border Coalition to Stop the Radio Towers, has continued to raise enough money to pay legal fees as needed to fight their cause. Benefits, community events and websites created to raise enough money to fight the ongoing appeals and keep the towers from being built have been very successful so far.
The Mayor of Delta B.C. stated, “This is a tremendous victory for our community. The level of engagement, lobbying, and hard work undertaken by many concerned Delta citizens, who banded together and worked in concert with us against this proposal, has truly paid off. By working together with our citizens, we have achieved the desired outcome we sought.”
The Point Roberts community members have numerous opposing points of view in their ongoing campaign to stop the radio towers from being built. Not only does the intended broadcasting station have an audience outside of the United States, it has already been accused of causing interference in households from its antennas operating in Ferndale Washington.
The station admitted that the broadcasting over the last ten years has led to “blanketing interference” for Ferndale residents. Blanketing interference is common in the Ferndale area and consists of causing toasters, radiators and other electrical/metal items in homes nearby to broadcast music, as well as phone interference.
Health concerns are the priority of the opposition, and although sufficient studies and data exist it appears that the closer a child resides to a high wattage radio tower, the higher the rate and occurrence of leukemia.
Radio broadcasting is the distribution of audio content, using the electromagnetic spectrum in the frequencies of 300 GHz – 3 kHz. The type of electromagnetic radiation from radio towers is non-ionizing, which can produce “non-mutagenic” effects. Non-ionizing radiation is less harmful than ionizing radiation which can cause cancer and health problems.
Non-ionizing radiation only carries enough energy to excite an electron to a higher state, but not enough energy to completely remove an electron from an atom or molecule. Radiation itself is dangerous, and children and fetuses are more sensitive to radiation because as they grow their cells are reproducing, as this occurs there is a greater chance of radiation disrupting the process of growth.
The Whatcom County Planning Department recommended approval of the Conditional Use Application to proceed with construction, but Michael Bobbink, the Hearing Examiner of Whatcom County, has denied the application citing the proposed height of 145-150 feet exceeds height requirements of the Point Roberts Special District. The matter was then brought to the Skagit County Superior Court under an appeal, propelling the Coalition to defend it’s residents against this intrusion. The fight to stop the radio towers continues.
Article: “Amy Jones | HCTA”
Editor: “M. Danmole”
Image: “Delta Optimist | Vicki Huntington | SLT”