NEWS

Athens losing war against mobile phone transmitters

Forests of mobile phone transmitters have sprung up in Athens. There are more than 3,000, of which some 150 continue to operate, flouting court rulings for their removal or the revocation of operating licenses. Local residents are far from happy about the transmitters, which are installed, openly or camouflaged, on the rooftop terraces of apartment blocks. In almost every neighborhood, groups of residents try to remove nearby transmitters, which they fear will have adverse effects on their health. Most cases end up in court, where mobile telephony companies protest against decisions by town planning officials to dismantle their transmitters, or request postponement of decisions revoking their licenses. They usually succeed. «This can’t go on,» says a resident of Ilioupolis in southern Athens, pointing to a transmitter installed on the roof of his apartment block. «Next door there is a school, sports fields, the Vrahon Theater. Who can say that this radiation is harmless?» Eighteen months ago, the prefecture’s town planning directorate ruled the structure illegal, ordered it dismantled within 30 days and imposed a fine. The National Telecommunications and Postal Commission also imposed penalties on the company that had illegally installed the transmitter. The company lodged an objection, and an appeal court found in its favor. «The problem is that the decisions cannot be implemented; this is an issue that the new draft bill has not resolved,» lawyer Costas Diakos of the Pan-Attica Committee against the transmitters told Kathimerini. «Removing the transmitters is not within the jurisdiction of the municipalities, so dismantling them is subject to broad interpretation by the town planning authorities.» Giorgos Tsaprounis, PR officer for the TIM mobile telephony company, rejects the suggestion that the transmitters are dangerous. «In all countries and cities, the transmitters are installed within the urban fabric,» he told Kathimerini. «The companies are following the scientific community. If the World Health Organization changes its data, we’ll conform with the new limits. Of course mobile telephony developed very rapidly in Greece and some mistakes were made.»