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On 27 July 2010 I received a printout of the home page of a group calling itself Dereel Anti Tower Alliance. They don't mention their names, not even how many people they are, but based on my prior experience, I expect Wendy McClelland to be at least one of the people behind it. This page is my response.


A number of people in Dereel are afraid of mobile phone towers—though paradoxically not of the handsets, which subject users to much higher levels of radiation. I first heard of this from Wendy McClelland in August 2007. She subsequently sent out a confused, hysterical, misleading and unsubstantiated sheet of paper, which I reviewed at the time. This document and the web site behind it aren't quite as confused, but they do seem to be at least as bent on misleading people. They have provided substantiations for some of their claims, but in a place where I didn't see them at first.

During my research I discovered another web site, http://dereel.com.au/, which claims to be “a local site for local people”. It's a relatively typical web forum site, and it was started a few months ago by Scott Weston. Given the population here (a total of about 669 people, including surrounding countryside), it's not surprising that the traffic is light; so far almost the only topic has been a phone tower, of which the vast majority of the participants are strongly in favour.

I believe that the DATA people have put up their web site as a reaction to dereel.com.au. The name http://savedereel.com/ is one indication, but as I mention below, some of their content appears to be a direct reaction to posts on dereel.com.au. In this connection, it's interesting that a recent poll shows that 67% of the respondents are in favour of a tower. Presumably the 32% who are opposed are from DATA: there is no article on this site opposing the tower. I find this a surprisingly small number of “no” votes. This fanatical kind of group is typically more active than average people, so you'd expect that every single one of them would have voted “no”.

A number of things are apparent about the DATA web site:

I don't go too much into the technical details in this document; I believe that there are sufficient details in the earlier document. If you find anything that doesn't look adequately substantiated, please contact me.


In this section, I'm indenting the text of the original. My own comments are left-justified.

This is not about radio waves which have been around for decades and are used for radio communications. 

Of course it is. If this document wants to use a new definition for “radio waves”, it should specify it.

They are very weak in comparison ...

Radio waves used in conventional broadcasting are much stronger than the signals used for mobile communication. A mobile phone tower typical emits 20 W, and in exceptional cases can emit up to 100 W of energy (see my previous page for more details). According to the ACMA, ABC analogue TV on Lookout Hill west of Ballarat has an effective power rating of 2 MW (2,000,000 W), and the digital transmitter has a rating of 500 kW. This difference between analogue and digital (75% less power for digital) is one of the reasons why analogue TV is being phased out. There are other pages that show that each of the six TV channels has a total output of 2.5 MW, a total of 15 MW. And there are also 16 radio stations there, all of which seem to be “only” 100 kW. That makes a total of 16.6 MW, or the equivalent of 166,000 mobile phone towers, all transmitting at full strength. My guess is that that's many times more than the number of mobile phone towers in all of Australia, all in a single place. How come people aren't dying like flies in the area?

Microwaves do not move in waves...

I wonder what they're trying to say here. Clearly it's incorrect, as even the name says.

and have a far higher number of megahertz output.

I think they're trying to say “frequency”. But that depends on the radio waves. Conventional high-power radio and TV operate at a lower frequency (between about 88 MHz and 108 MHz for radio, and between 541.25 MHz (SBS) and 625.25 MHz (ABC) for Ballarat digital TV channels, while current mobile phones run at frequencies between 850 MHz and 2100 MHz. Satellite systems, such as those we're forced to use in Dereel, run at about 12,500 MHz. But so what? Are they trying to infer that higher frequencies are more dangerous? There is some truth to such a claim, but it's all related to the overall power.

They are a different modulated pulsed signal coming out at you in bursts

“Instead of being subjected to them all the time, you only get hit some of the time”.

and a jarring effect.

The mind boggles. What does this mean? You get knocked over by a couple of nanojoules of energy?

These are far more powerful and can penetrate buildings, people and most other obstacles in their way much more efficiently than radio waves ever could.

This is just plain incorrect. I've already mentioned the effective radiated power of radio stations and mobile phones: mobile phones are much weaker. And higher frequency waves are much less capable of penetrating buildings and other obstacles. Just compare mobile phone reception with radio reception.

The change over from the old analogue system in 1997 to the digital system was the beginning of this new technology,

Yes, the changeover from the old analogue system to digital was the beginning of the use of digital phone technology. Does this say anything which is not obvious? There's not even an implication in this statement that it made any difference.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is funded by the Telecommunications Industry and Governments,

The WHO publishes detailed information about its funding sources. The most recent, for the two years 2008 and 2009, mentions each fund by name. Most are, not surprisingly, health-related organizations. I was unable to find any reference to the telecommunications industry in this document.

so is not an independent organization, and has a vested interest in protecting their industry. It has many limitations and constrictions as to what research can be made public.

By contrast, the “DATA” can claim what it wants. Unfounded claims indicate a clear intent to mislead the reader. How can they claim to be acting in good faith when making statements like that? My guess is that this is a response to a posting on dereel.com.au, which quotes the WHO as the “real experts”. This clumsy claim is trying to discredit this argument by presenting unfounded claims, a typical conspiracy theory.

The French, who blew the crap

We're not prejudiced, are we? As the head of a French family, I should take this as an insult, but how can you be insulted by people so clearly not in command of their faculties?

out of the Mururoa Atoll in the 1970's even have controls on microwave radiation exposure and recognize the health problems.

The same French? They get around, don't they? How did they find out that they were the same people? On the face of it, it seems unlikely. In one case they were in the military, decades ago, and now we're talking about the medical profession.

On 4/2/2009 the Appeals Court of Versailles upheld a previous finding that a microwave tower was causing health problems for residents so the Court of Appeals ordered it to be dismantled.

Yes, this happened. But the claims above are manifestly incorrect. The court did not find that the tower was causing health problems. The importance of this ruling was that the burden of proof was on the operator of the tower, not on the plaintiffs, as this document explains:

It observes that in judging that it has not produced any "specific" document demonstrating the absence of risk, while the plaintiffs have not complained of any pathology, the court has shifted the burden of proof onto the defendants.

This is in the case of a mobile phone tower less than 100 m from the house of the plaintiffs. But they don't have any ill effects. The issue here is a legal one, not a technical or pathological one. There's also a newspaper article on the subject, unfortunately in Norwegian. With the help of Google translate I get:

The case went all to the Supreme Court of Versailles. Here the company was ordered to remove the mast, because it could not prove that radiation from the mast was not harmful. In addition, the company must pay the family a compensation of 7,000 euros for the mental stress it has to have the mast as a neighbor.

This is a historic verdict. The most important thing is that the burden of proof is reversed. There are those who have set up the equipment must demonstrate that it is harmless, says Sissel Halm√ły the Green Warriors of Norway to Aftenposten.

So, far from finding health problems, they found no health problems under extreme situations. About the only thing it shows is that people like DATA have their rights too.

Australian Neurosurgeons Doctors Vinni Khurana and Charlie Teo have gone public on TV several times pleading with the public to reduce their mobile phone and digital exposure saying 'don't radiate your brain', 'this is becoming the 21st century tobacco problem of the past', 'no-one has been able to come forward and show me where my scientific research is flawed'. They are the specialists who tackle brain tumour operations that other surgeons say are 'too risky'.

This is talking about mobile phones, not towers. And the further the tower, the stronger the radiation from the phone. This argument is in favour of a closer tower.

John Patterson, a leading expert employed in the Telecommunications Industry, and manufactured this digital technology was sacked on the spot in 1997 when he revealed his devastating health findings in an Occupational Health and Safety report that 'the measurement' of radiation was a "dangerous occurrence". This was the highest rated danger on the O.H.& S. scale and meant that by law the installation should have been shut down immediately.

This is the only claim to which I have found a a reference on the DATA site, but it was on a different page. It's a relatively long magazine article, scanned in, and lacking technical details. About the only thing that stands out is that John Patterson had a number of illnesses which he blamed on microwave radiation, and that ten years after being sacked, he gained notoriety by stealing a tank and using it to demolish mobile phone towers. This says nothing about whether his initial assessment was correct, but the fact that every agency he contacted refused to help, and his action in destroying the towers, doesn't give me the impression that he is a particularly well-balanced person.

A leading German Telecommunications Company T Mobil did secret testing of their microwave radiation in the year 2000. Their report (kept secret until recently) showed similar findings to independent research that the standards used by Governments for exposures to the public are thousands of times too high so don't protect anyone.

So where's the link to the report?

Electromagnetic hypersensitivity is recognized in law in Sweden and Canada as a sickness and disability, which enables their public to receive benefits for their debilitating health problems.

And how is it defined? Where are the links? Given the accuracy of the claims about the one independent reference I did find, the French judgement, I don't see any reason to believe any of the other claims.

Mobile phone towers at Mt Buninyong and Smythesdale currently bring full strength digital signals to mobile phones around the CFA and open areas of Dereel. Consider how strong these mobile phone signals would be if you were living close to the towers.

This is just plain incorrect. It is sometimes possible to get reception from one of those towers, but the signals are definitely not full strength. The providers wouldn't want to waste money building a tower if they were. And as has been mentioned a couple of times, using mobile phones in fringe areas increases your exposure to radiation from your own phone.

SOS calls to emergency services can still be made on mobile phones through the satellites when signals are poor.

What kind of nonsense is that? You need special satellite phones to communicate by satellite.

Haddon's newly erected mobile phone tower is already causing residents health problems and they can no longer get radio reception as the powerful microwaves destroy the signal.

Again no references. Given that the radio signals are over 1,000 times stronger than microwave signals, and that the radio transmitters aren't very far away, it sounds very unlikely that there's any interference there.

The nano fibre optic cabling is currently being rolled out by the Government. It is designed for extremely fast broadband services which are faster than wireless connections and replaces the old phone line connection. The other option is the satellite broadband connection.

Nano fibre optic cabling? What's that? I suppose they mean glass fibre. And yes, I'd far prefer glass fibre for my purposes, but you can't use it for mobile communications. And before we get that, hell may freeze over. As to satellite broadband, that's not an option. But it does have much higher “megahertz output”.

The wikipedia site is a non-authorative site meaning that anyone can post any information they choose on it without requiring them to have any knowledge on the subject.

Agreed. In that respect it resembles the DATA web site. Even the DATA people could modify it to conform to their views. The difference is that others on Wikipedia would almost immediately revert the claims. The DATA web site contains erroneous and deliberately misleading statements that nobody can get fixed.

Like the discreditation of the WHO, this entry appears to be a reaction to an article on dereel.com.au referring to a Wikipedia article on electromagnetic hypersensitivity. This article has been through well over 500 revisions by many people, and it quotes 34 external documents. It is at least one order of magnitude more detailed than the DATA pages.

If you care about the welfare of the Dereel community, including the animals and bird life, then we invite you to join our Alliance to keep microwave radiation towers out of Dereel.

I care. That's why I wrote this criticism.

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