Berkeley cell phone ordinance wins again!

The city of Berkeley won against the powerful CTIA, the wireless industry association who appealed Berkeley’s ordinance which requires cellphone retailers to provide customers with this notice:

“To assure safety, the Federal Government requires that cell phones meet radiofrequency (RF) exposure guidelines. If you carry or use your phone in a pants or shirt pocket or tucked into a bra when the phone is ON and connected to a wireless network, you may exceed the federal guidelines for exposure to RF radiation. Refer to the instructions in your phone or user manual for information about how to use your phone safely.”

The appeal was heard by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The judges determined that “there was no irreparable harm based on the First Amendment or preemption, that the balance of equities tipped in Berkeley’s favor, that the ordinance was in the public interest, and that an injunction would harm that interest.”

More information about the ordinance and the lawsuit here: http://www.saferemr.com/2014/11/berkeley-cell-phone-right-to-know.html

Fairfax Town Council letter to PG&E “Comply with our Ordinances”

Thank you to the Town of Fairfax CA who sent a letter to PG&E asking then to “cease the impending roll-out of SmartMeter installations in Fairfax.”

Fairfax writes, “By PG&E’s actions to proceed with the SmartMeter program in Fairfax, in essence, PG&E is effectively attempting to render the CPUC rehearing review process moot. Furthermore, by continuing forward on installations, PG&E will be in violation of the Town of Fairfax’s Ordinance and would therefore be potentially subject to Code Enforcement Violations.”

2-14-17 Fairfax letter to PGE – SmartMeter Installation

PG&E has threatened both Sebastopol and Fairfax with smart meter installations even though there are appeals pending at the California Public Utilities Commission, and both cities have laws banning smart meter installation.  EMF Safety Network has been quoted in three newspapers recently.

Marin Independent Journal:

Santa Rosa Press Democrat:

Sonoma West Times and News:

We have asked the City of Sebastopol to enforce the ban on smart meters and they have not responded. However, Sebastopol Mayor Una Glass opened public comments at the last city council meeting with a statement referencing the Marin Independant Journal article,“that basically said that this council doesn’t care about smart meters anymore.” She affirmed Sebastopol still has an ordinance that is not repealed and she stated, “We are concerned with the health of our citizens.”

Venice Florida neighbors beat back cell tower plan

image003VENICE, Fla. – Leaders of a coalition of Venice community groups against a proposed cell tower say they’re encouraged that the Sarasota County Planning Commission voted unanimously to deny a zoning exception for a 125-foot cell tower.  The tower was planned to be built on residential land in the Plantation Golf and Country Club community.   The tower would be visible to hundreds of residents in the neighboring Lake of the Woods of Jacaranda development.

The vote was taken at a public hearing attended by more than 100 residents of the two communities. Residents opposed to the tower wore red to show their disapproval. More than 20 residents spoke at the hearing in opposition to the tower.

image005Doug Barkley, chair of Stop Tower on Plantation, said, “A dedicated group of property owners has worked for a year to assure that a commercial cell tower was not constructed in the middle of their communities. The recommendation by the Planning Commission to deny the exception to land use creates faith in the integrity of the zoning system and the protection that it offers to property owners.”

A hearing before the Sarasota County Board of Commissioners is set for Tuesday, January 12th. The Planning Commission hearing may be viewed online at the following URL:
http://sarasotacounty.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=15&clip_id=3196

Berkeley passes cell phone ordinance!

Not on your body, not in your pants!

Photo credit: Environmental Health TrustThe City of Berkeley passed a “right to know” ordinance on Tuesday.  Cell phones sold in Berkeley will come with a safety warning:

To assure safety, the Federal Government requires that cell phones meet radio frequency (RF) exposure guidelines. If you carry or use your phone in a pants or shirt pocket or tucked into a bra when the phone is ON and connected to a wireless network, you may exceed the federal guidelines for exposure to RF radiation. This potential risk is greater for children. Refer to the instructions in your phone or user manual for information about how to use your phone safely.

Photo credit to Environmental Health Trust.  For more info and updates go to: http://bit.ly/berkeleycellordinance

SMUD smart meter burn out causes electrical failure & fire hazard

Margie Rothwell was having serious problems with the electricity in her home.  The power turned on and off for no apparent reason. The house fire alarm kept going off and the noises were scaring her dog.

She called her brother, who was a master electrician, to help her.  He found electrical lines not working and the smart meter digital readout was unreadable.  He recommended she call the utility SMUD right away, which she did.  (SMUD stands for Sacramento Municipal Utility District.)

Note: upper right meter base clip is visibly burned
Note: upper right meter base clip is visibly burned

A couple hours later, the SMUD technician came and when he got closer to the smart meter he said he smelled “burn”.

Margie recalled, “He had a very horrified look on his face when he looked at the burnt smart meter and meter socket.” The technician removed the smart meter and quickly put it in his truck, concealing the evidence.

The technician installed a temporary adapter which left her home with only 110 volts and limited power in parts of her house.

She was left with no dryer, no air conditioner, no electricity in the master bedroom, or anything that required 220 volts.

She asked the SMUD technician for a business card. He said he didn’t have one. She asked him for his name and he would not give her his full name.

The SMUD technician told Margie that she was responsible for replacing the damaged meter base, which included hiring a professional electrical contractor and getting a city permit.  Margie asked him if SMUD would fix it. He said no.

She called several electrical professionals to get estimates which ranged from $1,500-$3500.

She then searched the internet for “smart meter problems” and she found out that this is a common problem with smart meters.  In California, fire captain Ross had similar electric problems, as did another fire captain Matt Beckett.  A fire erupted shortly after a PG&E smart meter was installed in Vacaville, California which killed a man.

She contacted the EMF Safety Network director, Sandi Maurer, who connected her to Eric Windheim, EMF Safety consultant, and director of Sacramento Smart Meter Awareness.  Together they helped her write a declaration about the burnt meter and panel, the limited electricity, and her experience with the technician.

Margie sent the declaration and a demand letter to SMUD via certified mail with returned receipt. The following week Eric supported Margie at two SMUD board meetings, where she demanded they pay for the repairs as soon as possible. She reads her declaration in this audio file, at the 6:25 mark. Listen to more of her comments in this video below.
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Margie asked the board, “If SMUD’s smart meter is so smart why didn’t it send SMUD a warning message that there was a very dangerous electrical failure going on at my house? Was SMUD going to wait for the fire department to send you a report in the mail?”

Following the board meetings, Margie:

  •  Kept all communication with SMUD in writing
  •  Refused to risk having another smart meter on her home
  •  Demanded the analog meter as the only replacement
  •  Never agreed or consented to the opt-out extortion fee

The smart meter could have burned down her house, with Margie in it.  Since it caused similar hazards for other customers, she was not going to take that chance ever again.

Analog restoredNine days after she went to the first board meeting SMUD repaired the burnt panel and restored an analog meter.  SMUD paid for all the repairs, and they returned analog meter without Margie’s agreement to pay their opt-out fees of $127 plus $14 a month.

SMUD denied the smart meter was to blame for the electrical problems. The SMUD representative wrote to Margie, “What I can assure you of, is that the damage to your panel was not caused by the Smart Meter.  The origin of the damage was in the meter socket assembly.”

Eric Windheim says, “A Maxim of Law is: “Where damages are given, the losing party should pay the costs of the victor” which is exactly what happened here. Since SMUD is paying for all of this they have admitted causation.  If Margie’s wiring was really at fault SMUD would have charged her for all repair costs.”

Click here for more information on smart meter fires and explosions.  If you are a SMUD customer and have questions about smart meters contact Eric Windheim at 916-395-7336 or contact him here.

Sebastopol makes Smart Meter installations illegal- $500 fine

Try to install a Smart Meter in Sebastopol and you could get a $500 fine.

The Sebastopol City Council unanimously adopted an ordinance banning Smart Meter installation in Sebastopol yesterday.  They also adopted a resolution asking the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to allow communities to opt-out of Smart Meters at no additional cost.

Sebastopol became the 15th local jurisdiction to make Smart Meter installations illegal, along with Fairfax, Ojai, Santa Cruz, and Marin, Lake, Mendocino and Santa Cruz counties and others.

Previously Sebastopol had asked PG&E for a moratorium on installations until the CPUC proceeding was complete. PG&E wasn’t complying. Meanwhile their contractors, Wellington were sending installers into Sebastopol, with many apartment buildings and some areas already installed.

Yesterday it was reported that Wellington was installing Smart Meters in town and the police were called to the scene. Once the police arrived and talked to them, the installer left.

In stark contrast the city of Naperville Illinois has forced Smart Meter installation using the support of armed police. Two mothers were arrested.

THANK YOU to the Sebastopol City Council for their strong stand, and to the City Staff for their support.  Thank you also to the City of Fairfax, who has led the way in protecting their city from Smart Meter installations.

Chasing off Smart Meter installers in Sebastopol

Wellington, a company contracted by PG&E, is installing Smart Meters in Sebastopol despite the fact that Sebastopol has asked for a moratorium twice; that Sebastopol council supports a Smart Meter community wide opt out; and that the CPUC has a proceeding pending to investigate the possibility of community opt-out.

Senior community chases off Smart Meter installerThis morning residents at Burbank Heights and Orchards (senior housing community) and Sebastopol residents chased off an installer, who admitted he had only two weeks training and was not an electrical contractor, which is a requirement for FCC safety conditions. 83% of the residents there opposed the meters. As he was leaving he said  he was going to file a police report, and when I brought the camera out he got in his truck and left. http://youtu.be/nwSlB1y4p9k

Two more Wellington trucks installing gas smart meters were on Murphy Street. When I approached the two men they did not respond or answer any of questions.  They eventually packed up their stuff and left, putting the analog gas meter back together.

Smart Meter installers drive small white Wellington Ford Ranger trucks.  They are installing throughout Sebastopol now.  There were at least three trucks in town today.  It appears the installers have been instructed to vacate a scene if they are approached. They also seem to leave town if followed, rather than going to the next house to install.

Wellington installs PG&E Smart Meters
Wellington installs PG&E Smart Meters

If you see an installer you can ask these questions:  Are you a licensed electrical contractor? Did you know Sebastopol asked for a moratorium on Smart Meters twice? Did you know there’s a CPUC proceeding that’s investigating a community opt- out program? Did you know that the Sebastopol council supports community opt out?

Tomorrow night Tuesday Feb 5 at 6 pm is a council meeting at the Sebastopol teen center.  We can bring this issue up at public comments and see if they can take some action to ban the meters after all.

Italian Supreme Court Rules Cell Phones Can Cause Cancer

“A landmark court case has ruled there is a link between using a mobile phone and brain tumours, paving the way for a flood of legal actions.” UK Telegraph, Oct 19, 2012

Contrary to the denial of many heath agencies in the U.S. and in some other countries, the Italian Supreme Court has recognized a “causal” link between heavy mobile phone use and brain tumor risk in a worker’s compensation case.

According to a UK news source, Innocente Marcolini, 60, an Italian businessman, fell ill after using a handset at work for up to six hours every day for 12 years.  He now will be financially compensated.

Mr Marcolini said: “This is significant for very many people. I wanted this problem to become public because many people still do not know the risks. I was on the phone, usually the mobile, for at least five or six hours every day at work. I wanted it recognised that there was a link between my illness and the use of mobile and cordless phones…Parents need to know their children are at risk of this illness.”

The Italian courts dismissed research co-financed by the mobile phone industry due to concerns about conflict of interest. Instead, the courts relied on independent research conducted by Lennart Hardell and his colleagues in Sweden which showed consistent evidence of increased brain tumor risk associated with long term mobile phone use.

Last year, the Hardell research was heavily relied upon by 31 experts convened by the World Health Organization who classified radiofrequency energy, including cell phone radiation, as “possibly carcinogenic” in humans.

The evidence of harm from cell phone radiation has been increasing so it is only a matter of time before lawsuits filed in U.S. courts by cell phone radiation victims will be successful. The Insurance industry will not provide product liability insurance due to concerns that juries will find that the Telecom industry has behaved much like the Tobacco and Asbestos industries. So the Telecom industry could be faced with paying huge damages to individuals and governments.

Although 12 nations and the European Union have issued precautionary health warnings regarding mobile phone use, the U.S. has been in denial. The Telecom industry has blocked numerous attempts to pass cell phone warning legislation at the Federal, state, and city level. The industry even refused to support a bill in the California legislature by Senator Mark Leno that would simply remind consumers to read the safety information that is currently printed in their cell phone user manuals.

Only one city has been able to overcome intense lobbying by the Telecom industry. San Francisco adopted cell phone “right to know” legislation two years ago, but the Telecom industry (i.e., CTIA-The Wireless Association) blocked implementation of this law by filing a lawsuit claiming that the court-approved fact sheet violates the industry’s First Amendment rights. The CTIA also moved its annual conference from San Francisco to punish the city.

Since there are now more than 330 million cell phone subscribers in the U.S., an annual fee of 50 cents on each cell phone would generate sufficient resources to fund high quality, independent research that could promote safer technology development and fund a community education program about safer cell phone use.

For more information on the Italian Supreme Court ruling see:
Mobile phones can cause brain tumours, court rules.

Thanks to Joel M. Moskowitz, Ph.D., School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley for the press release on this issue.