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Monday, 16 December, 2002, 09:16 GMT
Health fears over phone mast
Police in Dungannon are investigating the incident.
The mast forms part of NIE's communication system.
People living near a telecommunications mast in County Tyrone, which was destroyed by vandals, have said they believe it is responsible for cancer-related illnesses in the area.

The mast, which stands in the Upper Cranlome Road area of Ballygawley, was cut down on Saturday evening.

The mast forms part of Northern Ireland Electricity's (NIE) communication system.

It is also used by several mobile telephone companies.

There have been a number of other people in that area who have had cancer and obviously local people are very concerned

Anthony McGonnell
SDLP

Sinn Fein Councillor Sean McGuigan said the claims should now be investigated.

"It would take a lot of correlation between doctors and hospitals and records to try and identify the number of deaths that have occurred and try to see if there was a particular thing linking those deaths," he said.

"I think what has undergone in some other areas, south Armagh for example and north Belfast they are trying to do something similar at the moment with regards to telecommunications.

Scientific research

"Hopefully we could link up with those people and see how they went about it and maybe learn from their experiences."

However, speaking on behalf of all five mobile phone companies, Mike Dolan said scientific research proves that mobile phone masts meet international safety guidelines.

"The science on this particular issue has been extensively looked at by groups around the world and by the Stewart group in the UK two years ago," he said.

"That group which comprised about 12 scientists from around the UK concluded that the balance of current research evidence suggests that exposures to these radio waves below levels of international guidelines don't cause health problems for the population."

SDLP councillor Anthony McGonnell said a local man in his 50s with seven children had died last week from cancer.

He added: "There have been a number of other people in that area who have had cancer and obviously local people are very concerned that this epidemic is being caused by the presence of that mast."

Police in Dungannon are investigating the incident.

Detectives have appealed for anyone who was in the Upper Cranlome Road area at the time of the incident and who saw any suspicious activity to contact them.

A spokeswoman for NIE said the vandals had put themselves at risk and left the company's communication system vulnerable.

Many communities across Northern Ireland have campaigned against phone masts over fears that low level radiation could pose a health risk to people living near the ariels.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC NI's Tara Mills:
"There is worry over the number of local cancer cases"
BBC NI's Julian Fowler:
"The mast was a prominent local landmark"
Mike Dolan of the FEI:
"These radio waves do not cause health problems"
See also:

15 Dec 02 | N Ireland
15 Jun 01 | N Ireland
02 Nov 00 | Health
30 Jun 00 | Health
Internet links:


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