Hartford, CT - Verizon Targets Minority Community to Deploy Hazardous 5G Antennas
[HARTFORD, CT] - Verizon's 5G small cells are of grave concern to residents of Hartford, CT who allege that such wireless infrastructure will devalue their properties, mar the aesthetic integrity of the area, and pose serious health risks to a community already struggling with illness.
On January 28th, residents called on the Hartford City Council to support Gladys Moreno Fuentes’ plea calling for the Connecticut Public Utility Regulatory Authority to deny the installation of a Verizon 5G node just 65 inches from her property. Ms. Fuentes, a social worker and member of the Hartford Coalition for Safe Technology, is a 22-year resident of Hartford and has emerged a leader in the fight to protect her community from being blanketed in Verizon’s mini 5G cell towers.
“I am not a scientist and I’m not an engineer and I’m not an expert. But I am a Hartford resident, a mother, and a grandmother,” said Ms. Fuentes. “I am deeply worried about how a 5G antenna outside of my home, beaming radiation into my bedroom window 24/7, will affect me, my family, and my neighbors.”
Frank Clegg, former president of Microsoft Canada, joined the meeting to validate Ms. Fuentes’ trepidations about 5G, citing independent, peer-reviewed studies that link chronic exposure to wireless radiation to cancer, neurological issues, and reproductive health complications in humans.
During the meeting, Sharon Lewis, Executive Director of the Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice, said, “Environmental Justice communities are routinely targeted for sacrifice zones to either launch new technologies or to site an undesirable, unhealthy land use. Exclusion from the decision-making tables, lack of proper notification, and exposure to disproportionate levels of pollution exemplify the long and troubling legacy of systemic environmental racism that is still going strong today.”
Other speakers in support of Ms. Fuentes’ 5G complaints included Dr. Paul Héroux, PhD and Occupational Health Program Director at McGill University; Dr. Timothy Schoechle, PhD and Senior Research Fellow with the National Institute for Science, Law, and Public Policy; Zoe Berg, Project Director of Americans for Responsible Technology; and Cynthia Jennings, Civil Rights Attorney and former Hartford City Council member.
Two representatives of the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA), David Maloney, Director of the CTIA’s Local Affairs, and physicist Eric Swanson of the University of Pittsburgh, gave a nearly 2-hour-long presentation and both downplayed 5G risks.
“It’s no surprise that Verizon wants to install a 5G antenna in a community of color in the South End of Hartford. This is just one more example of environmental racism in a city that has had enough,” said Hasion Gaston, Community Organizer with Community Action Works and Hartford resident. “It’s time that the Hartford City Council speaks out against this project and listens to community leaders who are fighting to protect our health.”
At the end of the nearly three-and-a- half-hour-long discussion, Connecticut State Representative Ed Vargas reflected on the evening, expressing his disappointment that the industry put forth such dishonest and misleading presentations.
Here were Representative Vargas' remarks:
“…I was also disappointed in the presentation of David Maloney and also the presentation of Eric Swanson who brought the science and schooled us on heat - and how if we feel a little hot under the sun we just go under the shade of a tree - as if we were able to escape microwaves in our homes by moving to the shade of a tree.
I found myself questioning this because I served on the Children’s Committee and I would always ask people, “Why are we putting carcinogens in baby food that mothers are feeding to their babies?” And I would be schooled by scientists from the industry who would say to me, “Well Representative Vargas, you’ve got to realize that that was an experiment with mice. Human children are different from mice. And besides, that study was with one micron, this was 0.5 micron in the baby food. And I said, “Well why is it in the baby food at all?” And they would say, “Well, it extends the shelf life – so instead of lasting a couple of weeks it would last a couple of months. This saves money for industry and keeps the shelf life longer. And I would say, “Well how come you don’t list these carcinogens on the list of ingredients?” And they would tell me things like, “Well, you know, we don’t want to scare people away.” I said, “Well a mother has a right to know what she’s feeding her baby.”
And so, I’m not impressed by these people who say they are scientists for industry. They’re normally on the pay roll of industry and say things they have to say. We all remember the tobacco industry had scientists and doctors that told us tobacco was safe for decades.
But I do appreciate the presentation that I heard from Frank Clegg who worked from Microsoft Canada. I appreciated what Dr. Héroux said. I appreciated what Tim Schoecle said. Because they’re coming at this from a different point of view. They’re coming at a point of view of telling us what they can do to protect peoples’ health and that we should be precautionary before we rush into things...
But I am left with more questions than answers. And I think it’s important that when I get back to talk to my colleagues up there at the State Capitol, that all of us have to be educated on this issue because it’s such an important issue.
I’d like to tell some of those people who don’t think that this is dangerous to see how they would like to stick their head into a microwave oven and keep it there for a few minutes. I think this is dangerous. I’m convinced that the speakers that spoke to us in the last portion seem to me more sincere and honest than those who spoke to us in the first portion of this meeting. So, I am going to be pursing this issue…
Frankly, I am very disappointed with the State of Connecticut’s PURA system and what they’re doing. I feel like that they’ve just gone along with the lobbyists for the industry, which is probably what’s happening in Washington in Congress. But now we have a new President. And hopefully our Congressman, Jon Larson, and our two U.S. Senators, Chris Murphy and Dick Blumenthal, will be able to take this battle for us. And let’s take the fight for the fiber optics. I think that it makes sense. I think the science makes sense. And I think we should be precautionary when it comes to our peoples’ health…”
Hartford Coalition for Safe Technology is a group of concerned Hartford, CT residents working to prevent a Verizon 5G small cell antenna from being installed in residential areas throughout the City of Hartford due to health risks, property devaluation concerns, and aesthetic issues.
Community Action Works works side by side with everyday people to confront those who are polluting and harming the health of our communities. We partner with the people who are most impacted by environmental problems, training them to make positive changes in their own backyard. Learn more at communityactionworks.org.