My Turn: One night only! The Safe Cell Tower Show returns to Buckland


Published: 7/25/2022 4:29:10 PM

It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” — Upton Sinclair

It will be sitting room only this evening at what will likely be the last hearing for the Upper Buckland cell tower. Residents who prefer or are not able to gather in public spaces will again experience challenging participation on Zoom. And the residents will again be wondering … am I not allowed to speak about health impacts? Is there a gag order? Who instituted the gag order? Their lawyer keeps referencing “The Telecom Act” in a vaguely threatening way. I am too busy feeding my family to read “The Telecom Act” and even if I did … would that help?

That’s right, Vertex Towers LLC and Buckland’s very own consultant Fred Goldstein set the plate in their opening statements with blanket assertions to the effect of “this is safe,” “it’s safe,” etc. Having followed this issue with rapt attention since my wife was injured by “safe” levels of microwave radiation in 2010 and joined the rapidly growing ranks of a group of people deemed expendable (at least by some) called “electro-sensitives,” it’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry. I could understand repeating the telecom Industry mantra “more research is necessary,” which at least has the ring of a true statement while helping to shield the industry from (more) legal liability. Of course, Big Wireless also tells their shareholders to expect significant financial losses in the courts because of wireless harm. The insurance industry refuses to cover that risk — including for Buckland. You could say Big Wireless (and little Vertex) are “self-insured.” This is an easy gamble for a trillion dollar industry — not so much for a small town or its board members.

Let’s jump into the top four reasons the Safe Cell Tower Show is must see hearing.

1. Mr. Goldstein, an otherwise capable telecom consultant has negatively compared the health effects of cell towers to another western Massachusetts pastime, “fixed wireless.” The relevant document is available at and was produced when pesky residents raised health concerns about installing microwave towers in Hawley, Monroe, Savoy and Florida. It states: “. . . fixed wireless is the only type of Internet system which focuses its transmissions on specific receivers. Cell, satellite Internet and satellite TV all broadcast their signals in every direction, making them less safe and more difficult to manage.”

2. By employing a lawyer who is able to be folksy and down home one minute while reminding planning boards of his Telecom Act upper hand, Vertex has made a great choice in Fran Parisi. Unfortunately, as stated before, Fran has no medical credentials. His job is to make money, as in “get board approvals.” Recent successes in Rowe, Colrain, Conway and Ashfield attest to the power of the Vertex “formula” (mix and stir as needed): a) find an out of town landowner or at least someone who really needs the money b) compare yourself favorably to those uncouth giants AT&T and Verizon (even though you’d be happy to sell the tower to them at a moments notice) c) find a local engineering firm to emphasize the “local connection” d) try to get the tower at least not blatantly, horribly right next to abutters but, you know, not far enough away to indicate you actually care about the 1,640-foot recommendation of the New Hampshire Commission on wireless health impacts.

3. Everyone in Buckland has capacity for “cell phone service” in their home . . . through their WiFi. Outbuilding? Boosters are available. Need to make a call deep in the forest? Extenders. Really remote? Elon Musk will be happy to zap you from one of his thousands of low altitude satellites. Direct cell service? Yes, Lynk (with others in line) provides cell service from space and will be coming to a smart phone near you.

4. Buckland resident Rick Leskowitz, MD states: “Thanks to an outdated federal law, the town cannot take into consideration the growing, and worrisome, literature on the health risks of exposure to non-thermal levels of microwave radiation. That law is being challenged via the court system now, but the science is becoming ever-clearer. At the very least, I would like to see a better balance between tower height and the rural character of this Scenic Byway. Vertex should calculate how many additional households are covered at various possible tower heights. Might a 115-foot tower do the trick?”

Jonathan Mirin is a safe technology educator and co-founder of Hilltown Health, an organization that advocates for appropriate cell tower siting and updated telecom by-laws by local towns. He is hopeful that local elected representatives can attend tonight’s hearing and advocate for injured abutters in Heath, Pittsfield, Ashfield, and Conway. 


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