Adapted from an article by Dick Lindsay, from the Berkshire Eagle here
View the Oct 5, 2021 Video at 13:00: Pittsfield Board of Health Hearing
PITTSFIELD, MA — Remove the South Street cell tower, or relocate it.
The Pittsfield Board of Health personally has asked Verizon Wireless to dismantle the Wireless Telecommunications Facility (WTF) at 877 South St. because of a number of neighbors have apparently sickened, some seriously, from a variety of illnesses, cancer possibly being one of them.
After a meeting via Zoom with Verizon representatives last month to discuss the well-documented health problems of those living close to this cell tower, city health officials said residents shouldn’t get their hopes up that the tower will be gone.
“We flat out asked them, ‘Are you willing to consider removing the tower or relocating it?’” Andy Cambi, the city’s interim health director, said during the board’s monthly meeting Wednesday. Cambi and board member Brad Gordon, who both met with Verizon, said the communications giant will consider the request, but Gordon said “it was unlikely” it would be honored.
Health Board member Brad Gordon said:
“We really pressed them to have an open mind and think about it, and they said that’s what they would do, but I don’t want to build false hope we’re moving forward in that manner,” .
The board says it will give Verizon alternative sites for the tower to consider that meet cellphone service needs and are safely further away from residents.
‘SICK IN OUR OWN HOMES’
The cell tower was erected during summer 2020, on the southerly portion of 877 South St., putting it near the Oliver and Plumb streets neighborhood off Holmes Road. The structure was activated a in September 2020 and, shortly thereafter, according to residents, especially on Alma Street, which is the closest to the tower, and the negative health consequences started immediately.
The Gilardi family is among those residents who report that they started to suffer from headaches, nausea and ringing in the ears.
Courtney Gilardi, said before the board Wednesday evening:
“For months after the cell tower started operating, we were sick in our own homes. I watched my children vomit in their beds.”
Gilardi’s teenage daughter, Amelia Coco Gilardi, noted that the health problems persisted to the point that the family was force to move out of their home several months ago. Amelia wants her life back.
Amelia Coco Gilardi told the board:
“After seven months of living out of a suitcase because I can’t live in my own home, I just want to go home and be safe in my room again.”
The Gilardi’s said that since the tower started transmitting, there has been an increase in the number of cancer cases among neighbors. While it’s unclear if the emissions from the tower are to blame, experts who have advised the board and residents said that tens of thousands of peer-reviewed scientific papers conclude that the RF microwave radiation exposure levels allowed by the Federal Communications Commission are dated and are not protective of health.
As the city and residents seek an immediate solution to this well understood problem, the Legislature on Monday took testimony on a bill to create an independent commission to study the negative health consequences of Wireless Telecommunications Facility infrastructure.
State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, who lives on Oliver Street, says the panel needs to have a balanced membership.
“It’s important the commission is not industry-controlled, but they should be represented. What we need are health experts on the commission.”
Courtney Gilardi testified in support of the commission and took advantage of her trip to the Statehouse in Boston.
“We stayed at a nice hotel, and it was the first time in seven months we slept in real beds, not mattresses on the floor. It was the first time in seven months we took hot showers before going to sleep at night, as where we’re currently staying doesn’t have plumbing to do so.”
The Pittsfield Board of Health has asked Verizon Wireless to remove or relocate the cell tower at 877 South St. to an area further from homes that still meets their business needs. Since the tower went into operation last summer, near Alma Street, neighbors have complained of various health problems, including an increase in cancer diagnoses.