Rally in Siem Reap over ‘harmful’ cell tower

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A mobile phone tower under construction in Siem Reap province on April 5. Photo supplied

A group of 61 families in Siem Reap province’s Slakram district are protesting the installation of a cell base tower by telecoms firm Metfone in their community. Residents believe the tower’s antenna emits harmful radiation that affects their health.

One of the protesters who spoke to The Post on condition of anonymity on April 7 said the installation of the tower had seriously affected their way of life, claiming the tower’s antenna emitted a strong sound wave that contained radiation. The radiation posed a serious health risk, especially for pregnant women.

“The authorities want to help the company to make big profits. In other countries, they bury phone lines underground. Why in Cambodia are lines not buried underground like elsewhere? Why is only the antenna installed?

Siem Reap provincial deputy governor Ly Samrith said that before issuing a permit, technicians had inspected the site, and said it produced no radiation.

“In Cambodia, cell base towers were installed in many places. If the towers’ antennas really emitted harmful radiation, it would impact all of these places,” he said.

He added that the worrying problem is the installation site. There must be appropriate land for the tower’s location and foundations, not that of radiation.

“We will send officials to explain the situation to them. But if the company conducts itself correctly and residents still prevent it from installing the tower, they will face legal trouble.

“Before installing the tower, the company received a licence from the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications and had permission from local authorities. So, the protest means obstructing a decision by the authorities,” he said.

Tol Gnak, director-general of Posts and Telecommunication, said electromagnetic waves emitted by radios, stations and antennas are non-ionising and hence do not have enough energy to permanently damage DNA or biological tissues.

“All countries in the world have also built and used antenna stations to provide telecommunications services like Cambodia. Without antenna stations, there couldn’t be any mobile phone services. If they had an impact on health, no country would have any antenna stations either,” he said.