Concerns about health risks and human rights complaints associated with smart meters have galvanized a local group to take action.
Cliff Paluck with the Kootenay Columbia Seniors Housing Cooperative said BC Hydro’s plan to replace all analog electrical meters with digital smart meters is utilizing harmful technology, and the group is now calling for a moratorium on the installation.
Representing over 100 people in the cooperative, Paluck said there were many people who felt the province’s Crown corporation had not done its due diligence on the health effects of smart meters.
“This needs to be stopped,” he said. “There are harmful side effects from the electro-magnetic radiation being emitted by the meters, 24-7.”
According to studies from around the world — the University at Albany, Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Trent University in Peterborough, Ont. — roughly 35 per cent of the population will have adverse reactions to the meters, Paluck said. Further, six per cent of the population is very sensitive to electro-magnetic radiation.
The studies listed all sorts of poor health conditions — including severe headaches, heart palpitations, insomnia, ringing in the ears — that would be created or exacerbated by the operation of a smart meter.
Through the studies, scientists warn of the dangers from the microwave radiation constantly emitted by the meters. This type of radiation has been classified as a 2b carcinogen by the World Health Organization.
This local group hopes to establish a Kootenay chapter of www.stopsmartmetersbc.ca — a non-partisan coalition to stop smart meters — and to create ties with concerned people in the Slocan Valley. Paluck said the Kamloops-based group has a legal team now working on two fronts to stop the installation of the meters.
First, the legal team issued a human rights complaint on behalf of the people with health conditions, which their doctors feel could be worsened by prolonged exposure to the radiation emitted by smart meters. Second, the legal team is working on filing a cease and desist order on the current installation program.
But the program marches on. Some people in Nelson are already feeling the effect of smart meters, with the heritage city undergoing a recent change over in its meters. One woman allegedly had to move out of her house, said Paluck, while another can’t sleep at night due to the electro-magnetic radiation.
With so many studies listing health hazards, Paluck said, it is difficult to understand why the provincial government would unilaterally pass the Clean Energy Act, which mandated BC Hydro to replace every analogue meter with a smart meter. No debate in the legislature was allowed.
According to Hansard, during an exchange in the B.C. Legislature between NDP energy critic John Horgan and Energy and Mines Minister Rich Coleman on May 31, the minister intimated the mammoth project could not be stopped.
“I’m wondering if the minister is going to include the smart meter program in that review?” Horgan asked, alluding to the ongoing energy rate review of the time.
“No, because we’re too far down the road with this particular project,” Coleman replied. “The money has been invested, so we’ll be moving down the road to continue the program.”
No meters have been changed over in Castlegar or in Trail, but expectation is the $900-million program will arrive sometime in 2012.
Those interested in joining the Kootenay chapter of concerned citizens, you can contact Paluck at firstname.lastname@example.org.