Public Comment

The Boy Scouts: A Pact With the Devil

by Harry Brill
Thursday May 13, 2010 - 10:32:00 PM

Both the wireless corporations and the federal government have hidden from the public the substantial number of studies that reveal a cause and effect relationship between cell phone sites -- towers, antennas, and other equipment -- and their adverse health effects, including cancer. In fact, in some instances, discomforting symptoms appear shortly after exposure as well as in the long run. Nor is the public warned that children are especially vulnerable, with twice the leukemia rates for those residing near cell towers compared to children who live further away. Nevertheless, despite the corporate denial of the harm done, a growing number of communities have been catching on.  

An El Cerrito community is attempting to prevent a 77 foot tower from being installed in a boy scout camp that is located next to a residential neighborhood and a beautiful park heavily used by children and adults. The community's problem is that it is battling two goliaths; the Mt. Diablo Silverado Council of the Boy Scouts of America and T-Mobile. T-Mobile, which is a giant German based multinational corporation, that offered the Council $2200 per month for the right to build the tower. The Mt. Diablo Council, which is an umbrella organization serving over 22,000 youth in several east bay counties, agreed to the deal.  

From the perspective of the community, it is a pact made in hell. The Boy Scout facility, Camp Herms, would be funded at the expense of community residents. The life span of many residents would be threatened, family life could be disrupted, and property values would decline along with the quality of life. For Mt. Diablo Silverado Council and T-Mobile, it is business without morality.  

Those who have been involved in this bitter struggle have learned firsthand how the highly moralistic rhetoric of the boy scout decision makers is light years ahead of its deeds. The Club claims its mission is to prepare young people to make "ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes". Scouts are expected "to HELP other people at all times". But in reality, its decision to allow the tower will instead HURT other people at all times.  

In fact, the Mt. Diablo Council signed the contract with T-Mobile without adequately consulting and meeting with the community. The community has asked for meetings for the purpose of exploring alternatives to the tower that would serve the interests of both the Scouts and community. Although the task of persuading the scouts may be difficult, many contracts are rescinded without legal challenges. But the Mt. Diablo Council has refused to meet and discuss the issues with those who will be impacted. So the real and awful lesson the boy scouts have learned so far is that the commitment to be respectful is worth suspending if the price is right.  

The Scouts have claimed that the research doesn't prove that there is any serious threat to residents. Yet believe it or not, T-Mobile is aware of the health risks. The company had some years earlier retained a highly rated independent research institute to evaluate the possible impact of electromagnetic radiation. The study found the following: "Given the results of the present epidemiological studies it can be concluded that electromagnetic fields with frequencies in the mobile telecommunications range do play a role in the development of cancer."* Though the study was done in Germany, an English translation has been available since 2003. 

This was not the first time that company sponsored research has revealed adverse health effects of these electromagnetic emissions. The telecommunication industry gave 28.5 million dollars to a scientific group in 1993 who it believed that it could count on. It was headed by Dr. George Carlo who had earlier found that environmental tobacco smoke was not carcinogenic and that the highly toxic dioxin produced by Dow Chemical Corporation was not really very toxic. But Dr. Carlo turned out to be a disappointment. His team concluded that electromagnetic emissions are dangerous and carcinogenic. He reported the findings to the Industry expecting that they would make important changes. Instead, he became victim of an attempt to discredit his work and attack his reputation. 

By partnering with T-Mobile, the Mt. Diablo Council has decided for the sake of the mighty dollar to do business with a corporation that already knows from the research it commissioned that electromagnetic admissions is carcinogenic. Before it is too late, the Mt. Diablo Council should instead reflect a very different kind of ethic for the young people it serves. It should cease saying one thing and practicing another. In short, the Council should rescind its decision to sell its soul to the devil.  


* Mobile Telecommunications and Health, Ecolog Institute, April 2000 Authors: Dr. K. Hennies, Dr. H. Neitzke, Dr. H. Voigt. Translator: Andrea Klein, page 33.