Written Answers. - Communications Masts.

John Gormley

Question:

222 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Public Enterprise if her attention has been drawn to the scientific evidence of adverse low level effects of non-ionising microwave radiation from telecommunications masts, Vienna EMF Resolution, and that the State could be liable for compensation for the health effects suffered by individuals living near these masts; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1581/99]

I am aware of the Vienna EMF Resolution which was issued following a symposium on mobile phones and health in October 1998 and which claims that the biological effects from low intensity exposures are scientifically established. I am also aware that this claim of the resolution has proved to be controversial among the scientific community, as the bulk of research on the issue of non-ionising radiation has not shown any such link.

The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Public Enterprise and Transport issued a report on Non-Ionising Microwave Radiation Emissions from Communications Masts in December, 1998. The Joint Committee concluded that the evidence available at present does not indicate an unacceptable health hazard from microwave emissions within the IRPA (International Radiation Protection Association) guidelines".

The IRPA guidelines are applied in Ireland through the licences held by mobile telephony and MMDS operators. It is a matter for the Director of Telecommunications Regulation to ensure compliance with these requirements.

I do agree with the Vienna EMF Resolution's proposal that further research be carried out in this area, and my Department will be monitoring international developments and, as necessary, participating in the comprehensive programs of research being undertake to ensure that the most up-to-date standards are applied to emissions in this country.
With regard to the Deputy's point about indemnification, as I have stated before, the Joint Committee recommended that the licensed operators should examine the issue of indemnification with a view to providing same as soon as possible and where possible.
I would agree with the Joint Committee that the issue of insurance indemnification is one for the operators themselves to consider and, as such, I have no function in the matter.