Lake Tahoe Press Goes Nuclear on Towers


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With a front page photo emblazoned “Tower or terror?” followed by a headline slugged “cell towers kill?” the Tahoe Daily Tribune covered a heated debate over 30 small cells proposed for the area. The article ran in Friday’s edition with a variety of views, many of them positive about cell sites in their community. The only reference to health concerns, none of which, by the way, mentioned being “terrorized” or “killed” by towers, coming from a group called the “Concerned Citizens of South Lake Tahoe.” The group apparently sent emails to the city, but none of their claims nor research backing those claims, is cited in the article.

The article quotes the county’s public health officer who noted, “Few definitive human studies between cancer and cell towers have been done,” said El Dorado County Public Health Officer, Dr. Nancy Williams. She followed that statement to the Tribune by mentioning the American Cancer Society’s declaration, “at this time, there is very little evidence to support this idea” (that cell towers cause cancer or other health problems). 

“Several studies have looked for a possible relationship between cellular telephone use and the development of cancer; the data is not conclusive,” said the area hospital’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Matthew Wonnacott, of Barton Health.

Meanwhile, excerpts from the article carry a series of positive statements about cell towers from various sources:

  • “Without good cell service, the community is in higher danger during an emergency.”
  • …“cell service is bad in South Lake Tahoe”
  • …“many tourist attractions rely on cell service”
  • …clients come from the Bay Area and need to be able to work from home, so bad cell-service can be a deterrent.
  • …the large cell-tower might have a positive impact on home values.

Tribune Editor Bill Rozak told Inside Towers although the headlines were, ”a bit sharp,” he felt the article was balanced, but he would welcome a guest editorial. He said commentary from his readership stressed an overwhelming concern for health and safety. South Lake Tahoe is 140 miles northwest of Ripon, California, site of the “cancer-causing” monopole, as reported in Inside Towers, where it was later proven that groundwater was the actual cause of the outbreak.

By Jim Fryer, Managing Editor, Inside Towers

November 26, 2019

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