The Ripon Unified School District (RUSD) is working with Sprint to move a tower near Weston Elementary after four students and three teachers were diagnosed with cancer and parents voiced their concerns, reported the Modesto Bee. Some parents pulled their children from the school, and approximately 200 parents attended a recent Ripon school board meeting to demand action.
In a prepared statement, board president Kit Oase said tests done on the tower found it was operating normally within safety standards. Additionally, Oase noted that RUSD receives a negligible amount of revenue from providing campus space for the tower.
Richard Rex, whose family lives across the street from Weston School, said a bump appeared on his 11-year-old son’s abdomen a month ago and was found to wrap around his liver. He said his son’s classroom is near the tower.
According to Oase, the school district sympathized with the families, but the district has no out clause in the 25-year lease agreement with Sprint. The district and Sprint will have to mutually agree to a relocation of the tower, reported the Bee.
Adrienne Norton, representing Sprint, said the company’s goal is providing wireless service that keeps businesses and residents connected in Ripon.
“When it comes to the deployment of network infrastructure, we always strive to achieve a win/win process with local municipalities and residents,” Norton wrote in an email to the Modesto Bee. “We have been working with the community in Ripon to address their concerns.”
According to notices posted by RUSD, the school district hired engineers from Hammett & Edison Inc. for an evaluation in 2018 on the cell tower’s compliance with guidelines for limiting human exposure to electromagnetic radiation. The testing found exposure levels for people nearby were below the federal standard, per the notice.
Parent Monica Ferrulli, who watched her son’s cancer relapse last year, countered that parents arranged for testing that showed much higher readings. The Cochran law firm of Los Angeles has been hired to look at health effects of the cell tower and also water contamination as a possible source. “We are not so naive as to rule out other environmental factors,” Ferrulli said.
March 14, 2019