The population of the parish of Santa Luzia, in Tavira, have been outraged at the existence of several telecommunications antennas installed in the residential area, since 2003.
The equipment is placed a few metres from homes, when regulations say that they must be far from residential areas. And the discontent of those who live near these antennas is based on a single point: the population relates the existence of that equipment to the growing number of cancer cases among the local population.
In recent years there have been reports of approximately 30 cases of illness, in which half of the people have already died. And many continue to fight the disease.
This scenario led the president of the Santa Luzia Parish Council, Carla Martins, to present a petition last May at the Tavira City Council. However, Martins has been unavailable to speak to news agencies, contacted twice – on consecutive days – by cell phone, when she, for scheduling reasons, set a time for a reporter from Postal do Algarve to contact her again. But at the agreed time, and on both days, the cell phone was turned off. Dissatisfied with this, the reporter also sent a text message to the president of the board, reiterating the desire to know what she had to say.
As yet, they did not receive any response to the SMS or return the phone call.
Soon after the installation of this equipment, some people raised their voices of discontent. But the number of antennas has not decreased. On the contrary. “Recently some gentlemen came here to install more antennas, but several people rebelled and they left. But later, without anyone noticing, they came back and finished the work”, Carlos Belhy, former president of the Board.
“People act like this because they are afraid of what could happen to them. Many have died in recent times”, says one of the most heard voices against the existence of antennas close to homes. “We know the antennas are necessary, but place them far away from here. These people need to live in peace.”
One of the cases that most shocked the community was the diagnosis of oncological disease in a child, just six years old at the time, the granddaughter of a well-known doctor in the parish, which led the minor's parents to abandon the house where the family had lived until then.
According to Carlos Belhy, the mayor of Tavira has been confronted with this reality in several municipal assemblies. “She said she can’t do anything because the land is private, but that’s not justification. The law also says that the last word belongs to the president of the municipality, who confirmed that he had not recently authorized the installation of any antennas”.
The councilor argues that explanations should be requested from the entities responsible for the antennas and demands more supervision and the urgent removal of the controversial antennas. According to the former president of the Board, only the first antennas were placed with municipal authorization, around 20 years ago. “They even came to my house to measure the radiation, which hit my daughter's room more intensely.
When the results came out, they told me that the radiation levels were very low and could not cause any damage, but no one ever showed me these conclusions”, reports Carlos Belhy, who also owns a house next to the antennas.
Local authority wants to know what the risks are for the population
The Mayor of Tavira, in response to some questions posed by Postal do Algarve related to the fears of the population of Bairro Social de Santa Luzia, confirmed that “the infrastructure installations of radiocommunications stations have been licensed since 2003 under the terms of the DL n. 11/2003”, adding that “the owner of this structure did not provide the municipality with any communication regarding the replacement of the antennas”.
Therefore, Ana Paula Martins asked the Chamber's inspection service to “try to identify the company that develops the installation and operation of the antennas, so that a request for clarification on the equipment in question can be addressed, namely the technical characteristics”.
Finally, the mayor says that she asked ANACOM, on 8th August this year, for “several clarifications in order to assess the risk to the health of the population, especially those residing in the vicinity” of the antennas.