* European Greens on LFAS - Soldier's health damage due to radar radiation recognized as injury at work - Emergency radios can jam patients' lifelines  (24/11/02)

TramŤs per Klaus Rudolph (Citizens' Initiative Omega)

European Greens on LFAS

13th EFGP Council Meeting - Brussels
Resolution Adopted by the European Federation of Green Parties on Saturday 16 November, 2002

Demanding a moratorium on the deployment of High Intensity Active Sonars including Low Frequency Active Sonar (LFAS) by the US and NATO navies

Whereas Low Frequency Active Sonar (LFAS) is soon to be deployed in 75 per cent of the world's oceans by the US and NATO navies as a technology to detect modern submarines;

Whereas grave scientific concerns exist that deployment of LFAS and other high intensity active sonars pose a significant threat to marine mammals because the high levels of decibels used could cause death from lung hemorrhage or other tissue trauma; temporary or permanent hearing loss or impairment; disruption of feeding, breeding, nursing, acoustic communication and sensing or other vital behaviour; whereas similar concerns also exist for the potential impact on other marine species;

Whereas these concerns are increasing after mass strandings of whales on several occasions when * not by coincidence -naval exercises took place in the vicinity, in the Aegean Sea (1996), around the Bahamas (March, 2000) and around the Canary Islands most recently (September 2002);

A) Taking into account the lack of adequate empirical data and proper research into the effects of the deployment of Low Frequency Active Sonar (LFAS) and other high intensity active sonars by the US and NATO navies;

B) Recognising the potential impact on commercial fishing and the already depleted stocks throughout the world's oceans;

C) Acknowledging that the deployment of LFAS and other high intensity active sonars is in breach of the Articles 204-206 of the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention (UNCLOS) of 1982, points out in particular article 206, which requires States to "assess the potential effects of such activities on the marine environment and shall communicate the results of such assessments";

D) Acknowledging that such deployment is also violating Article 194 of UNCLOS according paragraph 1 of  which "States shall take all measures that are necessary to prevent, reduce and control pollution of the marine environment from any source"; considering that proper and effective compliance with these obligations requires a precautionary approach; noting that the Precautionary Pinciple has been laid down explicitly, i.a., in the Biodiversity Convention; and in the Treaty establishing the European Community;

E) Recognizing and regretting that the USA has refused to ratify UNCLOS and the Biodiversity Convention, nevertheless being convinced that these Convention are obligatory on countries that have not ratified it because they have become a binding norm of customary law;

1) Calls for an immediate moratorium on any deployment of LFAS and other high intensity active sonars by navies of the NATO and other navies until such time as independent peer reviewed comprehensive global environmental assessments have been undertaken which incorporate proper studies on the effects - both short and long-term - of these sonars on fish, fish eggs, larvae, zooplankton, cetaceans, marine mammals, crustaceans and the prey of these species;

2) Calls upon the US and NATO countries deploying high intensity active sonars to prepare and make public the studies on the environmental impact of LFAS which are required under Article 206 of UNCLOS;

3) Calls upon the Navies involved in the above mentioned exercises to disclose what information they have about the types and intensity of the active sonar in use in the areas of exercise; as well about the deployment of any US vessels in these exercises;

4) Calls upon the European Commission to conduct a study of the potential impact on the marine environment that would result from the deployment of LFAS, in the framework of the Thematic Strategy for the Protection and Conservation of the Marine Environment, in the context of the Sixth Environmental Action Programme;

5) Demands that USA ratify the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea as well as the Biodiversity Convention and to adhere to these and other instruments of international law; recommends this issue to be added to the agenda of the Transatlantic Partnership Dialogue between the EU and the USA

6) Strongly welcomes the ruling of October 31, 2002, of US Federal Judge Elisabeth Laporte, who  * acting upon a request by environmental groups (i.a. the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Humane Society, the League for Coastal Protection, the Cetacean Society International, and the Ocean Futures Society and is President Jean-Michel Cousteau) to block the US Navy from deploying a new high-intensity sonar system that scientists believe to pose a threat to entire populations of whales, dolphins, seals and other marine mammals - found that the US National Marine Fisheries Service issued to the Navy a permit that "likely violates a number of federal laws, including the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA)", and accordingly granted a preliminary injunction.

7) Decides to forward this resolution to all the Green parties in the world, the European Parliament, the EU Council and the Governments of the EU and the EU applicant members; towards the European Commission, towards the Secretary-General of  NATO, the USA Government and the US Senate and  the House of Representatives, as well as to all the signatories of the Law of the Sea Convention.

Contact: eguelcher@europarl.eu.int

Informant: Gotemf

Soldier's health damage due to radar radiation recognized as injury at work.
From "Fyens Stiftstidende" 11 November 2002

A Danish soldier, who got cancer of the throat after many years of working with radarsystems, now got recognition of his disease as work injury. This is the first time that radar radiation is recognized as a cause of illness and work injury, and the Danish decision can be of importance for thousands of Danish and European soldiers.

-This is a decision that creates international attention. These are exactly the same radarsystems used in Holland, Belgium and Germany where a number of lawsuits sueing for compensation are presently running at Civil courts. Therefore the Danish decision can be an important breakthrough, says work environmental expert Torben Hoegh from Euromil, which is an European union of professional defence organisations.

The Danish soldier got seriously ill after working for 15 years in the Airforce, where he was responsible for repair and maintenance of radar installations. The job implied that he was daily exposed to many hours of X-ray radiation. In 2000 the soldier was diagnosed with cancer of the thyroid and lymph glands in the throat. This has now been recognized as a work injury by the state adminstrative body for work injury. The Work injury administration's opinion is that "there is every probability that his illness is caused by X-ray radiation at work".

Defense command has not yet decided if the decision shall be appealed. A year ago  Defense command  refused to start an investigation of the effects of radar radiation on technicians and soldiers who had serviced the HAWK radars in Denmark for years. This happened after Defense command had read a report about an official German investigation committee, that concluded that between 400-1000 German soldiers possibly got cancer from radarsystems, that were not properly shielded. At that time Defense command decided that no risk was involved in working with Danish radarsystems.

After the latest decision of the Work injury adminstration it is urgent that Defense command starts a thorough investigation of the connection between radar radiation and cancer, e.g. by cross checking information on soldiers' health and the Health council's  cancer registry, thinks Torben Hoegh.

- An investigation can not be postponed.  This concerns the health and safety of thousands of soldiers, says Torben Hoegh.

Based on the present information, Defense command's chief of staff, major general Ebbe Rosgaard, does not think  that there is a need for an extensive registry investigation, that could show a higher frequency of cancer in soldiers, serving radar systems.

 - One has to be carefull not to overreact because of a few single cases, says Ebbe Rosgaard.

He mentioned that Defense command already has set up a committee to screen all radar installations in Defense for radiation hazards and to check if the present and previous security procedures are sufficient.

- If this investigation shows that there is a suspicion that people might got ill because of radar radiation, then we can discuss if there is use for a registry  investigation. However, I wish to stress that at present we have not found anything that points to insufficiency in security procedures, says Ebbe Rosgaard. He expects that the check of the radarsystems  will be finished next March.

Euromil, which represents 500 000 European soldiers, will host an international plenary debate at Christiansborg (Danish House of Parliament) on sunday about soldiers' work environment. Here the risk of radar radiation will also be discussed.

Chieflieutenant GŁnther Huseman, who represents the staff in the German Airforce, is pleased about the decision of the Danish Workinjury administration. He thinks that it can be used to put more pressure on the authorities in the other European countries to recognize radar radiation as a work injury.

- In Germany we have at present many cases awaiting judgement at civil courts, raised by retired soldiers, suffering from cancer, which in our opinion is tightly connected to their work at radar stations. Even though a German committee report already in 2001 concluded that there is a connection, the German authorities have denied to recognize the soldiers' illness as a result of damage at work, and has send them to the Civil courts. I hope that the Danish decision will make them change their minds, says GŁnther Huseman to Ritzau press agency.

The German lawsuits amounts to a total claim for compensation from the German state of 100 million Euro.

The organization of military personel, that represents  the Danish soldier, has not yet decided if the decision of the Work injury administration shall be followed by a claim for compensation from the Danish state.

- A compensation will be a consolation, but in our opnion this is not the most important thing. Most essential is, that we find out how great the problem is, and how we can reduce  the risk for health damages because of radiation, so that our soldiers can feel safe in the future, says Torben Hoegh.

Informant: Sianette Kwee

F.Y.I, New Scientist / TETRA
The World's No.1 Science & Technology News Service

Emergency radios can jam patients' lifelines

10:10 22 November 02
Exclusive from New Scientist Print Edition

A two-way radio system being widely adopted by the world's emergency services is even more likely to interfere with the safe operation of some life-critical medical devices than the cellphones which are banned from hospitals, says a British government safety regulator.

The warning comes from the Medical Devices Agency, which has found that Tetra radios can upset heart pacemakers, confuse defibrillators, and stop ventilators working. Tetra - the Terrestrial Trunked Radio System - is being adopted by emergency services in 50 countries in Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The MDA's findings came as part of a wider study of the effects of radio interference on hospital equipment. The agency tested a wide range of radio devices by moving them steadily closer to critical items of medical equipment and observing the results. Wireless communications devices such as the microwave-based Wi-Fi system used to connect laptops to the Internet caused few problems because they transmit at very low power. But some radio handsets interfered with medical equipment from as far as three metres away. In nearly half these cases the effect was serious and could have "direct impact on patient care", the MDA concludes. Some medical devices which were immune to cellphone interference were affected adversely by Tetra radio handsets.

Sounding the alarm

The MDA published its results on its website in 2001, and also faxed it as a safety newsflash to hospitals. Now the agency is worried that its findings have been ignored. Most concern over Tetra has focused on the alleged health effects of its signals, but Andy Smith, head of critical care at the MDA believes interference poses the greater risk.

Tetra is a European standard that operates at a frequency of 400 megahertz, which is below the microwave range used by cellphones. Both systems send the voice data in pulses, but while cellphones send 217 pulses per second, Tetra has a pulse rate of only 17.6 per second. This makes it less susceptible to radio interference - vital for police, fire and paramedic services. Experts believe Tetra's low pulse rate is more  likely to cause interference than a cellphone because it is hard to filter out. In the MDA's tests, Tetra set off alarms on infusion pumps, while cardiac monitors went haywire and ventilators had to be shut down and rebooted to clear errors induced in software. An alarm on one device was unaffected by a cellphone but sounded when a Tetra handset came close. Even a printer was affected, and started up of its own accord.

Transmission inhibition

Niall O'Malley, a spokesman for Motorola, one of the many companies making Tetra equipment, points out that the company offers an option called Transmit Inhibit.

This can be used to restrict Tetra use inside a hospital building, say, to receiving calls, not sending them. But this requires the user to remember to switch off transmission before they enter a critical area like an intensive care unit.

The MDA is planning to test the effect of Tetra antennas mounted on hospital roofs. "These will have to focus the radio beam tightly so that it does not hit the ground for 60 metres," says Smith. But it may still have line of sight through a window and into a ward. "Hospitals are getting worried about this," says Smith.

Britain's National Health Service still plans to adopt Tetra. But the NHS had made no comment on the MDA alert by the time New Scientist went to press. Smith says hospitals that have moved to Tetra should carefully manage its use in critical areas.

Barry Fox

Informant: Marre Dafforn

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