Kissamos in north-western, Crete was a mobile-phones-free town for a couple of weeks. All mobile phones were out of service, as the antennas of all three carriers stopped operating for 15 days, following the rule of the local Court of First Instance. Eventually, after the demand of the locals and the municipality, the carriers turned on their antennas again a few days ago, on Good Thursday.
Associations of parents and guardians, the Municipality of Kissamos and Ecologists in Kissamos had taken legal actions against the providers Vodafone, Wind and Cosmote protesting against the establishment of antennas in close proximity to schools.
The Court commented for the applicants, obliging the carriers to shut down the operation of their antennas. While mobile phone stopped working in the area, residents supported that carriers did not take any measures, although they were informed about the decision of the court since February.
Local associations and ecologist also indicated that carriers were trying to take ‘revenge’ this way, cutting mobile communications off. According to the carriers though, moving and planting the antennas somewhere else could not happen overnight; all companies had to apply for pertinent licence and do research and studies, prior to any action.
The entire procedure could have lasted last a couple of years. This caused some major controversy among the locals and especially among professionals in the area. They obviously reconsidered and asked for the re-operation of antennas, as staying without mobile phone connection for two years would be rather inconvenient and even damaging for local businesses.
One of the locals who officiated at this movement, Dr. Michalis Botonakis, stresses that more than 3000 signed the original petition; having antennas thirty meters away from kindergartens was simply not acceptable. The court ruled for the locals because it was proved during the trial that no urban planning licences were issued and no environmental studies were ever launched.
Cell phone antennas emit microwave radiation on a constant basis and can also act as a chronic stressor at low exposure levels. This is the reason why locals reacted to the decision of carriers to plant their antennas within the town limits. According to European laws and regulations, residential areas and schools should have safe exposure levels; cell towers are not supposed to be placed near schools
Ecologists in Chania have denounced the behaviour of the carriers’ officials and suggest that public weal, health and well being are above any profit or commercial interest. They also reminded that individuals and cell phone users can maybe take measures so as to prevent themselves from being overexposed to radiation when using their phones, but they cannot do anything when antennas and towers are so close to their houses. ‘ No one should be exposed to radiation 24/7. We believe that these practices should stop. Acting on good will and with cooperative spirit can resolve all problems in the region.’ Thus Kissamos remained mobile phones free for 15 days, until locals decided to ask companies to turn on their antennas again. It was the first area in Greece that asked – even temporarily- for the shutdown of mobile phone antennas since 1993, when carriers started working in the country.