5g

An example of a small-cell tower now in use in Vail. The technology’s coming introduction in Aspen has some citizens concerned and about a half dozen people spoke up about 5G at Tuesday’s city council meeting.

A handful of citizens urged Aspen City Council to do all it can to prevent a barrage of 5G towers coming into town.

The concerns were voiced during public comment, led by Tom Lankering, a chiropractor from Basalt, and focused on the health effects of pervasive 5G signals.

Lankering held up a blank piece of paper, telling the council it was a list on the safety studies on 5G.

“That is the biggest issue we are talking about now, is that there are no safety studies,” Lankering said.

As Aspen has faced the incoming advent of 5G wireless devices and networks, city staff have been preparing to keep as much of a handle on new cell towers as they can. However, in public memos they have cited legislation passed in 1997 that bans local governments from regulating small cell wireless facilities based on health reasons.

“I’m sure this has been relayed to you by all of us that we feel our hands are tied by the FCC and other regulations,” Councilman Ward Hauenstein said in response to the public comment.

“That is only part of the misinformation that has been put out,” Lankering said.

He said other communities are finding ways to ban or delay the implementation of 5G. He also told the council that there is a movement in the statehouse now to repeal HB 17-1193, which he said was passed due to pressure from wireless companies at the expense of public health. 

“Part of this is about being able to reclaim our right to protect our own health,” Lankering said.

Lankering asked that a safety study be done before 5G is allowed in town. He offered his own free time, as well as that of a group of citizens who have been gathering to fight the implementation of 5G.

“Electromagnetic radiation is devastating, it’s destructive and destroys brains,” Lankering said, invoking fears of dementia, alzheimers and cancers, as well as social health effects and depression.

5G waves are smaller and thus do not travel as far. This means more towers are needed in any given area than with current cell towers. It is estimated that Aspen would need more than 100 new towers in order to create a reliable 5G network in town. The county as a whole is years away from implementing 5G networks, even though some cell carriers advertise their networks as 5G currently.

Business owner Andrew Sandler told council that he can feel the effects of 4G towers when he travels to areas in Denver that have heavy 4G network. He also voiced concern about the health effects, even from the wi-fi signals created through the network of cell phones present in the council chambers.

“Picture walking through a haze of smoke and pretend that is the wifi frequency that is coming at you,” Sandler said. “Everyone in the room is sitting in a haze of junk and it’s killing us.”

Public comment on the health risks of 5G continued for about 20 minutes, with clapping from the room as each citizen voiced their concerns.

City Attorney Jim True said the city’s legal team is working on crafting Aspen’s own regulations to stay compliant with state and federal codes while also caring for the health and aesthetic preferences of local citizens. He encouraged those who spoke during public comment to send along examples of ways other communities are addressing the health concerns.

“This is just the biggest experiment on humankind that will even happen,” Lankering told the council, “but people are rising up.”

Alycin Bektesh is a reporter for the Aspen Daily News. She can be reached at Alycin@aspendailynews.com or on Twitter @alycinwonder.