In its filing, Verizon Wireless claims that the Pittsfield Board’s allegation that the tower could cause health problems is scientifically unfounded.
Verizon Wireless has filed a lawsuit against Pittsfield, asking a court to block the Massachusetts city from demanding that Verizon explain the presence of a cell phone tower at 877 South Street.
According to The Berkshire Eagle, the lawsuit was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.
In their complaint, Verizon has asked the bench to answer a “federal question” on the power of local city boards and municipalities to regulate telecommunications companies in relation over environmental and health concerns.
Verizon is seeking clarification on whether the Pittsfield order has violated the Telecommunications Act of 1996, a law that defines how telecommunications companies can be regulate and compete with one another.
Specifically, Verizon suggested that the Pittsfield Board violated Section 32 of the T.C.A., which prohibits state and local governments from attempting to regulate telecommunications companies because of perceived health concerns about radiofrequency emissions.
The clause states “no state or local government or instrumentality thereof may regulate that placement, construction, and modification of personal wireless service facilities on the basis of the purported environmental effects of radio frequency emissions.”
“The defendant Pittsfield Board of Health (“Board”) violated this section of the TCA by issuing an order (the “Emergency Order”) to plaintiff Pittsfield Cellular Telephone Company d/b/a Verizon Wireless (“Verizon”) and its landlord requiring that Verizon cease and desist operating its lawfully constructed and lawfully operating PWSF at 877 South Street in Pittsfield, Massachusetts (the “Facility”),” Verizon’s lawsuit states.
“The Board improperly based its order on the premise that the RF emissions from the Facility have health effects and that state and local law give the Board authority to address those effects by requiring Verizon to shut down its tower, even though the Board recognized that the Facility complies with the TCA and the FCC regulations,” it adds. “In fact, however, the TCA preempts the Board’s authority to regulate the Facility on the basis of RF emissions. Therefore, the Emergency Order is unlawful, improper, and the relief this complaint requests in the form of a declaratory judgment is appropriate.”
The Berkshire Eagle notes that Pittsfield has asserted that a Verizon tower at 877 South Street—on the southern periphery of the city—is a “public nuisance,” and a “cause of sickness” that “directly causes harm to certain individuals, and renders dwellings unfit for human habitation.”
However, Verizon attorneys have insisted that there “is no credible evidence provided to the board the view that RF emission in the range permitted by the FCC have negative health effects in humans generally or that they have the issues alleged by certain residents of the city.”
The board, meanwhile, says that it has analyzed “over 11,000 pages of evidence of studies, reports, and scientific and medical experts’ opinion about the dangers of human health and the environment cause by exposure to wireless radiation.”