- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
 March 14, 2003 

Failure to Communicate: Residents says Armentel in violation for antennas

Doctor of radiophysics says antennas can be dangerous.Some Yerevan residents on Baghramyan Avenue are concerned that satellite dishes being placed on their building by Armentel may be harmful to their health.

The telephone company recently put up three high-powered units as a means of improving its cellular phone service.

But some 200 occupants of the 16-story Building No. 25 are more concerned with potential health hazards than with advanced communication.

The building supervisor Gayane Mkrtchyan says apartment No. 63 at the top of the building was bought in November and renovation soon began.

Residents of the privatized building got their first look at the renovated apartment one week ago. They say they found a windowless and door-less unit with several layers of stone. They say they fear that the strange bunker-like unit is so heavy it could damage nearby units.

But it is mostly the fear of the unseen that has residents worried.

One resident, an older woman named Mary says she worries about radioactive particles emanating from the antennas.

"It is invisible, colorless death that has no smell and which shows itself years later," she says.

Deputy director of the Yerevan Radiophysics Research Institute, PhD, and Academician of the International Academy of the Ecology and Vital Functions Security Suren Martirosyan shares inhabitants' concerns.

Antennas connected to special generators and capable of high-capacity shortwave signals should not be placed in a residential building Martirosyan says.

Residents are also charging that the Armentel equipment has validation dates that expired more than a year ago, and which violate Armenian law, as their certification is not written in Armenian.

"There are countries with which we have contracts on mutual acceptance of the certificates, but anyway, those certificates have to be approved in Armenia," says Head of the Inspection and Certification Department of the Ministry of Communications and Transportation Haikandukht Baroyan. "In case the validity date of the certificate has expired, one shouldn't even think of the legitimacy."

For its part, Armentel spokesperson Hasmik Chutilyan dismisses the residents' fears saying "people panic without any ground".

Residents of Building No. 25 have appealed to the Ministry of Healthcare for a ruling on whether their health might be jeopardized by the dishes. A committee is to meet and make a decision tomorrow (March 15).

But even if specialists of the Ministry decide that antennas are not dangerous residents of the building say they will not allow Armentel to keep antennas there.

"Even in case those antennas are not dangerous and are made of chocolate, we have a right to restrict their placement," Mary says.


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