Wireless transmitter in Montpelier silenced after delay
MONTPELIER — City officials say the controversial pump station transmitter on Hebert Road was removed Wednesday, a month after it was expected to be replaced by a hard-wired system.
Public Works Director Todd Law said Wednesday the removal was delayed because the hard-wired system was having problems communicating with the rest of the wastewater system.
“There were complications that nobody anticipated,” Law said. “We could see that (the information) was being received at the wastewater plant, and it couldn’t get into the data system.”
The monitor would alert the city if the pump station failed, causing raw sewage to overflow.
The City Council voted in October to remove the antenna, and officials had previously said it would be replaced by Nov. 2.
The issues with the transmitter started in May. Resident Lara Merchant told the council that the antenna next to her property was causing her and her 7-year-old daughter symptoms such as fatigue, trouble breathing, irritability and insomnia.
The council voted in May to create a task force to look into the matter. Councilor Tom Golonka, who was a member of the task force, reported back in October saying the task force had reached an impasse on how to proceed.
After much discussion at an October meeting, the council voted to shut the transmitter down. Some councilors, such as Golonka and Thierry Guerlain, were worried that taking that step without any proof of the antenna causing health problems could set a precedent for other residents to come forward with issues about radio transmissions. Guerlain proposed that if they were going to shut down the radio antenna then the council should look into removing all transmitters from school buses, police cruisers and anything else that emits radio waves.
Guerlain was also concerned that Montpelier would be listed as a municipality that shut down a radio transmitter for unproven health reasons and that the city could be used as an example by others who want to push an anti-radio agenda.
Councilors Angela Timpone and Alan Weiss, whose district includes Hebert Road, argued that the council is there to accommodate citizens and if the antenna was a concern for some residents then the council should do something about it.
The antenna was one of eight wireless pump station monitors around the city. There has been no discussion about changing the other seven stations to a hard-wired system.
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