Official Threatens to Pull Plug on Vatican Radio

Environmental Aide Gives Institution 15 Days to End Transmissions

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VATICAN CITY, MAR. 16, 2001 ( Italy´s environment minister has threatened to cut off Vatican Radio´s electricity, claiming that electromagnetic waves from its antennas are spreading cancer.

At a press conference in Rome, Environment Minister Willer Bordon gave a 15-day ultimatum to the pontifical broadcasting station to discontinue its activities in Santa Maria di Galeria, located about 12 miles from Rome. From that station the Holy Father´s voice is transmitted worldwide.

“It is an extreme decision I hope I will not have to carry out,” said Bordon, a member of the Green Party, which is in the midst of a campaign for the May general elections.

A few days ago, Bordon was one of the civil parties in the prosecution for the alleged electromagnetic contamination caused by Vatican Radio. The court case was scheduled to begin March 13, but the judge postponed it until September or October because an attorney had not fulfilled the requisites necessary in order to call Vatican citizens to appear in Italian courts.

Vatican Radio directors published a statement expressing their surprise over the “declarations and behavior of Minister Bordon, since there is a bilateral commission between Italy and the Vatican, which for the past two months has been studying jointly the problems relating, precisely, to the Santa Maria di Galeria center.”

“On this commission, there is a representative of the Ministry of the Environment. Vatican Radio has assured its complete willingness to collaborate,” Vatican Radio added. The statement concludes: “An initiative like Minister Bordon´s does not help to create that climate of serenity that should contribute to the search for more opportune solutions.”

On March 13, a group of scientists sent a letter to Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi to denounce a campaign of disinformation about the Vatican Radio antennas. Physicists and scientists said the voice of science was being “trampled” by political interests. They say there is no scientific evidence to back up the accusation that the antennas are causing cancer.

The antennas were built in 1951, when the area was virtually uninhabited. The area now has 30,000 residents. Father Pascuale Borgomeo, Vatican Radio´s director general, told ZENIT that the area is the object of financial speculation, now that it is a railroad line has opened and allows for a 20-minute commute to Rome.

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