Italian Officials OK Solution for Vatican Radio

Reduction in Transmissions Planned

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 4, 2001 ( The Italian Council of Ministers approved an agreement whereby Vatican Radio will reduce shortwave transmissions to comply with Italy´s tough environmental standards.

The approval apparently ends the dispute over electromagnetic emissions from Vatican Radio antennae at Santa Maria di Galeria, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Rome. The emissions were blamed for health problems in the area, though Vatican Radio and numerous scientists say the charge is unfounded.

Italian Minister of the Environment Willer Bordon has announced his resignation over the approval of the deal, which had been worked out by a bilateral commission of Vatican Radio and Italian government officials.

Bordon, a former leader of Communist Youth, had hoped to stop Vatican Radio´s transmissions on Easter Monday. The Italian government, headed by Socialist Giuliano Amato, opted to accept the proposal of Vatican Radio´s directors, and to reduce the emissions gradually, in keeping with Italian law.

Before May 20 Vatican Radio will reorganize its shortwave transmissions at Santa Maria di Galeria. A decision is due May 18 on reductions in medium-wave transmissions.

To date, Vatican Radio´s emissions have observed the standards defined by the World Health Organization and the European Union. Italy´s more-recent standards are much stricter.

Vatican Radio reduced its transmissions significantly in recent weeks, «with the sacrifice of its listeners,» the directors of Vatican Radio explained today in a statement. The adjustments made by Vatican Radio on Feb. 1 and April 16 meant that it was virtually meeting the limits imposed by the law.

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