Since the installation of smart meters at her subsidized-housing complex, a 57-year-old former realtor says her health has been so compromised that she’s using a wheelchair. As well, her cat is dying.
“I know for certain now [the additional radio-frequency emissions are responsible], because my cat has gone way downhill in the last six months,” Kathryn Hutchinson told the Straight by phone from her ground-level apartment at Centennial Manor in Langley. “He’s actually gone blind now. It’s really having a big effect on him. I don’t know if I’m going to make it or not. This might kill me. But boy, it [the story] has to get out.”
Hutchinson confirmed that she was hypersensitive to radio frequencies prior to the meters’ installation but said she has never felt as bad as she currently does.
“I am the first apartment next to the meter [bank],” Hutchinson, a widow and mother of two grown daughters, added. “There might be a three-foot hallway in between or whatever, but I am as close as you can get. When I’m sitting at my computer, that would be the closest.”
Jeanette Dagenais, administrator with the Langley Lions Senior Citizens Housing Society, confirmed to the Straight by phone that B.C. Hydro’s private contractor, Corix, installed a meter bank containing 12 smart meters about four metres from the front door of Hutchinson’s suite last November. The rest are on the second floor of the 36-suite building the society administers, Dagenais said.
Hutchinson said she went on permanent disability in 1997, due to multiple symptoms including sciatica, nerve damage, muscle weakness, and what she believes is a sensitivity to electromagnetic frequencies. Her MLA, B.C. Liberal Mary Polak, told the Straight by phone that she is familiar with Hutchinson’s situation.
“What concerns me is when we can’t find a resolution for someone,” Polak said. “I understand that she finds this very upsetting and also that, for her, she believes that she’s experiencing physical challenges as a result. I know we haven’t been able to find a resolution that satisfies her.”
Both Dagenais and her colleague Linda Watson said they would look into transferring Hutchinson to another suite. “We quite often do that with our residents if they do have issues or problems like that,” Watson told the Straight. “This is kind of a new one for us, though.”
According to Citizens for Safe Technology founder Una St. Clair, if Hutchinson stays put, the parts of the suite closest to the meters should be coated with special paint that blocks radiation.
St. Clair, who describes herself as electrohypersensitive, said she recognized “the common dizziness, the nausea, the migraines every day, the shaking, the upset digestive system” that Hutchinson described to her.
When told about Hutchinson’s case, B.C. Hydro’s smart-meter spokesperson, Cindy Verschoor, insisted: “The meters have been confirmed safe by the provincial, the federal, and the international health authorities, and they’ve been independently tested and verified.
“In fact, we’ve just done another study on a bank of 40 meters in a high-density residential complex in Victoria,” she reported.
Verschoor said the upcoming report should be available on B.C. Hydro's website this week.