Who Will Fill the “Significant Gap?”

On March 23, 2022 in a hearing before the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) Board, Verizon argued vigorously that a proposed macro tower in the specific site in issue on Ski Run Blvd. (see our Dec 2021 blog post) was critical to closing a “significant gap” in cellular service coverage. Opponents of the macro tower with its 50 kW of antennas allege that the macro tower, combined with other proximate small cell facilities, will release continuous high levels of radiofrequency electromagnetic field (RF/EMF) radiation, exposing residents living nearby — one of whom is undergoing a special FDA-approved experimental drug trial that may save his life from a serious cancer which will be aggravated by constant radiation from the towers — to 24/7/365 harmful levels of radiation. Other vulnerable persons will be children and their parents who will be engaged in a playground nearby the giant tower. 

The proposed macro tower will be “camouflaged” as a monopine which is made up of more than 2.5 tons of hazardous and toxic plastic materials, all of which will eventually fall onto the ground and through runoff, make their way as microplastics into Lake Tahoe. These discharges will be in direct violation of the Zero Discharge standard established under the federal and California Water Quality laws, adopted under the California and Nevada Interstate Compact and TRPA’s own Regional Plan. [1]

The TRPA Board almost unanimously approved the project, with one eloquent Board member opposed to it. The Board confirmed in open session that it had not taken the time to inform itself, nor require Verizon to provide detailed toxicological analysis, of the specific contents of monopine plastic waste.

The largely unreported TRPA Board decision will set a fatal precedent for Lake Tahoe. Every other wireless monopine polluter is now encouraged to proceed to dump uncontrolled monopine waste anywhere in the Tahoe Basin, in flagrant violation of the Zero Discharge Standard. The case is currently being litigated in the Federal Court for the Eastern District of California.

The only justification for this environmental outrage is the assertion by Verizon of the concept of “significant gap.” Let us remember this is largely a marketing contrivance, not a legal regulation. Theoretically, a significant gap in cellular service coverage will always exist, so long as the marketing department of wireless companies promote more and more of their services. There is no objective standard for “significance,” nor independent means to validate the so-called customer demand. Moreover, it is only a matter of time before Tahoe residents wake up to the fact that they have already paid $ millions in taxes and surcharges – but have not received – for far faster, safer, more efficient, and climate change friendly alternative, i.e. optical fiber to the premises. During the hearing, a 50-year resident living near to the proposed macro tower attested that he found present cellular coverage without the macro tower perfectly acceptable. Others also testified that they have experienced no significant gap in their coverage.

But, in fact, we must recognize there is indeed a very “significant gap,” not only in Tahoe but across the U.S. today. It is the significant gap:

  • in accurate monitoring and measurement of RF/EMF exposures of local communities everywhere.
  • in governmental and public awareness and care for tens of thousands who are today being exposed to and suffering illnesses linked with RF/EMF radiation.
  • In compensation to the victims of RF/EMF emission radiation.
  • in government and judicial enforcement of existing laws that are flagrantly being violated by wireless providers in every state and local community in the U.S.
  • In the loss to the nation of priceless treasures such as Lake Tahoe.

 These are the true gaps that must immediately be addressed and resolved.

 We appreciate your support for the landmark Tahoe litigation through our Pay Forward/Donate page.

[1] For references on the contamination of blood by PVC and other polymers, see: Greenpeace: PVC-The Poison Plastic (2003) and

Discovery and quantification of plastic particle pollution in human blood (March 2022).

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