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Alki Beach residents protest plan for cell antennas near school

SEATTLE - Emotions are boiling over in West Seattle over a proposal to put 12 new cell phone antennas in the middle of the Alki Beach neighborhood.

Some residents say the antennas could harm the health of children at a nearby school and park. They're planning a large bonfire and rally Thursday night on Alki Beach to protest the project.

Opponents say there are already enough cell phone antennas in the area, and adding more of them puts people's health at risk.

Verizon Wireless wants to install the antennas atop an apartment building that's just blocks away from Alki Elementary School and popular Schmitz Park.

But the group against the plan points to studies from overseas that say cell phone tower radiation is harmful to human health.

"Cell towers are so new, that it's basically the new smoking," says Eric Siko, who has filed an appeal with the city against the antennas. "Back in the '50s, they didn't think smoking was going to be a problem. (In) 1964 they found out. Now we're talking about the fact that they are telling us cell towers are not dangerous. I think they are."

The U.S. government and the cell phone industry say there is no danger from wireless antennas.

And Verizon says cell phone antennas had existed at the site before where the company plants to install them.

"Verizon's proposal is not a new idea - the rooftop has hosted antennas from another wireless carrier for the past 12 years," the company said in a prepared statement. "We're proposing small antennas, less than five feet. They will comply fully with all FCC guidelines."

Meanwhile, the neighborhood group has filed an appeal with the city to stop the new antennas. That decision will come in July.

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