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MWC woman confronts city hall about controversial Smart Meters

Sarah Hussain / Red Dirt Report
The new water Smart Meter that was installed in Debbie Vancendrock's yard Wednesday morning.
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MIDWEST CITY – Debbie Vancendrock began protesting Midwest City’s installation of water Smart Meters Wednesday morning, but her opposition ended quickly when police threatened to arrest her if she didn’t move.

Vancendrock, who suffers from a variety of medical conditions enhanced by radiation exposure, had sat on the ground and placed her feet in the hole where the city water meter is located. She didn’t want the Smart Meter installed since it reportedly emits dangerous radio frequencies that play havoc with her health conditions.

Instead of being booked into the city jail, Vancendrock stood up and invited police into her condominium so they could see the precautions she takes to prevent radiation from entering her home. The meter was installed over her objections, but she isn’t giving up the fight. Vancendrock has a scheduled meeting with Midwest City Clerk Rhonda Atkins Thursday to discuss the issue.

Already suffering from neuropathy, brain fog and anxiety, Vancendrock told Red Dirt Report in a telephone interview her medical issues were heightened in 2011 when utility companies started installing Smart Meters, devices that allow utilities such as Oklahoma Gas & Electric to receive frequent usage information without using meter readers. The information is electronically sent to the billing department. The advanced meters, with its wireless and digital capabilities, also allow energy companies to raise thermostats a few degrees on a hot summer day, reducing demand and avoiding the need to start up expensive plants known as “peakers” to meet short-term needs. Ultimately, that could lead to lower bills.

 “I’m not saying I didn’t have any problems before 2011, but when your immune system gets to a certain point anything can set you over the edge,” Vancendrock said.

Vancendrock claims to be sensitive to magnetic fields and can often become “violently sick” when exposed to radio frequencies. The Midwest City woman said two Smart Meters were installed on the outside of her kitchen wall by power companies.

“I don’t want these,” she said. “It’s like putting your head in a microwave and turning it on.”

However, people expose themselves every day to low doses of radiation by using cell phones, garage door openers, microwaves, baby monitors and wireless Internet routers. Atkins said she had her first conversation with Vancendrock who uses a 3G cell phone.

Utilities and municipalities face opposition from people like Vancendrock who see threats to health, privacy and security of the nation’s power grid. Opponents contend the meters emit dangerous levels of radiation through the radio frequencies that allow communications between the meters, utilities and “smart” appliances, including thermostats.

Vancendrock claims the city’s Smart Meters emit quick bursts of radiation every 17 seconds. Atkins said that’s not correct.

“The information will be transmitted for 250th of a millisecond four times a day,” she said. “That’s less than putting a cell phone to your ear.”

Midwest City has been licensed by the Federal Communications Commission to use radio frequencies that fall within federal guidelines. City officials discussed the use of Smart Meters for several years, deciding two years ago to install them on a citywide basis.

Unlike many of the energy companies, Midwest City does not offer an opt-out plan for residents who are opposed to the meters.

Vancendrock had U-Verse and a wireless alarm system pulled from her house as another precaution.

“I’ve been totally surrounded by radiation,” she said. “I am overloaded. It feels like I’ve been hit with a Taser when I’m overloaded. It’s all I can do to crawl into my bed. One time, I thought I was seeing Jesus.”

She claims depleted vitamin and mineral levels and a balance problem were created by the radio frequency emissions

Vancendrock’s sensitivity to radio frequencies is so severe that a friend built a faraday cage around her bed. A faraday cage is made of a mesh that blocks external static and non-static electric fields from entering the enclosure, pushing it around and along the cage.

Vancendrock said she is treated by a physician for her medical conditions and is dependent on a visiting nurse to assist her. The nurse, Vancendrock said, witnessed an episode that left her nearly helpless.

“I’m glad someone else saw it to prove I’m not a nut case,” she said.

During a typical day, Vancendrock said she’ll leave her cage and work around the house until she experiences heart palpitations.

“Then I spend another hour or so in the cage,” she said.

Vancendrock owns her condo, but said she doesn’t have the financial resources to move.

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Tim Farley

Tim Farley is an award-winning journalist with more than 30 years of experience, including...

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