Claim that smart meter put woman at risk of being 'electromagnetic conductor' dismissed
Alyse Kotyk, CTV News Vancouver
Published Friday, September 20, 2019 1:54PM PDT
Last Updated Wednesday, October 9, 2019 6:52AM PDT
A B.C. woman's human rights complaint was dismissed after she claimed BC Hydro's smart meters could interfere with her sleep apnea machine and turn her into an "electromagnetic conductor."
According to a BC Human Rights Tribunal decision from Sept. 18, Evelyn Pinkerton felt she was being discriminated against because BC Hydro required her to accept a smart meter. She said the device would interfere with her continuous positive airway pressure machine, more commonly known as a CPAP machine, which she uses for her sleep apnea.
First, the tribunal's decision said Pinkerton believed the high voltages of electricity from the smart meter could damage the CPAP machine. She also mentioned concerns about having "a considerable amount of metal" in her body, making her more at risk to being an "electromagnetic conductor."
The decision says that Pinkerton doesn't explore that concept "in any great detail," however.
The tribunal says she also brought up concerns about hacking, alleging that can attackers could access the smart meters, "causing fires and explosions or even a widespread blackout."
In her report to the tribunal, Pinkerton quoted former CIA director James Woolsey who, in an interview, said smart grids may be a convenient way to control home devices from a cellphone, but "that may well mean that a hacker in Shanghai with his cellphone could do the same thing or worse."
But the tribunal says those concerns aren't under its jurisdiction.
"The question for the tribunal is not whether smart meters are well-designed, safe, secure or generally a good idea," the tribunal's decision says.
"Rather, the only question which this tribunal has the power to answer is whether the smart meters discriminate against an individual."
In this instance, the tribunal member found that was not happening in Pinkerton's case.
"I appreciate that Ms. Pinkerton, and many others, have real concerns about the decision to transition from analog to smart meters," the decision says.
"However, the Human Rights Tribunal is simply not the forum to adjudicate the merits of that decision … I dismiss Ms. Pinkerton's complaint on the basis that it has no reasonable prospect of success."
BC Hydro's smart meter installations began in the summer of 2011, but many residents in the province fought against them. Back in 2013, then-energy minister Bill Bennett said around 60,000 people had refused the meters out of concerns of high-frequency radio waves.
At the time, the provincial health minister and Health Canada said that smart meters pose no known health risks.