ROME, March 11 Italy will delay the installation
of a new high-frequency U.S. military satellite station in
Sicily pending the results of a study into the health and
environmental impact, Prime Minister Mario Monti's office said
The planned ground station is part of the so-called Mobile
User Objective System (MUOS), a new ultra high-frequency
military communications network that includes bases in Australia
and the United States.
Monti and other government ministers met regional officials
from Sicily on Monday to discuss local protests against the
installation at Niscemi, near the Sigonella naval air base in
the south of the island.
In a statement, the government said installation of
satellite antennae at the site would be blocked until
completion of an independent technical study into the possible
impact from electromagnetic waves.
There has been widespread concern in Sicily over possible
health effects from the system, generating protests that the
government said risked compromising operations at Sigonella, a
base used during the air war against Libya in 2011.
The centre-left regional government in Sicily, which
operates in loose agreement with the anti-establishment 5-Star
Movement of former comic Beppe Grillo, has demanded stronger
guarantees that local health concerns would be addressed.
As well as the independent technical study, the government
said it would set up systems to monitor the long-term health and
environmental impact from the site.
(Reporting by James Mackenzie; editing by Barry Moody/Mark