Woefully Unprepared for EMP Attack

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“Without power to refineries, pipelines and pumping stations, we may run out of fuel in a matter of days, shutting down our backup systems,” Hunt said. “As we played out this scenario, most participants indicated we might reach a tipping point for food, water, medical and emergency services, beyond which recovery becomes problematic and would likely be measured in years, not months.”

Hunt concluded: “the nation has not even begun to prepare for how to respond to such an event… It’s not even on the conscious radar screen of the nation.”

Dr. George H. Baker, a physicist who worked on the staff of the Congressionally-mandated EMP Commission, noted that while such a scenario was “bleak,” holding such exercises was important because it highlighted the need for public education.

“We need to do a much better job at educating our citizens, public officials and first responders. A lot of the people who came to these exercises had no idea of the severity, the seriousness of the effects, that we could shut down the entire national power grid for extended periods,” Dr. Baker said. “People didn’t know that.”

And yet, even as all this information is coming out, there are many in industry and even in the government who are playing for time and money to conduct additional exercises and simultations to determine how much damage would be done to power transformers by an EMP event.

The Idaho National Laboratory (INL) conducted the first real-world scale simulation of an EMP attack on the power grid on an isolated 13-mile segment of grid they own in rural Idaho. Because they were told not to destroy equipment, they only simulated the effects at a 10% load on the transformers.

“That’s kind of like testing the engine of a sports car while it’s at idle,” one expert told me.

Even at that unrealistic low level, the INL engineers found that the transformers experienced 80-90% energy loss when blasted with a massive EMP wave. In other words, instead of transforming the energy, they absorbed it, creating heat.

“If the transformer is fully loaded, the temperature is going to be significantly higher than where we operated it,” said chief test scientist, Scott McBride. “So if you are already operating hot, you only need a smaller incremental addition of heat to cause the break down of the insulation system.”

I asked him if he had any doubt that in the event of a bigger event – a major solar flare, or a nuclear EMP that lasted longer than the 8 second “blast” his simulators had used to test the power grid, that the transformers would blow up, McBride thought long and hard.

“If we could have a duration significantly longer than our 8 second pulse, yeah, we could cause that transformer to fail.”

It was one of those “duh” moments. And yet, Dr. Alenka Brown, the National Defense University official who chaired the table top exercises, said the impact of a geomagnetic event on the power grid “is still debatable” and required further study.

As for an EMP caused by a non-attributable nuclear weapon exploded in the upper atmosphere by Iran or North Korea – a scenario that clearly worried most of the participants in the table-top exercises – Dr. Alenka Brown shut down all discussion.  “We don’t want people getting out duct tape and plastic,” she said.

I’m going with Maryland’s Michael Fisher. We know plenty already about the catastrophic effects of a geomagnetic or EMP event. The time to prepare is now.

“We are now 100% vulnerable to a major EMP attack or to a major geomagnetic event,” said Rep. Trent Franks (R, AZ), sponsor of H.R. 668, also known as the SHIELD Act.

Rep. Franks blasted the Obama administration for spending more effort to rebuke Israel for building houses in its capital than on preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Even worse, he said, was the failure to protect the national power grid, a vulnerability that only invited attack.

“Indeed, by decreasing our vulnerability, we may reduce the likelihood that terrorists or rogue states will attempt such an attack in the first place,” Franks said.

There comes a moment in the life of nearly every problem when it’s big enough to be seen by reasonable people and still small enough to be solved, Franks said. “I think you and I live in that moment, when there still may be time for the free world to address and mitigate the vulnerability that naturally occurring or weaponized EMP represents to the mechanisms of our civilization.”

For less than $1 billion, we can harden the national power grid and prevent this type of disaster from shutting down our society. What are Congress and the Obama administration waiting for?

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  • Anonymous Coward

    Is Dr. Alenka Brown an idiot? She reminds me of many idiots I've seen in sci-fi movies who are high up in the government and whose ignorance lets things quickly spiral out of control. I guess she could just be a radical leftist secretly hoping that the EMP attack does happen to stop imperialist USA from polluting gaia.

    • byte me

      twerp.

  • David

    Perhaps. For the globalists to have their way, and a Global Governance established, America has to be taken down several notches. They are playing a longer game than most people think about. Repent, America, while there is time.

    • Asher

      The EMP going off over the country could be a real reality, taking us back to the 20th century inconveniences and hardships… We haven't seen the worst yet of this admnistration. This country is NOT prepared for an event like this. I hope people will stock up on water, perishables, medical supplies, and yes a Bible for sure!

  • StephenD

    We have nothing to fear. On all fronts, this Administration is taking the necessary action. Why, it is well known that the President has dispatched the State Department with apologies to all those that our "Imperialistic" nature has infuriated. He has speeches ready for the teleprompter. I can see it now, the Justice Department with plans drawn up for Martial Law in order to keep us "unruly" folks from trying to get food. Maybe even plans to first confiscate as many privately owned weapons as possible. It would be comforting to know they may have camps set up to "keep us safe" while this crisis goes on. Of course, with a poor economy, they'll have work for us in these camps and "work will make us free." Yep, it's all under control. We have a great benefactor in place whose only concern is what is in our best interest.

    • Chezwick_mac

      Our resident Sultan of Sarcasm strikes again!

      As for the above mentioned propensity of our Prez to apologize around the world for our perceived sins, have you all seen the latest?……
      http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article/

      • StephenD

        Your linked article is exactly what I'm talking about. Good job my brother!

  • wiley cayote

    That comment from Franks is probably the most intelligent that I have ever heard him make. Care to take that to the White House and see that something is done about it?

  • dan

    Unless we see some sort of significant global (and miraculous) change, it would seem an EMP attack against the U.S. is inevitable. While there is an optimal altitude and location over the center of the U.S. to achieve maximum effect, a limited and cheaper attack more along the scope of 911 would probably be more achievable by a growing list of nuclear miscreants. As on 911, such a limited attack would be aimed at the triad of the economy, political governance, and our military: New York and Washington D.C. where two of the triad were hit on 911, the third thwarted by the heroic on Flight 93.

    On the web there are several hands on videos about building personal Farrady boxes or cages to protect personal electronic devices. Also info on EMP proofing vehicles. The problem is, while you might be able to protect your emergency radios, a small TV, and phones, who are you going to be able to communicate with? And what about personal generators that may have vulnerable electronic (as opposed to mechanical) controls? As far as 'the grid', who, where, and how long is it going to take to build/repair/rebuild huge components that are damaged? General Electric in plants in China? With our high tech and electricity dependent society, imagine oneself being propelled back to the 1860s in, literally, a flash — for months! Catastrophic is such an insufficient word.

  • Dispozadaburka

    Hurricane Katrina… who could forget.
    Citizens being warned 5 days ahead of time to evacuate just wasn't good enough.
    The Mayor of New Orleans,
    didn't even call for the buses waiting outside of the city ,
    to evacuate the residents.
    The news couldn't make enough noise about it.

    But the way Obama and his team have handled all the disasters!!!
    Oh brother,
    the media can't say enough good things about how he and his team have handled things.
    No one even listens to major news stations anymore.
    People realize that the script they are reading is just Orwellian propaganda.
    Doublespeak.

  • jmc610

    I went to a press conference about this a few weeks ago.
    There site is http://www.empactamerica.org.
    I know they don't want to panic the public but they should have more about this in the media. People should know what's going on so they can prepare.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    For less than $1 billion, we can harden the national power grid and prevent this type of disaster from shutting down our society. What are Congress and the Obama administration waiting for?

    For less than a billion dollars, it's a no brainer. Why wasn't it done as part of stimulus spending? Indeed, it's a shovel ready job waiting to happen.

  • http://www.contextflexed.com Flipside

    For less than a billion dollars I could sprout wings and fly circles around the earth. A billion dollars is a lot of money. I could hit Ahmedinejad in the head with a sock full of magnets for about 3 bucks.

  • tagalog

    The science is settled, there seems to be a consensus on the impact that EMP damage would cause, so why isn't the Left pushing for steps to be taken to harden our infrastructure against this kind of attack? The Right should be on this like flies on honey. Surely Iran and other nations are considering how to carry such an attack out.

    I trust this scenario, among many others, is being considered at the War College and the Command and General Staff School.

    There's a book, One Second After, that's actually being made into a movie, by Bill Fortschen, that gives an idea of what an EMP attack would do to the United States.

    • displaced2

      I really liked the book Preppers Road March by Ron Foster, it tells the story of surviving after a solar storm has taken out the electrical grid and has some great survival tips in it also.

  • WilliamJamesWard

    Classic ending to stupid is stupid, America's last message "The teleprompter is down".
    William

    • byte me

      Well, at least now we have a President who can read and actually does!

      • WilliamJamesWard

        Yes he can…..and I hope he will be reading his eviction notice…………W

  • maturin20

    I'll file this next to "zombie uprising" on my list of things to worry about.

  • Robert

    One must consider that a successful EMP attack on the domestic US would leave a fairly certain signature of origin. Hence, would the perpetrator really want to trade placing the US into an 1860's tech level and the associated problems of such, for about a year, vs. their country being vaporized with up to 95% population loss?

  • Dennis

    It is really too bad that many people believe so deeply in what Hollywood Stars say about anything and what Al Gore promotes, but refuses to debate with Lord Monckton, and when something technical / scientific and historically documented, like the SOLAR FLARE that burned telegraph wires back in the 1800s – yes, an EMP event – is discussed, well, these people always forget what should have been learned in SCOUTING…..BE PREPARED!

  • JMV

    It's too bad Dr. Brown had to remind you pusillanimous twits that the purpose of the meeting was about a SOLAR event having nothing to do with Iran or nukes. It's nitwits like you (Timmerman and whoever the pea brained "Anonymous Coward – yeah, you got THAT one right) who try to push your own agenda into the wrong venue and then cry when you are called to task for it. To another idiot an idiot seems like a genius. My assessment is that neither of you are in the genius category.

  • GEORGE WASH

    urgent.. disregard this at you and your family's Peril! URGENT THIS IS MARTIAL LAW DURING PEACETIME.. obama is going to take down America if it's the last thing he does. And fast!
    New executive order signed this Friday gives the gov't full power to take anything and everything we have in our food storage including potable water(Sec 801e), gives the department heads the authority to procure and make loans without congressional approval(Sec 302), permits them to seize you and force you to work for the gov't without compensation (Sec. 502) and puts all gov't employees above the rule of law(Sec 804c). Says this can be done during peacetime(Sec 102). He's basically declared martial law without making an announcement

    BARACK OBAMA
    THE WHITE HOUSE,
    March 16, 2012.

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/​the-press-office/201

  • http://empprotection.org/ Emp Protection

    It really is in the hands of the government.. and be sure that they have secured military assets from EMP either solar or man made. The problem is that they do NOT prioritize the civilian infrastucture which means that millions would die from famine, lack of medical supplies and from riots, anarchy etc. However the country will remain as the military power is intact and so it will be rebuild. Yet the human cost is too high if you ask me.. Or any physicist.