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From Nukewatch

* Several recent studies have brought new attention to the dangers of EMFs and strengthen U.S. Representative David Obey’s (D-WI) observation that, “...the Navy has never been able to prove that the system is safe for the people or the wildlife living near it.” (The Ashland Daily Press, Sept. 27, 1994)

* Dr. Louis Slesin, publisher of Microwave News, has said, "More than 40 epidemiological studies now point to a link between electromagnetic fields and cancer - 14 to brain tumors alone." (Utilities Forum, Oct. 1991)

* After looking at 500 public health studies, the National Academy of Sciences concluded in 1996 that 'the link between high-current power lines and childhood leukemia is "statistically significant" and "robust."' (Louis Slesin, in New York Times Letters, Nov. 13, 1996)

"The committee concluded that...data on magnetic fields were insufficient to make a judgment." (Richard Luben and Daniel Wartenberg, members of 16-member panel of the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, in New York Times, Nov. 19, 1996, Letters.)

The NAS committee concluded that finding an answer to how wires outside a window are related to childhood leukemia "should be an urgent priority." (Newsweek, Nov. 11, 1996)

"The NRC panel found an absence of proof, not proof of absence (of risk.)" As H. Keith Florig of Carnegie Mellon Univ. points out, "There is no conclusive evidence that there isn't a problem." (Newsweek, Nov. 11, 1996)

The NRC acknowledged that "Everyday levels of EMFs [electromagnetic fields], suppress cells' production of melatonin, according to researchers led by Robert Liburdy of Lawrence Berkeley Lab. In lab tests, this hormone slows the growth of breast cells on their way to becoming cancerous." (Newsweek, Nov. 11, 1996)

* Electromagnetic fields are “possible human carcinogens,” according to a working group of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). On June 24, 1998 a NIEHS panel voted 19 to 9 in favor of categorizing extremely low frequency (ELF) EMFs, such as those from power lines and electrical appliances, as possible carcinogens. The decision was based mostly on epidemiological studies of children exposed at home and workers exposed on the job. (Microwave News, July/August 1998; Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 25, 1998, “Panel finds possible cancer link to electric fields.”)

* The Wayne Hughes Institute in St. Paul, MN published two studies in the Journal of Biological Chemistry in early 1998 that "found a direct connection between electromagnetic fields [EMFs] and the development of cancer-producing changes in laboratory cells." "This is the first time there is conclusive genetic, biological, biochemical and molecular biological evidence that electromagnetic fields can activate events inside the cell that have been associated with cancer," said Dr. Fatih Uckun senior author of the studies. In both studies, low-energy electromagnetic fields were used. Each test triggered important changes linked to cancer-forming cells. The first study consisted of long-term exposure with evidence showing changes equated with exposure to radiation and chemotherapy. In the second study, a five-to-15 minute exposure to the field triggered a five-to-10-fold increase in gene activity associated with leukemia. (St. Paul Pioneer Press, "Studies on EMF raise new concerns: Local researchers link cell change to exposure," February 11, 1998, p.1C)

* In July 1997, the prestigious National Research Council (NRC) [of the Nat. Academy of Sciences] released a highly critical analysis of Navy-sponsored studies of the effects of Project ELF’s EMF radiation on plants and animals. The NAS concluded that the Navy was too dismissive in its finding of “no serious” effects.

Badly designed, implemented and interpreted studies may have prevented the Navy from observing possible effects, the NRC found. "The NRC recommended that date be re-evaluated by an organization independent of the Navy or the contractor that did the initial studies." (IIT Research Institute in Clam Lake and in Chicago). (Ashland Daily Press, Aug. 6, 1997)

Among other disturbing effects of exposure to Project ELF fields identified by the NRC the review sites: increased levels of chlorophyll in aquatic plants; increased death rates of wintering bees; and earlier-than-normal opening of the eyes of baby mice¾all the result of accelerated cell growth.

* The U.S. Navy submarine communications [ELF] antenna in northern Michigan "has spurred the growth of some nearby trees exposed to its 76 Hz EMFs. Young red pines grew taller and mature aspens and red maples developed thicker trunks than similar trees growing at a control site 30 miles away."

Increased growth "as high as 74% in some red maples" is reported by scientists at Mich. Technological Univ.'s (MTU) School of Forestry and Wood Products in Houghton [Michigan] who monitored vegetation in the region from 1985 to 1994.

MTU's Dr. David Reed told Microwave News "Our reaction was 'Holy Smokes! What does this mean?'" and MTU's Dr. Glenn Mroz commented that the increased tree growth surprised people "to the point that they didn't believe us." (Microwave News, Jan./Feb. 1995; International Journal of Biometeorology, 37, pp. 229-234, 1993)

* Sweden announced that from now on it "will act on the assumption that there is a connection between exposure to power frequency magnetic fields and cancer, in particular childhood cancer."

"This was the first time a national government recognized the EMF-cancer link."

The federal National Board for Industrial and Technical Development, NUTEK, was responding to two major epidemiological studies, released the same day, that support the proposition that exposures to weak electromagnetic fields (EMFs) at home and on the job contribute to the development of cancer. The studies showed that children exposed to relatively weak EMFs from neighborhood power lines developed leukemia at almost four times the expected rate. (Microwave News, Sept./Oct. 1992).

* The industry newsletter Microwave News reports that as early as 1990, the EPA recommended that EMFs be classified as “probable human carcinogens,” causing an international sensation. The report found that the evidence of an EMF-cancer link had become stronger over the years and the 1995 draft made an even stronger argument. In 1991, a review by EPA’s Science Advisory Board downplayed the cancer risk and had the report revised. Work on completing the 1995 draft has been halted. Industry has pressured EPA not to release the report which, as a draft, is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

"Power-frequency electromagnetic fields (EMFs) should be considered a risk factor for childhood cancer, staff and at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concluded in 1994. This conclusion appears in a report which was suppressed by EPA's senior managers and never released to the public." (Microwave News, Vol. 18 No. 1, January/February 1998, p.1)

* In 1984, The State of Wisconsin sued the Navy in Federal Court over questions of ELF's effects. U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled for Wisconsin and halted ELF’s construction. A Federal Appeals court lifted that injunction, but did not end the debate over the possibility that EMFs cause cancer in humans and abnormalities in trees and aquatic life.

The Jan. 31, 1984 injunction by U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb (State of Wisc. v. Weinberger, 578 F.Supp 1327, 1984) ruled that:

1) "Scientific information generated on biological effects of [ELF] electromagnetic radiation since the Navy's [1977] environmental impact statement was sufficiently significant to require careful review by Navy before proceeding with proposed [ELF] submarine communications facilities, and environmental impact statement was no longer adequate as source of information necessary to rational decision on relative risks and benefits of project." (emphasis added)

2) The "Navy abused its discretion in proceeding...in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act."

3) The August 1977 National Academy of Sciences study, requested by the Navy, recommended further research in many areas, including effects of [ELF] electromagnetic radiation on 1) behavior and adaptation of fish sensitive to weak electric fields; 2) orientation and comb-building behavior of bees; 3) magnetotactic bacteria...; 4) bird navigation and migration pattern; and 5) mammalian neurophysiological behavioral, and neurochemical effects.

"The committee concluded that...continued research on biological effects of ELF electromagnetic radiation was essential."

"In the 1977 EIS, the Navy reiterated its pledge that "if any deleterious biologic effects were identified, the operation of the system would be discontinued."" (State of Wisc. v. Weinberger, 578 F.Supp 1327, -1984)

* In a letter of Nov. 11, 1977, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggested that further environmental impact documentation would be necessary before any decision were made to operate a full-scale ELF system at one or both of the test facilities. (State of Wisc. v. Weinberger, 578 F.Supp 1327, 1340 -1984)

* Nov. 1977, Pensacola Naval Aerospace Medical Research Lab scientists "noted that exposed males [primates] gained weight at a faster rate than the control group males so that by the end of one year the exposed males were approximately 11% heavier than the control group males. In March 1978, a Nat. Academy of Sciences panel evaluated the data at Navy request. The paned noted substantial evidence of a real effect of exposure on male animals. (State of Wisc. v. Weinberger, 578 F.Supp 1327, 1341 -1984)

* In Navy-sponsored research experiments conducted under lab conditions, Dr. Goodman of the Univ. of Wisc., Parkside found that exposure to weal electromagnetic fields affected the growth of slime mold. (State of Wisc. v. Weinberger, 578 F.Supp 1327, 1343 -1984)


* In 1981, Adm. Thomas B. Hayward, then Chief of Naval Operations, told Congress: "No threat has emerged that causes us concern about our SSBN [nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine] force. And, therefore, it is not essential to press on with ELF at the present time." (House Armed Services Committee, 1982, Part 3, p. 644.) In that same year, Navy Secretary John F. Lehman recommended to Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger that the ELF communication system be shelved. (House Armed Services Committee-1982, Part 4, p. 869)

* In 1982, Vice Adm. N.R. Thunman, then Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Submarine Warfare, told Congress: "Through 1981 we have conducted more than 2,000 strategic deterrent patrols, and I am pleased to report that our fleet [Trident] ballistic missile submarine today is just as secure and invulnerable as it was when [the] George Washington went to sea in 1960." (House Armed Services Committee-1983, Part 4, p. 232.)

* Rear Admiral Raymond G. Jones, then Deputy Assistant Chief of Naval Operations for Undersea Warfare, testified on June 7, 1991 that, "The Soviets do not currently threaten U.S. SSBNs in the open ocean, nor do we see indications of a future threat." (DoD Authorization for Appropriations for Fiscal Years 1992 and 1993, transcript of hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, 1991; Senate Hearing 102-255, Part 5, p. 111)

* More recently, in January 1993, then Defense Secretary Dick Cheney reported: "The ability of the SSBN force to remain virtually undetected at sea makes it the most survivable and enduring element of the U.S. nuclear force structure." (Dick Cheney, Annual Report to the President and to Congress, January 1993)

*The simple fact born out by this testimony is that Trident subs just are not vulnerable. In addition, they do not need ELF to stay in continuous contact. Admiral Harry D. Train II, while Commander in Chief of the Atlantic fleet, said that present systems "require that our strategic submarines [Tridents] have a receiving antenna continuously deployed at or near the surface." (Senate Armed Services Committee-1981, Feb. 19, 1980, Part 1, p. 404.) So the claim that ELF is needed to stay in constant contact with submarines is also a fabricated justification.

**From Robert Aldridge, "ELF Communication: Extreme Low Frequency Signals to Submarines," 11 Feb. 1997.

See also from Nukewatch:

* Official Government Criticism of the Navy's Project ELF.

* Newspaper Editors Speak Out: “Close Project ELF."

* U.S. Senator Russ Feingold's Statement on Project ELF, March 22, 2001.

* 2001 ELF Termination Act, House Resolution 1160 (Sen. Russ Feingold); and Senate Bill 112 Rep. Tammy Baldwin).

last updated Sep 17 2001