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11/22/2017 10:05:29 PM
Posted: 9/27/2004 8:55:19 PM EST
September 27, 2004

Navy prepares for Thursday ELF shutdown

Associated Press

WAUSAU, Wis. — With terrorism the new global threat, a network of antennas strung atop 40-foot poles in northern Wisconsin that lets the Navy signal submarines prowling the oceans has become another Cold War relic.

The Navy will shut off its extremely low frequency (ELF) radio transmitters Thursday — 15 years after they were turned on and decades after they were first proposed as a way for missile-packed submarines to stay hidden, giving the United States an edge over the Soviet Union.



For years, peace activists and environmentalists targeted the transmitters in the Chequamegon National Forest near Clam Lake and in Upper Michigan’s Escanaba State Forest near Republic.

The network’s closure will bring an end to the demonstrations that led to hundreds of arrests in acts of civil disobedience, some for trespassing onto the site and sawing down poles.

It also means the loss of dozens of jobs.

“It is definitely going to hurt the economy,” said Roger Anderson, co-owner of Deb’s Y-Go-By, a bar, grill and bait shop in Clam Lake, a quiet tourist wayside about 40 miles from Lake Superior.

“Eventually, we knew this was going to be obsolete. It is just coming a little sooner than we thought,” Anderson said. “Maybe they need the money for the Iraq war or the war on terrorism.”

Project ELF is outdated and can be replaced by other communications technology, the Navy said in announcing Sept. 17 it will dismantle the facilities within the next three years.

U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., who has wanted to shut down Project ELF since 1993, said the Navy for years had a “bunker mentality” in trying to pretend the facility had a purpose.

Clearly, a system designed to deal with Soviet submarines isn’t a military priority, Feingold said.

“I do think the war on terror had something to do with this,” Feingold said. “I think people are finally realizing we need to equip our military and everything we do toward the real threats.”

Steven Davis, spokesman for the Navy’s Space and Navy Warfare Systems Command in San Diego, said closing ELF comes after a “re-evaluation” of the Navy’s priorities. “Even as recently as three years ago, the world has changed considerably,” he said.

The Navy spent $13 million a year, including about $400,000 for electricity, to run both ELF transmitters, Davis said. Each site has one Navy worker and 27 civilian contractors.

The government has not yet determined the cost of dismantling the sites, Davis said.

The Navy began using the $400 million system in 1989. Its radio waves, sent from antennas strung on hundreds of poles across miles of forest, permitted submarines to roam undetected by radar while receiving basic messages.

The project was nearly killed in the late 1970s but was revived by President Reagan in his plan to modernize strategic defenses.

Project ELF was scaled down considerably from the original 1960s plan, which called for a grid of 6,200 miles of buried cable and 100 transmitters that could withstand a nuclear war.

Anti-nuclear weapons activists considered Project ELF a “trigger” for nuclear war. They reacted with joy to the closure announcement, recalling lawsuits, marches and a campaign of civil disobedience targeted at the military system.

“This is another victory for nonviolence,” said John LaForge of the Luck-based Nukewatch. “We never gave up.”
Anderson, the Clam Lake businessman, disagrees.

“I don’t want these damn, bleeding-heart, liberal tree-huggers thinking that their protesting is what shut this down,” he said.
Since 1991, police have made 636 arrests for trespassing at the Clam Lake site in acts of civil disobedience designed to call attention to the system, according to Nukewatch.

LaForge questioned the Navy’s reasons for shutting down the transmitters.

“I suspect the Navy is afraid of liability over ELF’s electromagnetic radiation and its likelihood of causing health problems around the transmitter,” said LaForge, who was jailed for 7½ months in 1995 for refusing to pay fines related to protesting at the Clam Lake site.

Davis said the Navy spent about $25 million on research and studies into public and environmental safety and found no problems.
During two decades of protests over the construction of the system, critics warned the low-frequency radio waves would fry fish in nearby streams and produce baby squirrels with two heads.

Jerry and Tish Holter, both 74, have lived about a mile from the antenna and watched the project unfold since 1969.
“None of us here have had any health problems. My wife was a human guinea pig for the project for years,” Holter said. “They said it was going to cause cancer. There isn’t one case up here, in all the years, of any illnesses being connected to this project.”

People who protested Project ELF were just “screwballs running around in the woods,” Holter said.
Project ELF served its purpose, he said.

“It was a great deterrent to nuclear war against the United States. When we were in the Cold War, the Russians knew that if they hit us we could hit back twice as bad,” he said. “So it kept them in tow. Without the system, we were left out in the cold. We needed ELF.”

More ELF info:
www.fas.org/man/dod-101/navy/docs/scmp/part07.htm



Some details about Project ELF
September 26, 2004, 2:04 PM

Some details about the U.S. Navy's Project ELF in northern Wisconsin and Upper Michigan:

WHAT: The Navy operates two extremely low frequency radio transmitters to communicate with submarines prowling hundreds of feet under water. When the transmitters became operational in 1989, they were the only communications system that could penetrate seawater to great depths and be virtually jam proof from both natural and man-made interference.

WHERE: The transmitters are in Clam Lake, Wis., where testing of the communications system began more than 30 years ago, and Republic, Mich., locations picked mostly because of the geology -- "low conductivity bedrock" beneath dozens of miles of antennas strung on poles.

MISSION: The system was considered essential to the national defense, allowing Trident and Poseidon submarines to remain undetected at operational speeds while remaining in continuous communication with the president and secretary of defense. Each submarine had a receiver to decode the ELF transmission.

HISTORY: Research and testing of the system was done between 1958 and 1963 in New Jersey, North Carolina and Virginia. A test site was constructed in the Chequamegon National Forest near Clam Lake in 1968. The test facility in Clam Lake attained operating capability in 1985. When the Michigan site became fully operational in 1989, the two facilities began synchronized transmissions 24 hours a day.

OTHER NAMES: Project ELF was scaled down from early plans. Project Sanguine envisioned a hardened aboveground system designed to withstand a nuclear attack. Super Hard ELF was a deep, underground system. Seafarer called for a system of buried antennas.

CONTROVERSY: A federal judge in Wisconsin halted construction of the system in 1984, saying more environmental and health studies were needed. A federal appeals court in Chicago overturned that decision. The Navy said it spent more than $25 million to study the impact of ELF's electromagnetic fields, which were described as similar in nature and strength to those produced by power distribution lines.

POLITICS: Within years after ELF was built, Wisconsin politicians, including U.S. Sens. Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold and the congressman who represented the Clam Lake area, Rep. Dave Obey, called for its closure.

Source: U.S. Navy, published accounts.
Link Posted: 9/28/2004 5:42:56 AM EST
U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., who has wanted to shut down Project ELF since 1993, said the Navy for years had a “bunker mentality” in trying to pretend the facility had a purpose.

Clearly, a system designed to deal with Soviet submarines isn’t a military priority, Feingold said.

“I do think the war on terror had something to do with this,” Feingold said. “I think people are finally realizing we need to equip our military and everything we do toward the real threats.”



I am all for smaller governemnt but you would think this guy would be a little upset about losing jobs in his home state.


LaForge questioned the Navy’s reasons for shutting down the transmitters.

“I suspect the Navy is afraid of liability over ELF’s electromagnetic radiation and its likelihood of causing health problems around the transmitter,” said LaForge, who was jailed for 7½ months in 1995 for refusing to pay fines related to protesting at the Clam Lake site.


Speculation is so much better than science. Shut up you fucking hippie.
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