Another reason to worry about nuclear attacks

By Emily Chung, CBCNews.ca

Nuclear weapons can flatten cities and fry their inhabitants. Even if you survive, you could still fall victim to radiation sickness or cancer. But that's not all, warns EMPACT America.

The group is devoted to raising awareness about the threat of electromagnetic pulse (EMP) – another possible consequence of a nuclear attack – and it's holding a conference on the issue in Niagara Falls, NY Sept. 8-10, the group announced in a news release Tuesday.

EMP is a non-radioactive burst of energy that can be caused by either solar flares on the sun or nuclear explosions. It can disable electronic devices, such as cellphones and personal computers as well as power grids and air traffic control systems.

The group warned that EMP is a "major threat to U.S. and Canadian security."

If you weren't aware this was something you need to prepare for, you're not the only one. Neither was Chris Collins, executive of New York's Erie County, which includes Niagara Falls.

"EMP is an issue that was not previously on our readiness list, but now has our attention," Collins said in the EMPACT America news release. "Given the potentially grave consequences to both public and private assets, we will take steps at the county level to make it part of our disaster preparedness efforts."

Henry Schwartz, founder of EMPACT America, said it should be considered among other threats.

"Government and industry must devote coordinated energy and funding to protect our nation's electric-power, telecommunications, food, healthcare, financial and other infrastructures from the devastating potential of major natural disasters, conventional terrorist threats, cyber attacks," he said, "and an EMP attack."

The group suggested that such an attack could come in the form of a nuclear missile launched by a rogue state or terrorist group. It also suggested that there are ways to minimize the effects, which will be discussed at the conference.

No doubt everyone will be grateful those discussions took place if such a terrorist attack ever occurs and fails to physically destroy the local hydro lines and cell towers in the process.