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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.

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Comments

Elder Usr

Personally, anyone in the Technical World knew this prior? I'm surprised no one started picking it up more until recently. Seems that something has to hit a news station before it gets noticed. Also, EMPs? Try more along into detail of Nuclear Bombs possibly getting in the wrong hands by Blackhat hackers. Thats more of a possibility and a threat.

Elder Out..

Posted July 28, 2009 04:35 PM

D in Winnipeg

Winnipeg

- EMP's are old news
- most military, and national defence hardware is already protected
- civilian use, and other government equipment is not due to additional costs.
- if I were a terrorist, with a nuclear warhead, people will die, not just be inconvenianced

Posted July 29, 2009 09:21 AM

tyrell thompson

toronto

The usual snide tone of the CBC once again showes their ignorance of the issues they blather about - if only the "reporter" had thought to ask how the device must be deployed they might have reconsidered their weak attempt at humour. EMP is old news, made fresh by 9/11 etc etc. Still, its an effective weapon but can't be done on the cheap.

Posted July 29, 2009 10:25 AM

JV

Alberta

If nukes are flying, EMP's will be the least of our concerns...

Posted July 29, 2009 11:18 AM

Michael

D from Winnepeg,

You may be correct that some military and national defense hardware is already protected about EMP, but there is more to worry about. Although no one will perrish in the blast of the nuclear device that generates the EMP, the number of deaths by starvation will surpass the surface detonation deaths by orders of magnitude. Because our food industry is heavily industrialized and relys onelectricity, an EMP event will cripple our food producing and distribution systems. Therefore, an unimaginable amount of people are vulnerable to a EMP attack.

-Michael

Posted July 29, 2009 04:54 PM

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