A Report on Non-Ionizing Radiation

U.S. Navy: Project ELF To Close

September 21, 2004

The U.S. Navy has announced that, on September 30, it will close down its Project ELF transmitter, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The transmitter, which consists of a 56-mile antenna on Michigan’s upper penninsula and a 28-mile antenna in nothern Wisconsin, operates at 72-80 Hz with a peak power in excess of 2 million watts, is used to communicate with submerged submarines. Over the years, it has been the scene of countless protests and the subject of a number of lawsuits.

Twenty years ago, after a federal judge forced the navy to prepare an environmental impact statement for the project, Secretary of the Navy John Lehman Jr, who would later become a member of the National 9/11 Commission, declared that the “ELF system is essential to the national defense” (see MWN, Mr84). The transmitter became fully operational in October 1989.

When it was first proposed in 1968 —under the rubric Project Sanguine— the navy planned to bury the antenna; it would have covered an area of 21,000 square miles and used 500 million watts of power. A year later, in the first of many desigh changes, it was scaled back to 21,500 square miles and 30 million watts of which, according to one estimate, only 30 watts would have actually been radiated.