North American Conference on the Threat Posed by Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) to U.S. and Canada to be Held in Niagara Falls Sept. 8-10. EMPACT America today announced plans for an international conference “Protecting America Against Electromagnetic Pulse,” to be held at the Niagara Falls Conference Center, Sept. 8-10.
The conference, which will feature opening remarks from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich via video and in-person speakers including experts on EMP representing Congress, the military, academia and the private sector. The conference will focus on the nation’s vulnerability to an electromagnetic pulse attack, as well as response, preparedness and recovery strategies.
“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 and an EMP attack,” said Henry Schwartz, founder of the not-for-profit EMPACT America.
“Congressional commissions and committees have tried to call attention to the immediate EMP threat from rogue states or terrorist groups using a [primitive] missile to detonate a [crude] nuclear warhead miles above the United States or Canada, knocking out all digital and electronic devices, our electrical grid, communications, and other infrastructures for months, or even years,” added Schwartz, whose companies Steuben Foods in Elma and Elmhurst Dairy in New York City are among the region’s largest suppliers of milk and dairy products.
Erie County Executive Chris Collins joined with Schwartz in calling for local and national EMP preparedness efforts.
“EMP is an issue that was not previously on our readiness list, but now has our attention,” Collins said. “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.”
EMP is a burst of electromagnetic energy which occurs naturally (solar flares) and from manmade sources (nuclear detonations). The non-radioactive pulses of magnetic energy adversely affect a wide range of electronic devices, ranging from cell phones, personal computers and vehicle ignitions, to power grids and satellites and air traffic control systems.
The absence of vital power and communications equipment poses major difficulties for disaster recovery officials, health care providers, utilities, and the business community in serving the public in the aftermath of such an incident.
Reports from the Congressional EMP Commission and the National Academy of Sciences characterize electromagnetic pulse as a potentially catastrophic threat.
In a July 21 hearing before a House Homeland Security subcommittee, Commission Chairman Dr. William R. Graham testified that EMP “. . .is one of a small number of threats that can hold our society at risk of catastrophic consequences.”
“It has the capability to produce significant damage to critical infrastructures and thus the very fabric of U.S. society,” Graham told the panel.
A likely scenario for an EMP attack involves a nuclear missile launch by a rogue state or terrorist group. In recent months, efforts by North Korea to develop nuclear technology and launch missiles have raised fears of a near-term EMP attack.
In June, the Obama administration took steps to beef-up anti-ballistic missile defenses to protect Hawaii from any North Korean launch.
Schwartz is also urging federal lawmakers to reactivate the EMP commission in the upcoming legislative session. The commission, which was established in 2001, saw its term expire in Dec. 2008.
In addition to Gingrich, Schwartz has assembled a global stable of experts to discuss the growing EMP threat and ways to minimize the impact. The speakers will also include current and former military, national security and disaster preparedness officials to lead workshops on dealing with the EMP threat.
More information on EMP, EMPACT America and its upcoming conference can be found at www.empactamerica.org. Additional information on attending the conference is available by calling 716-805-3366.
EMPACT America works with a coalition of national grassroots organizations, corporations, and local and national government representatives to ensure public safety by expanding awareness and developing a management plan for the EMP threat.
Founder Henry Schwartz is the owner of Steuben Foods, a high-tech manufacturer of food and beverage products for global and regional brand name food companies. Steuben employs more than 475 workers at its Elma, N.Y. plant. Schwartz also owns Elmhurst Dairy, Metropolitan New York’s largest milk processor.