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This week, Dr. Pry welcomes Lord Kelvin Medal Recipient Dr. William Radasky back to EMPact Radio for a special episode about testimony given by electric grid insiders at a recent Senate committee hearing.
Together with Dr. Pry, Dr. Radasky listens to sound bites from the hearing and discusses the merits and mis-steps of the testimony. Dr. William Radasky started his career as a research engineer at the Air Force Weapons Laboratory in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1968 working on the theory of the electromagnetic pulse (EMP). From 1972 to 1984, he worked for Mission Research Corporation and Jaycor in Santa Barbara, California performing research into the effects of EMP on electronic systems. In 1984 he founded Metatech Corporation in Goleta, California where he is currently President and Managing Engineer. During his 42-year career, he has published over 400 technical papers and reports dealing with electromagnetic interference (EMI) and protection.
You can listen to the recording of Dr. Radasky's previous appearance on EMPact Radio by clicking the following link http://www.blogtalkradio.com/empact-radio/2010/09/22/empact-radio-with-dr-peter-vincent-pry.
Welcome to this week's episodes of EMPact Radio with Dr. Peter Vincent Pry. I am your co-host Ross Howarth at EMPact America's Headquarters in New York. Dr. Pry is just outside the Beltway in Washington D.C. And our guest this week is Dr. William Radasky. We are going to be doing a kind of special format today in that there was some incorrect information that was the discussed during a recent Senate committee hearing that questioned the nuclear threat to the power grid and didn't really address the solar threats properly. So, what we are going to do is if you can just listen in to this special episode, we are going to get into some of the truth about that, reinforcing the importance of protecting the US power grid and given the importance of this reporting and getting to some of these facts, what we are going to ask is in case of the call-ins, we are going to take at the end of the show, if there is time. Dr. Radasky of course has been on our show before. We couldn't have asked him for better timing to have him on the show again. He is a Lord Kelvin Medal Recipient and started his career in research engineer at the Air Force Weapons Laboratory in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1968 working on the theory of the electromagnetic pulse (EMP). From 1972 to 1984, he worked for Mission Research Corporation and Jaycor in Santa Barbara, California performing research into the effects of EMP on electronic systems. In 1984 he founded Metatech Corporation, where he is currently the President and the Managing Engineer. He has had a very long and prestigious career, published hundreds of technical papers and reports dealing with electromagnetic interference (EMI) as well as protection. And if you want to hear some of his previous discussions on EMPact Radio, you can go back to our Episode 14. So we have got a lot to talk about today, mainly we are going to talk about the full committee hearing that just happened to receive testimony on joint staff discussion on a draft pertaining -- it was really on cyber security, but also got into both power system in the electric infrastructure for other purposes and then it occurred last Thursday, May 5, 2011. So, with that Dr. Pry and Dr. Radasky, welcome to the show. And let's get started.
Let me amplify what we are doing on this show today. In effect, I consider this to be an EMPact America hearing, like a congressional hearing. You know, to address and set straight the record on factual inaccuracies and misleading information that was given in front of the United States Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources during the hearing they had on May 5, 2011. Having been a professional staff member myself on the House Arms Services Committee, and knowing how these hearings work, I cannot help but conclude that the purpose of this hearing was deliberately an attempt to sabotage the SHIELD Act H.R. 668, which is intended to protect the electric grid, to give the Senate an excuse to not act on the SHIELD Act and to try to stop the EMP movement from going forward and the political momentum we've been building to get this country protected because the deck was so stacked in this hearing with people who are really not experts on this subject, who are not really competent to advice the Senate, and the committee staff probably knew that when they put this together. They basically outnumbered the one person who was an expert from the FERC by about three to one -- he was out numbered three to one during the testimony on this. The chief person who was leading the attempt to convince the Senate that we don't have to worry about a nuclear EMP was Dr William Tedeschi from Sandia National Labs, and he was joined with by Gerry Cauley who is the CEO of the North American Electric Reliability Council and by David Owens who is the chief of the Edison Electric Institute.
Now, just knowing that, knowing their affiliations, Tedeschi being from Sandia and these other two guys basically being from the electric industry, a cynical person could easily draw the conclusion that what happened was that the industry hired Tedeschi to attack the research done by the FERC and by the other -- well by the FERC agency study that he claims to have peer reviewed for the purpose of trying to dispute the credibility of that report so the Senate wouldn't have to take legislative action because of course as members of the electric power industry, they would like to avoid having to engage in any expense or government regulation that they can. Now, that would be a skeptical interpretation. I don't have any inside information on that, but it seems intuitively obvious that was probably the motive. I will also note that and to be clear, it seems in Tedeschi's testimony, he is the person that's mainly represented as an EMP expert in this area, that he's not speaking for Sandia National Laboratory. He did this basically -- he and his team, as he puts it, on his own with the permission of Sandia but he is not speaking for the national laboratory. The national laboratory has already spoken on this topic. Their deputy director of the Sandia National Laboratory was Joan Woodard. She was one of the EMP Commissioners. And she subscribed to the EMP Commission report, which was supported by consensus by all the commissioners and everybody in the community that participated.
And therefore, that represents the official view of the laboratory until Sandia National Laboratory says otherwise. And the EMP Commission view is the same view that is reflected in the other studies because they all independently re-examined the EMP Commission's assessment and all came to the same conclusion. Now I mention this because in William Tedeschi's testimony, he describes himself thusly: "I am a subject matter expert in nuclear weapon systems and effects including EMP threats and in assessing the risks post by such threats, part of this expertise came from Sandia having technically supported the congressionally mandated EMP Commission from 2002 to 2008 through targeted EMP testing of a whole range of electronic equipment assessments of water and financial system infrastructure susceptibility and targeted writing assignments. I was the program manager for that work." Well, here is one of the first misleading statements that has to be set straight. You know, first of all it is interesting that he identifies his expertise as having derived from his work with the EMP Commission. And yet his testimony to the Senate contradicts the findings, the basic findings, of the EMP Commission and that he denies that a nuclear EMP attack from terrorists is credible. He basically thinks that we don't understand the EMP threat to the electric grid and goes in directly the opposite direction. So what did he learn from working with the EMP Commission? Nothing apparently. And I knew Bill Tedeschi when I was on the EMP Commission staff. It's not true that he was a major player on the EMP Commission. He was a minor actor on the commission. And while, it may be true that he was the Program Manager for the work done at Sandia National Laboratory, that is not the only place that the EMP Commission did testing.
Actually, most of the testing was done elsewhere. Including places like the Dahlgren Naval facility, where we had an EMP simulator. And most of the best testing and trusted testing was done by others than Bill Tedeschi. In fact, I specifically remember some of his work being criticized, or at least questioned, in terms of how it was done. And I know that the commission, Dr Graham, bent over backwards to try to accommodate his views. The same views that Tedeschi expresses in this Senate testimony were also raised in front of the commission and he was given his day in court. His arguments were put in front of, not just the commissioners, but of all the consultants, all of the people in the intelligence community that supported the commission -- which was basically all of the resources in the United States National Security apparatus because the commission had access to them -- and he was blown away. He was not able to make his case. He had his day in court. His views were rejected but despite that, Dr. Graham -- because I was involved in drafting the commission reports. And over my objections, Dr Graham bent over backwards to try to accommodate Tedeschi's views, because he wanted the EMP Commission reports to be a consensus report and so, even though Tedeschi didn't make his case in a lot of his core judgments, Dr. Graham still softened a lot of our judgments, against my advice, just to accommodate Bill Tedeschi, in an effort to make that consensus, which we did achieve. He wasn't a big enough actor so that he could break the consensus, because his own laboratory, Sandia National Laboratory, his own Deputy Director, who is far above him in rank, they had to reach way down to scrape the bottom of barrel to find Bill Tedeschi.
He is not a high ranking officer at Sandia National Laboratory. His own laboratory concurred with the EMP Commission report. So I just wanted to start off, give that background before turning to our guest, Dr. Bill Radasky, and it is amazing to me that when the Senate had a hearing, that they would invite people like this and not someone like William Radasky or the Deputy Director of Sandia National Laboratory. You know, if they are interested in a Sandia view on the EMP threat. But particularly, William Radasky, who was a senior person, very senior -- did a lot of a substantive report for the EMP Commission. As Ross said, he hold the Lord Kelvin Medal for electromagnetic physics. Many people consider him to be the -- he and Dr. Graham are probably the two foremost minds on understanding the EMP threat in the free world. And yet he was not even invited to testify in front of the Senate. Let me start. And so, thank you, Bill for taking time to be with us here today and to join us in this hearing on the Senate Committee and Energy Natural Resources hearing and to basically do a fact finding and fact checking mission here.
I'm pleased to be here and I am looking forward to this opportunity.
Let me start of by asking you some simple questions, before we get into the technical details, about, who these people are? Dr. William Radasky, EMP expert and holder of the Lord Kelvin Medal. Bill Tedeschi, William Tedeschi, who has been described, who was described during the Senate hearing as the wise man at the table on EMP. And is described in this testimony as I read it, a self-described EMP expert. Is William Tedeschi an EMP expert?
Not according to the groups that actually were Fellow category for those working in the field. We have a group of a 116 EMP Fellows identified throughout the world, 63 in the United States who are alive today. And by the way, Dr. Graham and Dr. Soper from the Commission are EMP Fellows, I am one. And we have several other people here at Metatech in my company that are. But the way to become a Fellow is to publish and demonstrate your capability. It may well be the Dr. Tedeschi has some experience but it is not obvious to those of us who actually work in the field. And also when reading his testimony, written testimony, I was somewhat stunned to see that they conducted a peer review of the work done for FERC, which by the way my company, Metatech, did this work, without any -- I don't know how they identify a peer review when they had no EMP Fellows on that committee. As I said, there are 63 of them in United States, many are retired today unfortunately. They surely could have found someone if they wanted to do a legitimate peer review.
Right. In order to do a peer review, you have to be a peer. That just makes common sense. How about the other witnesses that supported the Tedeschi view. Gerry Cauley who is the CEO of the North American Electric Reliability Council. Is he an EMP expert?
No, not at all. I mean, he may well be familiar with some of the publications but reading and understanding a report is different from being an expert and being able to differentiate between errors or truth and falsehood. So, I would say...I mean, I don't know the gentleman but I know that he is not recognized as an EMP expert.
I haven't...I understand that he has only recently become the CEO of NERC and it was interesting that here he is testifying to the Senate, basically supporting the Bill Tedeschi view that we don't have to worry about the nuclear EMP threat. But the NERC itself just last June published a study that suggested the opposite. They did a major study with the Department of Energy that said that a nuclear EMP threat is indeed a very serious thing that they have to...and recommended that the industry be looking at ways to protect the power grid.
Yes. In fact, I participated in two workshops that were held by NERC. One was dedicated completely to High-altitude EMP, Intentional EMI and Geomagnetic Storms, and those were supported by the previous chairman of NERC. So, I'm not sure whether this is a change in policy or what, but it is a bit disconcerting that someone new would have a completely different view than the previous. And by the way, the studies that they performed were for high impact-low frequency threats. And by the way, this was not the only -- the electromagnetic threats were not the only thing under consideration. They looked at cyber issues, which is certainly very important. And even at the time, H1N1 flu, they were looking at the impact of flu on repairing the power grid, workers being ill. So, it is something that the power industry must look at -- high impact-low frequency threats.
So not only is Mr. Cauley not an EMP expert, but apparently he is not even an expert on the products of the NERC since he gave testimony to the Senate that flatly contradicted not only the FERC study but his own institute's studies.
It is curious that no one asked him the question concerning the published work of NERC as to why he disagrees with it today.
Mr. David Owens of the Edison Electric Institute, is he an EMP expert?
No. Not to my knowledge. I've never seen anything published by him on the subject. As part of representing the industry, it is certainly true that there are many in the industry that would rather not deal with these threats. On the other hand, I can say directly from my company's experience, there are several power companies, private companies, in the US who have asked us to do assessments of their power grids and they are serious in looking at the situation to determine what their situation is. So, whereas Edison Institute, which may represent all power companies, certainly does not speak for all power companies.
Indeed. These last two gentleman, I would say, what their expertise really is in is in making money for the industry and finding ways to avoid government regulation. And that's what their expertise is and that's what their jobs are, and I suspect that's why they were there as expert witnesses in front of the Senate.
Yeah. On the hand, Peter, I think in a balanced presentation it would be good to have both the industry that might be affected and those who feel that the threat is serious, and as you've noted, there was not that balance provided at this hearing.
No. You can hardly say three against one is a balanced assessment. And it certainly doesn't reflect the record of the official studies. I mean, it not really boggles the mind that the EMP Commission worked on this issue for eight years -- almost a decade -- and came to completely opposite conclusions of those that were offered up to the Senate last week. And then, the National Academy of Sciences independently revisited the question and looked at the geomagnetic storm threat and agreed with the EMP Commission. And then, the Strategic Posture Commission, the Congressional Strategic Posture Commission, looked at the nuclear EMP threat from terrorists in rogue states, China and Russia again independently. And this was headed by former Secretary of Defense Perry and former Secretary of Defense Jim Slchlesinger, again, a very prestigious congressional commission, and it concurred again with EMP Commission about the threat. Then, we have the NERC study from last year and then most recently, the FERC study. So you've got five major studies all in concurrence about the EMP threat. And here comes non-EMP expert, Bill Tedeschi, with his industry backers, and says just the opposite. Hopefully this won't be a situation of the last word driving policy because where the word is coming from -- well, these people just have zero credibility, especially compared to the vast preponderance of evidence that has been stacked up by these studies, I agree with what Cheryl LaFleur, one of the FERC Commissioners, said at an EMP International Summit that was held earlier this year -- she said, "The time for studies is over, it is now a time for action." But marching forward, going through Tedeschi...
You know, Dr. Pry, if you don't mind, I grabbed a couple of quick clips, maybe I can just play one or two and you guys can comment on them before we go through the actual testimony if you don't mind.
Okay, let me just start, I'll just play one here. [Plays audio recording of William Tedeschi's testimony at Senate hearing.]
"We commend the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the authors of the seven reports on evaluating the impact as nuclear high altitude EMP pulse threats to the US power grid for their comprehensive work which represents an excellent start on modeling a very complex problem. However, we respectfully suggest that further computational and experimental work is required before fully informed decisions can be made about where and to what extent the power grid should be hardened solely against nuclear high-altitude electromagnetic pulse threats."
It has been a decade since the EMP Commission. And so, but now were saying, okay, now there's about to be some actual legislation, we have got to put the breaks on and do some more studies.
Yeah. I think I can comment on that. There's a couple of facets of that. I mean, it is nice that he congratulates the work that was done, yet, there is always more to do. But one of the things he said, is we should hesitate because we don't know where to put our hardening in our protection. And the problem of where is that is in the hands of the attacker. And therefore, a more comprehensive view must be taken to take a look at protecting over larger areas, because we don't know where those attacks may occur. The other thing is that, while I agree there's always some value in further analysis and further data, our approach for the EMP Commission and also for FERC was to examine the critical items that exist within the grid and to comprehensively evaluate the types of stresses they would see from a high altitude EMP, but also geomagnetic storms and intentional EMI. And I am somewhat stunned by later in his testimony, written testimony, he indicates, well it might be okay to include EMP in context with GIC, geomagnetic storms, and intentional EMI, which, in fact, was what was in the reports that he reviewed. So I'm a little confused. He may not have understood what we were saying. But clearly, there is a synergy between these threats where an efficiency can be gained by protecting against all of them at the same time.
At that time...
My reaction for the quote is again, Bill Tedeschi is dead wrong. His recommendations that we do nothing until we do further analysis that we basically -- he is basically saying we do need another study. And that is not supported by any of the studies that has been done previously. And we have already put a decades' worth of work. The EMP Commissions was established in 2001. It worked on this for a decade, and then subsequent to the commission, we had these four other major studies. They have all come to same conclusion. They have all recommended that we do understand the problem well enough, well enough. We don't understand it--there's always uncertainty in every scientific and technical endeavor. There is always some degree of uncertainty--but we understand it well enough to act and know what we have to do too. And we know a lot about where we have to do it. You know we need to protect those big transformers. And again, I agree with the FERC Commissioner, Cheryl LaFleur, at the international EMP Summit said, "The time for studies is over. Now is the time to act." And importantly, throughout Tedeschi's testimony to the Senate, this repetitive theme of his -- that we've got to do more computer analysis. He is talking about a particular kind of study that he wants us to be doing -- more computational analysis and modeling done by computers.
Yeah. And I can comment on that...
What kind of company would do that?
Why this fixation on the computers?
Yeah. I can tell you.
That's what they do at Sandia National Laboratory. That's their specialty, and they do have the best computers, computational models, in the United States. And that's why the EMP Commission used them. And we did already use those computers. So, if you put together the fact that Sandia has an interest, and Bill Tedeschi would have an interest in bringing money to Sandia National Laboratories, and the fact that Sandia is in Senator Bingaman's district, I mean it's in his state. He has a long record, of course, part of his job as a senator is to bring money to Sandia National Laboratories. So that, too, is a very suspicious aspect of this hearing. It looks like an effort to drum up money for Sandia National Laboratories. But, and while I am not against that, Bill and I would both support--the EMP Commission, endorsed the idea of putting more resources into refining our computer analysis. And that's a perfectly legitimate point, but to argue that we should put the national security of United States at risk by putting on hold our efforts to get this country protected, that is grossly irresponsible.
That is grossly irresponsible. And not supported by any of the facts studies that have been done.
Yes. Can I mention...?
Yeah. Can I mention very quickly, it is not just an issue that the work was only done within the EMP Commission. Oak Ridge National Labs, back in the 80s, did a study of the civil infrastructure and impacts. It was one of the first studies, and we leveraged, when we did our work for the EMP Commission we leveraged all of that work that had been done. We carefully examined it, in fact even hired, as a consultant, the people who did the work. And the reason was that work was done and then stopped, was it was during the Cold War, when we were looking at thousands of weapons, and the idea that we had to focus first on the critical infrastructure was clearly not in the cards. The military and our ability to respond was number one. Now, it's a different situation. We are not looking at thousands of weapons, and this was identified clearly in the EMP Commission report. But, because of the change and the end of the Cold War, we know have a situation where the EMP Commission focused the research on the civil infrastructure, and we did the main part of the work for the power grid, and we found through careful testing -- not analysis of what big computers, but testing -- we have found clear problems that have to be addressed. It is certainly true, as we all have said, more testing and more analysis will be helpful. But, I see large computer models as nearly useless in this area. Even though Sandia and the other laboratories have large computers, it's--electromagnetic effects are best found through a testing process. The analysis is needed to predict and calculate the environments and the coupling, but, as Dr. Tedeschi mentions in his notes, that is something we can do quite well. I'm glad he agrees with that, because we've known that for some time. But anyway, again, I think that covers that topic.
Yes. Ross, why don't you move us on to the next quote. Or ...
Let me play this... this is another topic I think that's relevant. [Plays audio recording of William Tedeschi's testimony before the Senate committee.]
"If the decision is made to protect the power grid against the broader side of more likely electromagnetic pulse threats, including solar geomagnetic and electromagnetic interference threats, then an awareness of nuclear high altitude EMP environments and effect should also be considered. From an integrated risk perspective, the Sandia team considers nuclear high altitude electromagnetic pulse threats to be a remote likelihood."
Dr. William Radasky (28:33): Yeah. Well, just a comment there. You can comment on that last part of remote, which I, of course, disagree with. But in fact, the FERC report, which his team reviewed, in fact, makes the argument that all of these threats should be considered together. So, I'm a little puzzled that he has made this discovery or maybe he does not want to credit the FERC work for that. In addition, the SHIELD Act, as we know, includes all three threats already. So, it is kind of confusing what argument is being made. But the issue of the remoteness of the threat is again in contradiction to the EMP Commission study.
Right. I think his quote there...I mean, it is bewildering, because he makes it sound like he is making an observation there that's new or original, when in fac,t that is basically the EMP Commission's position. It's the also the position of the FERC study that he is supposedly criticizing. They all basically came to that conclusion that, if you are going to look at hardening against geomagnetic storms and non-nuclear, you should also harden against the nuclear EMP threat as well. Now, maybe the provocative thing there is supposed the word "likely", you know. But, I would rather go to his testimony. That quote isn't a good one for responding. There's specific language in his testimony that I will get to when we - that I think is better for that particular issue. Why don't you go on to the next quote, Ross.
Sure. Okay. Well, I think we already talked about as far as recommending more studies so I'm not going to play anymore of that. There is one in here where basically they talk about the knowledge of... [Plays audio recording of William Tedeschi's testimony before the Senate committee.]
"Also the true extent of the grid susceptibility and vulnerability to such effects and the resulting consequences are mostly unknown except for the apparent worst-case environments and assumptions made in the reports that the Sandia team peer review evaluated."
Yeah. I would really like to address that. That is completely incorrect. I don't know how they came to the conclusion that there are worst-case and even compounding worst-cases. In fact, we considered statistical analysis in terms of different environments, different polarizations and so forth, and we constructed actually curves, similar to the lightning environment, where you have probabilistic environments that vary because EMP does vary also. And the reason we did this is that we did not want to do worst-case analysis, like the military does for their systems. We felt that it would be too much of a burden on the industry, the power industry. And the reason one does worst-case, by the way, is you don't where the burst will occur and the location of the burst relative to your location does change. It is also true that weapon yield and design are a factor. And we did studies involving all sorts of different types of weapons from sophisticated to crude. And while it is true there is some variation in the peak field, we found, even for a crude device, you could get considerable problems in the power grid obviously less than from a large weapon, but still the situation is very severe. The main involvement of the yield is the area covered. And let me also say the idea that there's compounding worst-case assumptions is just totally false. For the blackout calculations done for geomagnetic storms and for EMP, there is an assumption of thousands of faults in the power system, but no cascading of those faults to further distances, because it takes very complicated calculations to figure out how far the faults will propagate. In 2003, two or three faults in Ohio spread across the entire Northeast US.
This does happen. We do expect it to happen but we took a conservative, i.e. not a worst-case approach in our analysis. So I am sorry, but apparently Dr. Tedeschi misunderstood what was in the reports.
Let me amplify on that. And just in case our listeners didn't get the audio, I will read from his testimony. [Reading from the written testimony submitted to the Senate committee by William Tedeschi.] "Finally, in our team's view," this is Bill Tedeschi speaking, "the report's assessment of possible effects on the US power grid as a result of nuclear EMP attacks is too negative. Based on a series of compounded, apparently, worst-case assumptions, the reports lack discussion of the effect of possible uncertainties and mitigators and the results." Now, I absolutely agree 100% with what Bill is saying that the Commission was very careful, in fact, because it wanted the report to be as credible as possible. They knew the importance of what they were doing and avoided worst-case analysis...[Crosstalk]
Yeah. Can I just have a quick... One really simple thing is, we considered that all equipment was brand new and had no latent defects or because they were in the field along time that they might be more likely to fail. We assumed some none of that, and in fact this does happen.
Let me amplify that. There's something that everybody can understand, but here something else that everybody can understand in terms of avoiding -- that we didn't do a worst-case scenario. We knew about the existence on the Russian side and China, and possibly North Korea, of a super EMP nuclear weapon, a super EMP nuclear weapon that could generate this fantastic field stretch 200 kilovolts per meter. If we were doing worst-case, we would have focused on that weapon to make our test, but we didn't. We use a wide variety of weapons. Another thing, everybody is now concerned about the effects on a nuclear reactor when you have a blackout for a protracted period. We've seen what happened in Japan when you have a blackout that in this case was induced by a tidal wave that cut off power to the nuclear reactor and has caused a partial melt down and release of radiation. There's concern in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission about this being a real problem. There was a report in the Wall Street Journal about the NRC during the tornado event that happened, there was concern about what could happen to our nuclear reactors, because there's only enough emergency generating capacity for hours, for hours. And you could have the same thing here happen to US nuclear reactors in the event of an event. And an EMP event covers the whole country. Dr. Graham was on our radio show a couple weeks ago, and on the radio show raised concerns that all 104 US nuclear reactors, many of them could be affected by an EMP, and you could have on a massive scale what happened in Japan. And that -- so, if you go and you look at the EMP Commissioner reports, there's no mention of that. If we were doing worst-case, we would had a whole chapter on that, and it would have been front and center, and we could have greatly increased the casualties and deaths from this cascading effect, by having great radiation and fall out on this nuclear reactors all over United States.
That's a real worst-case. And the Commission didn't do that. And last, deliberately, because we work in the business hyping the threat. We were taking a conservative cautious view and ignored an obvious thing that we are actually seeing unfolding in reality and the real world today. And another issue, the casualty estimates. Bill Tedeschi doesn't get into that. But I think this is a good example of -- did the Commission take a worst-case point of view? The commission concluded that within 12 months of an EMP event, given our current state of unpreparedness, that we could lose two-thirds of the American population to starvation, disease and societal collapse. The commission was criticized for being too optimistic by the former chairman of the National Intelligence Council, for being too optimistic. And a lot of people would actually agree with him, that maybe he was right. You know because he estimated that it would be more like 90% of the American people that would die. Why? Because the commission basically assumed that what was the natural carrying capability of the land. And if you go back to the pre-electronic age, before we had these modern technological critical infrastructures, so if you go back to 1900, we had a population of about 90 to 100 million people, most of them farmers. And so we could - before, if you take away our technology, the natural carrying capability of the land is demonstrated historically at about 100 million people. But we were assuming that--there's a lot of benign assumptions in there--it assumes that people know how to farm, that they have the survival skills our ancestors had around 1900, and of course none of that is true.
...Nor do they have the equipment.
Right. Nor do they have the equipment. And so arguably -- and I can go on and on, with cases where we bent over backwards to NOT do a worst-case example. In fact, one could legitimately criticize the commission for being too optimistic, and it has been criticized by very credible people.
To say this was worst-case assumptions, it is just outrageous...
Right. I did want to make a couple of comments, just a quick comment on the way we did testing on power equipment. Basically, most power system equipment, especially in substations does have some electromagnetic protection built in where tests have to be performed that they have to survive certain levels. We are quite aware that my work with the IEC over many, many years identifies many of these standards. But let me mention, in the United States it is not required to have immunity standards, immunity standards for equipment. In the power industry they choose by contract to this; which is a wise thing because otherwise they will have failures during normal operation because power - high voltage power distribution and transmission yards are very noisy electromagnetic environments. So what we did is we did testing on power system equipment, the list of which critical equipment was provided by NERC itself to the EMP Commission and we prioritized that list starting with relays. Relays are the electronic equipment that makes the decision on whether to shut down a line if there is a serious transient coming down that could damage a transformer. So, we tested. And in our testing -- it was very difficult testing because we tested for the types of wave forms EMP would produce but for every wire going into the electronic equipment -- because this equipment may can be hooked up in many different ways. And sometime there will be 10, 15, 20 different ports in the equipment. And we tested to find out upset and failure levels for these transients. This does not say that you are going to be damaged or not damaged by EMP, but rather this is a database and we tested different types of equipment and found great commonality. Most of the equipments survived its specification or fails above the specifications. This is good news.
Right. I did want to make a couple of comments, just a quick comment on the way we did testing on power equipment. Basically, most power system equipment, especially in substations does have some electromagnetic protection built in where tests have to be performed that they have to survive certain levels. We are quite aware that my work with the IEC over many, many years identifies many of these standards. But let me mention, in the United States it is not required to have community standards __38:52__ that the community standards for equipment. In the power industry they choose by contract to this; which is a wise thing because otherwise they will have failures during normal operation because power - high voltage power distribution and then transmission yards are very noisy electromagnetic environments. So what we did is we did testing on power system equipment, the list of which critical equipment was provided by NERC itself to the EMP Commission and we prioritized that list starting with relays. Relays are the electronic equipment that makes the decision on whether to shut down a line if there is a serious transient coming down that could damage a transformer. So, we test it. And in our testing -- it was very difficult testing because we tested for the types of wave forms EMP would produce but for every wire going into the electronic equipment -- because this equipment may can be hooked up in many different ways. And sometime there will be 10, 15, 20 different ports in the equipment. And we test it to find out upset and failure levels for these transients. This does not say that you are going to be damage or not damage by EMP but rather this is a database and we tested different types of equipment and found great commonality. Most of the equipments survived its specification or fails or both the specifications. This is good news.
However, when we put the modeling of a high altitude burst exposing 10,000 substations at one time and looking at the statistical coupling to the cables and so forth, we found that several numbers on the order of 5% to 10% of the substations could see transients that were serious enough to cause a problem. Now, this doesn't mean that the substation is not going to work but multiple faults within one power cycle are very hazardous. They violate the NERC N-1 criteria. So basically, our testing was focused on where the problems began statistical, not worst case, analysis was done to determine the probabilities of seeing this, and this was all folded in and presented to the Commission and in the FERC report. So, I'm not sure where the worst case comes from but the testing was done to show where equipment can be damaged and analysis, which was validated, proved that there where many situations where problems could occur. And then finally, we identify protection methods, which are low cost and are easy to do, that will alleviate the problem. So, it is unbelievable to me that someone would say there's not enough information, that there is a threat here. Of course, if you decide that there never will be high altitude burst, as apparently Dr. Tadeschi has done, then of course you could argue we may not need this protection, but there are other threats, geomagnetic storms and electromagnetic weapons, that can produce the same types of problems.
Let me go to the testimony, on that last point, Bill, because I do want to make sure we get this part out, because that does seem to be a driving assumption of Tadeschi and his colleagues that we don't have to worry about nuclear EMP, because there will never be a nuclear EMP attack on the United States, and if one believes this is true, it's what makes sense of his very comfortable...his being comfortable with the other vulnerability of the United States to EMP. Reading from his testimony, he says, "In Sandia team's view, the likelihood of a nuclear HEMP attack occurring above the Unites States is very remote. The advanced nuclear weapon states have had the capability to do significant damage against the United States and our power grid for many decades, but they have been, and hopefully will continue to be deterred from such attacks by a strong U.S. strategic deterrent." Now, let me speak to that part first. It's true that a nuclear EMP attack is--well--nobody knows. The commission didn't address that because, we can't foresee the future. History tends to suggest that when we dismiss a threat, because it seems very remote, very unlikely, a threat like flying airliners into skyscrapers in New York for example, then those threats tend to come true, because we're not protected against them. As the commission warned, vulnerability invites attack. We also know, which he doesn't mention in here, is that yeah, I mean deterrents has fortunately worked so far, but will it work forever? Can we count on that? Or should we do things to protect ourselves, to strengthen deterrents against that attack ever happening. Isn't a pound of prevention worth a thousand tons of cure, which is what we would have to do if we had an EMP event that was catastrophic to our society and put hundreds of millions of American lives at risk.
Isn't it worth the minor -- the small cost? It's like saying that well, because the likelihood of your house burning down from a fire is very low that therefore you should not bother to buy fire detectors. Okay? Or because the likelihood of getting struck by a car while crossing the street is very low, therefore you don't have to worry about buying life insurance. That logic, I mean that's the kind of logic that's exactly what it is. For very little money, we can provide a life insurance policy for the United States and it seems to be worth the investment. And -- how healthy is deterrents? If you understood the history of the Cold War, there were many times in the Cold War. I would ask Mr. Tadeschi to go read my book 'War Scare' where we came very close to deterrence failing. Deterrence hasn't proven itself to be robust and has repeatedly nearly failed, including as recently as 1995 after the fall of the Soviet Union when we almost had an accidental war with Russia precisely because they misinterpreted something that was being done by us as an EMP attack against them. Moreover, his testimony that blows off the EMP threat from countries like Russia, I mean makes no mention of the fact that we actually have been threatened fairly recently. The reason the commission was stood up in 1999 is because a U.S. congressional delegation was threatened to its face by Russia about doing an EMP attack in retaliation for NATO's bombing of the Balkan states. And then in 2008, Prime Minister Medvedev raised another EMP threat if we went forward with national missile defense in Eastern Europe, made an allusion to that about undertaking radioelectronic warfares and forward-deploying nuclear weapons to counter our national missile defense.
So there's clear signs that deterrence could fail in the future. We've never based our national security policy on the hope that the bad guys won't act. We've always tried to base that policy on a peace through strength policy, where we are prepared and that's how you deter these things, by being prepared, and Tadeschi is basically arguing you don't even have to worry about preparedness. (Crosstalk)
I don't want to bet my life on it. And--I mean, I wonder what would their position have been on December 06, 1941 or September 10, 2001, the day before Pearl Harbor, the day before September 11. Those things would have seemed highly unlikely. The enemy seems to go after where the weaknesses are and this is a clear weakness that's being broadcast so why wouldn't they? Even though they haven't, why wouldn't they? (Crosstalk)
We have a very bad record on guessing what the future is going to bring. So his judgment that an EMP attack on the United States is highly unlikely, the only way you can weigh the validity of that is to just look at the record of how many times we've been wrong about in the past and any prudent person would say, "Well, Bill, sorry but your judgment that this is unlikely to happen, how do you know? You don't have a crystal ball, and we have plenty of evidence." Let me get to the second part of it, which is even worse. In his testimony, he goes on, [Reading from William Tadeschi's testimony] "Some argue that terrorists, who might some day gain possession of a nuclear device, can conduct this similar type of attack and generate the same amount of damage. According to the team, the assertion that terrorist can use a nuclear warhead in a crippling HEMP attack against the United States is not credible and the likelihood that something like that happening is low. More detailed explanation can be provided in classified venue." Now, what a cowardly argument. Here again, he flatly contradicts both EMP Commission [reports] and all the other studies that examine the evidence on that, and there is substantial evidence to be concerned about that. He had his day in court in front of the Commission, wasn't able to make his case, because all he had was his opinion. He had no evidence and has no evidence and offers no evidence in this testimony. For him to say well, let's go into a -- if you want me to defend this view, let's go into a classified venue. The reason he said that is because he can't defend that view. We can't talked about classified matters on this show, but the Commission did do classified work, and that is common knowledge, and they came to the conclusion, as did all the other studies, that we have to worry about terrorists getting hold of a nuclear weapon and doing an EMP attack. Some of the data that's unclassified is extremely compelling and that can be discussed. Of course, he doesn't want to deal with this unclassified data, because it so undermines his position.
For example, we know that Iran already has nuclear weapons, and in the military doctrines of Russia, China, and North Korea and Iran, they described nuclear EMP attacks against the United States. So, they actually have these in their plans. It's not just a theoretical idea. Iran in open source writings, even though they don't have a nuclear weapon yet, their purpose, their primary interest in getting a nuclear weapon is to have a capability to do a nuclear EMP attack against the United States. They openly write, Iran, about making a nuclear EMP attack against the United States. Moreover, Iran has tested their Shahaf 3 ballistic missile in an EMP mode, launching in to high altitude, and doing high altitude fusing, which is another piece of data that supports the fact that this is a credible threat. Moreover, Iran has tested launching missiles off a vessel in the Caspian Sea. This led the commission to conclude that we have to be seriously concerned about Iran using a ship-launched EMP attack mode against the United States, so that they could do the attack anonymously. You know, Iran is also the world's leading sponsor of international terrorism. It's not hard to connect the dots, as Dr. Graham said in front of Congress when he was doing his testimony, that since Iran is the world leading sponsor of international terrorism, they consider the United States a threat, it's entirely plausible that they could pass a missile and a nuclear weapon to terrorists who they sponsor, to do an EMP attack against the United States. And the Obama Administration, which is not a conservative or crazy right-wing presidency by any means, they take nuclear terrorism far more seriously than Bill Tadeschi. In fact, they would agree with EMP commission about the threat from nuclear terrorism. That's why President Obama wants to pursue a no nuke world.
It's his primary argument. He has repeatedly raised concerns about nuclear terrorism. It's also one of the justifications that he used for passing the New START Treaty, so that--he was hoping that if Russia and the United States reduced their arsenals that the rest of the world might follow in our example and reduce their arsenals as well, and it would strengthen us in the upcoming Non-Proliferation Treaty conference to try to keep nuclear weapons and materials out of the hands of terrorists. And last, but not the least, I'm holding in my hand a document that comes from the White House, it's an unclassified document developed by the White House National Security staff and endorsed by all the relevant departments and agencies of the United States. It's titled "Planning Guidance for Response to a Nuclear Detonation" and it is dated June 2010. It's the second edition, June 2010. The Obama Administration is so concerned about terrorists getting hold of a nuclear weapon and detonating it in the U.S. city that they developed this planning guidance which is being provided--quietly provided--to state emergency responders, so that if there is a terrorist detonation of a nuclear weapon in a U.S. city, they will know what to do to protect people from fallout, so that hundreds of thousands of people don't die from fallout. So, the Obama Administration is that concerned. That's being very concerned of the possibility of a nuclear terrorist attack on the United States. They're taking all these special steps to try to protect us. Now, if you took the same weapon, a 10-kiloton weapon that they've got in this planning guidance, and you put that on a scud missile on a freighter off the coast of the United States, you could do an EMP attack, and instead of killing a hundred thousand Americans through fallout, you could kill 200 million Americans through the collateral effects of EMP. So, this breathtaking assertion by Tadeschi that we don't have to worry about nuclear terrorism, we don't have to worry about nuclear EMP attack... As far as I know, he and his team are alone in such an assertion. Most of our foreign and defence policy, since 09/11, has been driven by the concern over nuclear terrorism.
Oh, I'm sorry. There's one technical point that's very important that I would like to make that we have not covered. In his written testimony, Dr. Tadeschi says that there is inherent hardness in much of our electronics from E-1 (the early-time HEMP) and the late-time HEMP. I'm just not sure where this comes from on several levels. I'm one who has been working in the EMC field that talks about the electromagnetic protection of your everyday equipment that you have in your home. And he said, "Well, you've got cell phones, you've got radio waves... You've got these things and things work so everything must be okay." Well, that's just flat out wrong. First, in the U.S., we do not have mandatory immunity standards, except in specialized industries like aircraft and medical equipment. But even with those standards to protect against electromagnetic fields, things fail--all the time. There are just cases over an over again. I participate in and am chairman of a group in the IEEE EMC Society. We know about these problems. We're very concerned about smart grid putting out more electronics which may be vulnerable without requirements. He also makes the statement that large transformers don't fail from geomagnetic storms, because in the Northern tier, they see the storms all the time and they're okay. Well, this is just also false. There have been many cases of damage of transformers. ...in March 1989. There was one in New Jersey in 1994. There were 5 in Chicago, 2003. There were 11 in South Africa. And the thing that is interesting is each of those geomagnetic storms had much lower environments than we're talking about for EMP E3 or also, of course, the big geomagnetic storms that could occur in the future. So, I don't know where he gets this, but again, it has to do with the peer review. He is speaking about EMC, but I don't see he or his team participating very much in the EMC area. I don't see them at our meetings in the IEEE. I don't see them in the IEC. I don't see them participating in the US standards. So I'm not sure where he is getting this information, but it is just not true. The idea that there are some inherent protection against EMP is crazy, absolutely crazy.
Well, not only that, but they actually -- there was discussion about, well if protect against the solar piece, then we're protected on EMP. And there is another piece of this that they were talking about the solar storms. In particular, they were talking about the FERC study, where they did the hundred year storm and there was a lot of focus on the 1921 storm, that could last for 10 years, and they said how many people it would effect. Actually, there is a clip I want to play where Joe McClelland is talking about that -- and I'll get to that in one second -- and then it goes into...because we spend a lot of time talking about Tadeschi. The truth is there is some really disturbing testimony by David Owens of Edison Electric, as well as Mr. Cauley from NERC, and one of the quotes from Owens is in this next clip I want to play and this is the one that I definitely have to get to. It's the last one I'll do, because I want to get some time for you guys to comment on it. Most the time we spent today is on the technical aspect, because we've got you guys here doing that, but I recommend to anybody who's listening that they go back and listen to this whole thing and just listen to really what's being said, because there is a lot of discussion in there about (inaudible)...NERC. ...not only not giving them the power, but they are giving some suggestion that maybe we give the power that they already have to the industry, to NERC, and how they're doing -- The industry itself or the NERC, because they might able to do it better. Let me just play this one last clip. It's a little bit longer so please bear with me but I think it is worth it. [Plays audio recording of testimony before Senate committee made by Joe McClelland and David Owens.]
"Our studies did consider the likelihood of a solar magnetic disturbance over Winnipeg, Manitoba versus Minneapolis, Minnesota. We found that they were equally likely to occur.
"And in fact, if it happens over Minneapolis, Minnesota, the number of bulk power system transformers that could be damaged and destroyed reaches over 1,000, rather than 368, which was on the Winnipeg, Manitoba incident.
"So it can center, but it can also -- it can move around. And we just don't know where it will be. We don't know when it's going to happen again. We just know with certainty that it will happen again. It's inevitable."
[The next part of the audio recording from the Senate hearing is spoken by David Owens.]
"May I add to this conversation just very briefly. I do agree, and what they are demonstrating is there's no perfect solution. Mr. McClelland made a reference to the potential destruction of 300 transformers as he related back to the prior major solar activity we had in 1921.
"One of the things that we're seeking to do in the industry, working very closely with NERC, is to harden our systems, create redundancy in our systems. And with respect to transformers, we are making sure we have spare transformers.
"We have a very substantial spare transformer inventory that the industry for several years has been committing resources to, because we recognize how critical the transformers are, and if you lose a transformer it takes a while to restore service. So we're working to make sure we have this redundancy in our transformers.
"There are other elements, critical elements of our network as well that we're looking at. But there is no perfect solution."
So that last piece was David Owens, who was saying, we really have a lot of these transformers. I mean, Dr. Pry? Dr. Radasky?
I can comment on that. And in fact, we looked at that during the EMP Commission. Yes, there is a spare transformer program that the DOE has been running in the past for other reasons. But the problem with that is that you really can't have typically 10% -- say you had 10% spare transformers, and that might only be one at each facility--a substation might have 9 transformers. The problem is that all 9 in that location might be damaged, depending on the location of the geomagnetic storm or high altitude EMP burst, and it is not true that it's easy to move these transformers around. The capability to move them around is very difficult. I think to have a spare capability, you would have to have a much higher number than they're envisioning. And in fact, the cost of having of all those spare transformers and the time it will take to get them will be a long time, it could be 10 years and the cost will actually be higher than putting in the neutral protection that John Kappenman has recommended. I think it's a very good approach. Some people are using it in other parts of the world for different reasons, but it is a technology that works. It just has to be designed, standardized, and made available. One of the problems is every -- there is no one transformer that can be used by different power companies either. There are varieties of transformers used by the different companies, different voltage levels. It's not so easy. I mean, it is true, there is a spare transformer program, which has nothing to do with the EMP or geomagnetic storms, but the idea that this is the solution, I think it is not cost effective and it is a bit misleading, I believe.
I think it's more than a bit misleading, Bill. I think this is an example of where they came really close to lying to the Senate about this. But this issue about the transformers is one of the most important things that the Commission investigated, and it did it very thoroughly in order to take account of what kind of spares do we have. And the Commission concluded that we have less than 1% spares in this country in terms of the extremely high voltage transformers -- less than 1% spares. And you don't need to lose all of the transformers in order to have a catastrophe. As McClelland later testifies, the Commission came to the same conclusion about this, that if only 10% of the transformers failed, you would end up with a catastrophe to our society that would require 4 to 10 years to recover, and the National Academy of Science has supported that as well. So if only 10% failed, you would end up having catastrophic consequences to our civilization.
Yes, it's interesting to note that after McClelland mentioned a case where 1,000 transformers were involved, someone should have asked the gentleman is, oh, there are going to be 1,000 spares? And they are going to be at the right locations? As I understand from speaking again to my colleague John Kappenman, they can take weeks to move one transformer.
It takes 18 months, and it takes 18 months to build a new one.
Oh, yeah. To build a new one plus even to transport, even to move one. They take a very special vehicle, at the high voltage level, and there are very few trained people that can do this job.
We are overtime, but if you will let us indulge, because this is so important, I want to keep you a little longer, Bill. Let me ask you ask a couple of specific technical questions that was related to Owens's testimony. He represents, he told the Senate that if the 1921 geomagnetic event happened today that we would be okay, that the plans they have currently in place would be able to handle that. Do you agree?
Oh, no. Absolutely not. I'm shocked by that statement if it's -- I have followed fairly closely what's going on in the industry, and there is just no way for the power companies that we have evaluated that certainly would not be the case, and they are large power companies. So I don't know where that number is coming from. [Crosstalk]
There was a lot of discussion in that hearing about the 1921 storm, the hundred year storm. They never even addressed the 1859 level storm, the Carrington Even storm. And the other point I just want to make very quickly because we're talking a lot about what different people said, and we're throwing a lot acronyms around like FERC, which is the government, and NERC, which is private and then these other private entities. One of the disadvantages that I think, in all fairness, we have to say, that in addition to being outnumbered, that FERC had, is that they were limited in what they could come out and say. They're not advocates. I mean, they are there to be asked questions and answer questions and if they're not asked the right questions or they're asked the follow up question, it's not really their place to volunteer it.
Could I just mention something on the 1921 and 1859, the work that was done, and it was done for the National Academy of Sciences, was to look at those two old storms without the benefit of modern measuring equipment, but using other techniques to try to establish the electromagnetic levels. Both of those storms, actually 1921 and 1859, are probably on the same order of level of geomagnetic storm, but here is the real kicker that most people don't understand. The level assumed for the geomagnetic storm environment is a factor of 2 only above a measurement performed within the last 20 years in the world. So this worst, worst, worst case is only a factor of 2 over what has already been measured. What happened, this measurement was in Copenhagen, Denmark, on a small island with a small power grid and only for a few minutes. If that event had occurred over the United States, we would have seen a major catastrophe. It would have been, and it was 4 times higher than what the level that took down the Hydro-Quebec network. So, when people talk about this worst-worst case, it is a worst case based on scientific judgments, but it's not out of the question. It's something that could easily happen at anytime.
We're not trying to imagine the worst possible case. We're looking at things that have actually happened in nature, where those geomagnetic storms are concerned. So, that was basically misleading or, I will use the word falsehood, that we would be able to handle the 1921 storm. Another assertion is that, because, we have a satellite that can predict, that can give us early warning against, that industry has made, that can give us early warning of a geomagnetic storms that therefore we're okay. We have our procedures, that we have in place, are okay. The NERC's own study repudiated that and said, this new category of the geomagnetic storms is so great that we need better means of preparedness. But, let me ask you, Bill, if we had early warning from the satellite, have we ever practiced a black start in the United States? Have we ever practiced a "black down" where we would shut down the electric grid nationwide, which is what they are usually talking about to protect ourselves from a geomagnetic storm. Have we ever done that before?
No, no and I doubt, I doubt that...
And would not we have to practice that in order for it to work?
I doubt that we would ever do that. But let me just mention quickly, using the data from the satellite and also the earlier information as to what occurred on the sun days before, could be used to provide capability for power industry to minimize their damage situation, including shutting down. However, the capability was only designed once and frankly, I don't want hype my company, but Metatech did it for the national grid in the UK. They asked us to do that, and we provided them a real-time capability into their...with computer codes to give them notice that within minutes they were ready to be hit. And we helped them design mitigation techniques to minimize their possible impacts within minutes, and it was in an old-fashioned book on an operator's table. While I think it is true that operational considerations can be helpful, the industry is not prepared for it. They've been asked and told that this could be provided to them, but they are relying on very poor information from NOAA, from one magnetometer station in Boulder, Colorado, to give the information to power companies. Power companies like this, because it is free, and it comes from the government so it must be right. But it's not state-of-the-art, and it's not anywhere up to what was done 10 years ago in the United Kingdom. So it is true, operational information would be helpful to reduce the losses, but a combination of operational hardening and real hardening--electromagnetic protection--is really what's needed, and that would be cost effective and minimize the damage.
What about the assertion that the big transformers, you know the EHV transformers, are inherently hard and would survive a nuclear EMP?
I cannot understand that because, in fact, we looked very carefully comparing the geomagnetic storms, even the worst case geomagnetic storm, and the high altitude EMP, and we see under some considerations, it does depend on burst location and height of burst and yield. But the worst case, let's compare worst case geomagnetic storm to worst case E3 HEMP. The levels are much higher from the nuclear burst. However, the area coverage is less. Now when I say area coverage, the area coverage for E3 HEMP might only be the eastern half of the United States. Whereas, a geomagnetic storm could cover all of the US. And the reason for that is the particles are coming from space, they're very diffuse, they move around. The hotspots actually move minute by minute, actually walk across the United States. This happened in 1989 where it started in Quebec and swept all the way up to Alaska over about 10 minutes and creating havoc all the way along the way. Fortunately, for the power grid, it was in Canada and there is not -- in Northern Canada and Western Canada -- there are not large power grids like there are in Eastern Quebec. So again, the answer is the E3 HEMP is much worse. It is more localized, because it starts from a point. So that's the good news. But, the bad news is we have demonstrations of failures of transformers at less than 10% of the worst case levels from either E3 HEMP or geomagnetic storms. Failures occur at very low levels, probably because the transformers were weakened by previous storms. We did not consider that in our analysis. We considered every transformer was fresh. The idea that these transformers aren't damaged, people are not looking at the evidence. There had been documented cases of 1+5+11 -- so you are into 17 at very small geomagnetic storms. So I don't know where his information is coming from.
Right. That testimony is counterfactual, because geomagnetic storms have actually destroyed transformers.
Yes. That's absolutely true.
We know that that is a real world phenomena, and the nuclear EMP, as you've stated, is even worse.
It is worse.
Let me get to another point. I think I just want to make two more points then I can let you go. From Bill Tadeschi's testimony. [Reading from William Tadeschi's testimony before the Senate committee.] "Finally, not enough data exist to confidently assess the extent of any power grid outages from a nuclear HEMP attack and the amount of time needed for recovery."
This is a bit of lengthy quote, but... [Reads more from William Tadeschi's testimony before the Senate committee.]
"Several real world examples have been studied on how the grid might respond to E3-like effects. For example, the March 1989 Hydro Quebec grid collapse due to a severe solar geomagnetic storm and the August 2003 power outage in the Northeastern United States, and table top exercises have been developed on how utilities would find and fix the resultant EMP-induced damage and bring the grid back on line after a certain period. However, one can only perimetrically evaluate the impact of nuclear E1 and E3 attacks because we do not know the level and extent of damage that would actually occur. From an integrated total risk perspective, the Sandia team considers nuclear HEMP threats to be of remote likelihood. Also, the true extent of the grid susceptibility and vulnerability to such effects, be they temporary, permanent or not even present, and the resultant consequences, damage extent and period they would be lasting are mostly unknown except for the assumed worst case environments and assumptions made in the current nuclear HEMP threat studies that the Sandia technical peer review team evaluated."
My question here is -- is it true -- is our uncertainty, when you put together all the data that we can do for analysis by computers, by testing, by historical experiences -- is it true that our uncertainty is so great about what might happen in a nuclear EMP attack that there might not be any damage at all present?
That you could basically do a nuclear EMP attack over the United States? Because that what he says, "not even present." That if you lit off a nuclear weapon over the United States, HEMP attack, that it might do nothing?
Yeah. I just cannot believe that. That just doesn't seem possible and that quote was so long and so involved and so complex, I'm not really sure what to make of it. It is true that in many of the studies we did, since we did not consider cascading of the grid, that the effects could be worse from a given incident. Because we didn't take a worst case assumption as he apparently believes. On the other hand, it's certainly true that different size yields and different locations could occur and that is uncertain, but I don't know any way to get into the mind of the attacker. It is just too complicated. So what we did is we examined bursts at many different locations and many different yields. All of those were not published in the FERC study, that's true, and we didn't identify the designs and weapon yields, because that would be sensitive information. However--certainly there is variability--but to say that there would no effect completely boggles my mind because even a very small-yield weapon detonated above the US would create enough early time HEMP to wreak havoc with control equipment. And we're talking about relays and computers. And with very modest protection, this could be done. Also the number of damaged transformers would be less if the yield was small enough, but to say that because of these uncertainties and variabilities, we should do nothing, to me is very strange. I don't understand.
Very strange and very irresponsible. I would add the attempts to enthrone computer analyses on this as the ultimate way -- that we need to turn to Sandia, to Bill Tadeschi, to computer modeling that would be done at Sandia, is also counterfactual, because you don't need the computer models.
Which by the way, which all support, the conclusions of the Commission and all these other studies that an EMP, nuclear EMP, would be a catastrophe but then, just common sense...just common sense. If you look at one of the things that have caused grid failure in the past, the great 2003 Northeast blackout was caused by a falling tree branch. We have had ice storms cause multi-state blackouts. The phenomena of tree branch blackouts that cause major problems with the grid are commonplace phenomena.
Look at brownouts and blackouts. Under normal stress, just under normal stress, the grid that we know -- the grid is constantly operating under verge of failure, because it's old, it's antiquated, it's obsolete, it has got a lot of parts that are just ready to break. So if a falling tree branch can cause a multi-state blackout, does it make sense that a nuclear EMP attack over the United States is not -- is not -- going to cause a problem and therefore we don't have to worry about it, isn't that amazing?
Let me put this in the context of the electromagnetic, which is getting a bit more technical, but I have seen this problem occurring, and it's not just at the national labs, with their big computers. You got a big computer, you got to find problems to solve with it because they've got to be utilized, but it's not just that. It's a trend that's occurred because computers are taking the place of actual thinking, and let me give you an example which you will know very well Peter. The Russians, doing their research, didn't have the fast computers. We restricted a lot of the technology from them. They didn't have the best computers, yet they did remarkable work. In our country, advanced did most of the cable coupling work early on, and in fact Bill Graham did a lot of work also with very rudimentary computers, but a lot of analytic work. I have a fear that what's happening in and not just at the national labs, but in other places too. The idea of big fast computers is taking the place of thinking, of logical thinking and problem solving, and this is not a good situation. It's something that has to be corrected, and I agree completely with you. The idea that we've got a big computer, we've got to use it somehow. I mean obviously, it's needed in designing nuclear weapons. I don't know that we design very many of them anymore in this country, but that is the reason they have them and I think they should stick to that.
The last quote here, from Bill Tedeschi's testimony. [Reads from William Tedeschi's testimony before the Senate committee.]
"The Sandia technical review team recommends that this complex problem be studied in more depth in order into include results from additional computer-based simulations and experimental testing. Specifically, under nuclear HEMP threat conditions, how do high-voltage transformers in their protection and control elements respond to the range of induced-current insults, and if they fail, how do they fail?"
It is possible Bill Radasky? Is it possible that after a decade of work by the EMP commission and now these -- all other studies and not only that, but you know I mean, that there were 50 years of the cold war when we're looking at this. Are we ignorant of that core problem? Do we really need to do more computer analysis and testing of the transformers before we take any steps to protect them? Or do we know enough now, that we know they're at risk and we need to move forward to protect these assets?
Yeah, I think -- I mean, I think we have adequate knowledge, based on standards that they have been developing the power industry for large transformers. They're based on the levels of currents and the time in which those currents are present. It is not to say we know everything we need to know. And one of the reasons that we don't have design criteria for building transformers to be immune from geomagnetic storms or HEMP is just because people haven't identified those specifications or that requirement. Then once you have the requirement, people can actually do the work to try to design the transformers. What I think, it will be very difficult to create--to stop local heating within the transformer. When a transformer has the quasi-DC current impressed on the AC current, you get into a situation where the magnetic fields in the transformer leave the cores and start to focus their energy in other parts of the transformer. It's very difficult to control. People have been doing analysis for years--and not at the national labs--people in the power industry, trying to understand saturation and its effects. It's a very complicated problem, but wait to say "Well gee, we can't do anything until we understand everything" is I think a foolish approach. I think there is nothing wrong with continued studies, but the studies should not stop defining protection approaches which are very simple and do not involve redesigning the transformers that are out there today. Even if you had a new transformer that was immune, what do you do with the 5000 of them that are in the United States today? How long do you think it would take to replace them? I think that approach makes no sense at all.
I quite concur. And now we come to the last point. I won't read it from the testimony, because it's throughout his testimony, and I remember this from Bill Tedeschi in the days when we were dealing with him on the EMP Commission as well, and it is basically -- his logic seems to be wired backwards. And this fundamental point that comes up over and over again, in terms of what is the responsible pathway forward for policy. You know, he wants to have such a high standard in terms of knowing everything. He does not want our nation to take any step forward. He wants us to do nothing until we know everything. That seems to be basically the philosophy, and it's sort of like, I mean in effect his argument, this is not a caricature of his argument. This is exactly commensurate with how he is arguing how we treat the EMP issue. He is basically saying that we shouldn't try to cure--treat people for cancer and take steps to try to prevent cancers until we have done enough research, so that we know absolutely for sure how to cure cancer. Or to use other metaphor, it's like well, suppose we had some computer models that were imperfect in terms of the aerodynamic capabilities of certain air liners and the best computer models, they fall short of the mark, they didn't know everything, they were imperfect, but the best computer models were predicting that this particular design of an air liner was going to fail in a lightning storm, let's say. Alright? Well, if I use Bill Tedeschi's logic, we shouldn't do anything to protect those air liners, you know from lightning, until we better develop better computer models so that we know absolutely for certain that the thing is going to fail.
And we don't need the computer models, actually, because we know, from the geomagnetic storms that have actually happened, and we know from these falling tree branches, and other phenomenology, that have caused major blackouts in the United States, and yes for sure we already know for sure. The computer models may not know for sure, but we know for sure from all sources, because you've taken an approach beyond computer models. You take all the evidence into account, including the design of systems, that in a nuclear EMP attack they are going to fail, and there's going to be catastrophic consequences. But this backward logic has basically been the thing driving him. You know, this elevation of certainty based on Bill Tedeschi's ability to do testing, and Sandia, their ability to do computing, to put everything on hold until they give us the green light to move forward. And that's just formula for really doing nothing because there's always going to be -- if you can make money doing that by holding up the effort to get this country protected then everybody will get into that game and put up a green light. You know we've done enough studies. We know we're vulnerable you know we need to protect the system and the last thing... Did you have something you want to say?
Peter, that was me, Ross. I was just going to really quickly comment. You know that, in addition to what Tedeschi says, you know there is other things too, like the industry just wanting to have the ability to kind of put the hold on things, they don't want to just be told what to do, and so in part of that, there were comments made, for example by Gerry Cauley of North American Electric Reliability Corporation, that I'm going to paraphrase, because I don't have the quote in front of me, but he basically said, you know look when it comes to things like safety, you know, I don't think we should act quickly. And I think what he was intending to say is that we have to get it right and not just act quickly, but the problem is we've got enough here that we can act now on some of these issues, and it's not a matter of you know like we're just jumping the gun and moving forward without knowing. You know you guys have laid out the case of everything that's been done. Especially if you look at doing you know what the Commission recommended, what others have recommended with the gradiated measures of saying, "Okay, look we know these are the biggest problems. Let's fix those and then we can continue to research and we continue to put in assets." You know and additional assets on working the problem as we get moving, but the time to do something is now.
Well, I'll make one last comment, then we'll close the show. You know we've run way over the hour, and Dr. Radasky has been far too generous with his time, but I know he knows the importance of what we're doing here, that we need to get this information back to the Senate from our hearing, but let me close this hearing by making this observation, and it's my observation, nobody should blame Bill Radasky or Ross Howarth for this, it's my observation. And it is this, because our listening audience may be asking how can this happen? How can someone be so wrong? How can we have a scientist at Sandia coming in front of the United States Senate and making statements that are so wrong? How is that possible? Aren't we exaggerating? Just help the other testimony is. Surely the guy has got some good points and the truth must lay some place in between. Yes?
No, the truth doesn't lay some place in between. I'll tell you how this can happen. The problem we have with government workers and government scientists, many of them are excellent, but there are people within the government--it's exactly the same that problem we have with the teacher's unions. You can never fire the bad teachers. The best place and the longest employment for the incompetent is in government, whether it's local, state, or federal, and this is even true of scientists. And I think that this an object lesson in that. Yes, even in Sandia National Laboratory, even in the highest reaches of the US government where we have our so-called experts, there are people who have found comfortable sinecures, who aren't really very good at their jobs, who aren't really very objective about the evidence, and we pay them a lot of money, and they get to come in front of the Senate and do a lot of damage to our national security. And that's why this happened and that's the truth. And with that, I just want to thank Dr. William Radasky.
Thank you for having me.
Lord Kelvin Medal holder in electromagnetic physics, okay? You know, for coming on this show and sharing his wisdom for us. On behalf of all of our listeners, I am sure we would all love to have the Senate invite you to give testimony in front of them. The members of the EMP Commission to give testimony in front of them. The Commission and none of the bodies that have done these studies have ever been invited in front of this committee to give testimony. [Crosstalk]
I find it disappointing, and I hope to have that opportunity, but I guess I don't expect it.
Probably especially not after this radio show sir, but thank you for coming on and telling the truth. And I thank you -- you listeners out there, for staying with us. We're going to continue to fight for this. Hopefully, not everybody on the Senate agrees. I know they are not -- that everybody on that Senate committee does not agree and there are people on that Senate committee that are with us, and so hopefully, we can get this turned around. Our next week's guest is a former Assistant Secretary of State, Paula DeSutter for a return appearance. Ross, do you have any last comments you want to make?
Yeah, I do. I mean, I just really quickly want to go back to this. I mean, the Senate hearing certainly was a step backwards. I mean, they even commented at that time that, "Hey we have a lot same people here that we had during the 111th Congress when we were looking at some of the cyber bills." Hopefully, as they move forward, they will bring in some of these other people. But right now, there is not much time to act, and so I would be remiss if we finish this show, because there could be new people, without talking about the fact that we need that SHIELD Act to get push forward and ideally, we need to get that hearing to occur in the House in May or June, so we can get this thing to a floor vote, so we can get it passed to the Senate. But one of things that I want to point out is that EMPACT America is setting up a volunteer Congressional boiler room to contact members of Congress and if people want to contact us, if they can help us out that would be great and they can reach us at the main headquarter number which is 716-435-7873. They can send an email to email@example.com. We're putting some more information on our website. We're going to let people know how they can contact FERC and let FERC know that they support the Shield Act and that they support the statements that have been made by in the positions that have been put out by FERC. We're also going to look at calls going to the Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee that we've been talking about the hearing that happened today, but also on the House-side to the Energy and Commerce Committee, because they need hear from us too, to let them know that we support that Shield Act and that we really want true EMP protection and not something that's watered down, not something that is affected by this unfortunate testimony that we've talking about today. In addition to that, you can really also help us make a difference by contacting your representative in Congress to encourage them to support the Shield Act and it's really easy to do. First, you can complete the online campaigns that we have at www.GuardTheGrid.com. That's GuardTheGrid.com. You can spread the words to your friends and families to complete those campaigns online, and if you can't complete them, we have physical form online. You can hand out physical forms to people that we have on our webpage and then just fax them back to us and we'll take care of the rest, or you can call and fax those Representatives on your own and we have details list and other forms are on line at www.shieldact.com. That's www.shieldact.com. So, that concludes my remarks.
Thank you Ross and we will be back next Wednesday as I said with Paula DeSutter former Assistant Secretary of State. Thank you America. Keep the faith and keep fighting.
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It's good to talk.