Project HAARP: The "Official" Impacts
by Gar Smith

Earth Island Journal. Winter 95
Vol. 10 Issue 1 p21

The Fall issue of Earth Island Journal featured an article on Project HAARP, a joint US Air Force-Navy plan to "perturb" the Earth's ionosphere with intense blasts of electromagnetic energy beamed from a site in Gakona, Alaska. Project HAARP officials subsequently supplied the Journal with a copy of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). Here is an update.

The construction of the HAARP transmitter will affect 51 acres of black spruce forest and 18 acres of wetlands. The forests will be cut and the wetlands filled. The FEIS deemed these conifer forests "the least sensitive and most expendable" because they "are so common."

According to "preliminary estimates," HAARP construction would require the delivery of 7300 truckloads, totaling 160,000 cubic yards of "non-frost susceptible gravel." The gravel site with the most "potential" is 25 miles away. The impacts on the native moose population would include "loss of habitat, interference with migration patterns, and increased human-caused mortality [i.e., from hunting]. The HAARP project would directly remove, through clearing, filling or fencing, approximately 51 acres of habitat...." Habitat loss would also affect black bear populations, three wolf packs (totaling 15-24 wolves) and two caribou herds as well as a host of smaller animals including red fox, coyote, lynx, marten, muskrat, ermine, beaver, river otter, wolverine, mink, lemming, vole, Arctic shrew, Arctic ground squirrel and snowshoe hare.

Fouling the Air

"The most important source of air pollutants" would be HAARP's 15-megawatt power plant, driven by six 3600 hp diesel generators. The power plant would consume an estimated 191,800 pounds of diesel fuel per day, producing roughly 1870 pounds of SOx (sulfur oxides) and 13,300 pounds of NOx (nitrous oxides).

Rooftop radiators would disperse the heat skyward through exhaust stacks (not yet designed). The plant could operate at full power for only 38 days before exceeding federal air-quality standards.

Approximately 200,000 gallons of diesel fuel (stored onsite in four 50,000-gallon above-ground fuel storage tanks) would be burned during each HAARP "campaign" -- a campaign includes ten preparation days, 14 experiment days and four shutdown days.

The FEIS states that if more than five campaigns were scheduled per year, "this might require that additional emission-control devices be used at the HAARP site." Conveniently, HAARP is only scheduled to host "four to five campaigns a year...."

Hitting the HAARP Strings

Swans are the most abundant of the region's 119 bird species, followed by ducks and passerines. The FEIS notes that the Gakona site "lies within the Copper River Basin, which is one of Alaska's more important migration corridors" along the Pacific Flyway, but concludes that only birds weighing more than three pounds and measuring more than 16 inches in length would be at risk from HAARP's 10 MHz beams.

The real danger to birds, however, is from flying into the network of HAARP's wire-anchored antennas. Most at risk would be swans, owls, ducks and passerines.

HAARP's 115-foot-diameter Incoherent Scatter Radar (ISR) dish would stand on a 25-foot thick, 35-foot-tall support structure. Other HAARP antenna elements would rise 80-100 feet above the ground. Observers reported that song birds and shore birds flew within the danger zone 41 percent of the time.

According to the FEIS, "swans, especially trumpeter swans, are probably the group most at risk of colliding with the antenna structures," especially during the October migration when poor weather conditions force the swans to fly low to the ground.

Zapping the Ground and the Sky

The FEIS reports that "the government commissioned a special study" to determine the "bio-effects" of HAARP's radio frequency radiation (RFR). The report concluded that "chronic exposure to RFR... did not result in demonstrable, detrimental health effects" to humans. The FEIS admitted that RFR exposure could cause the human body to heat up, but that this unwanted heat "can be easily accommodated within the thermo-regulatory capabilities of an individual[and] may not necessarily be harmful."

The FEIS corroborated the Journal's concern that "potentially affected systems... [would] include cardiac pacemakers, electro-explosive devices [EEDs], and fuel handling systems." EEDs, including flares carried by individuals or in vehicles, could be exploded 1300 feet from HAARP's Ionospheric Research Instrument (IRI) transmitter -- a quarter-mile away.

Radio frequency radiation could be a problem since, as the FEIS notes, Gakona lies "within a major commercial air traffic corridor that links Anchorage with the eastern and mid-western US." It also is within the path of flight to and from the Orient and Canada. Twelve-to-20 commercial flights per day utilize the airspace above the Gakona Site.

The IRI's 8.0 MHz and 10.0 MHz beams "could potentially pose a hazard to occupants of aircraft flying nearby... in the unlikely event they remain in the main beam for an extended period of time." At aircraft cruising altitude of 30,000 feet (5.7 miles), the inverted cone formed by the sweep of the IRI beam is 6.8 miles wide.

Countering assumptions that most of HAARP's would be "lost" to space, the FEIS reveals that "80-90 percent of the experiments would employ the IRI in modes that refract fundamental radio frequency energy Earthward from the ionosphere."

And What About the Ionosphere?

The 440-page FEIS states flatly that "The ozone layer would not be affected and ozone would not be depleted" as a result of HAARP operations, but devotes less than a page to this critical topic. The only study cited is a single 13-page "draft assessment" by the Mission Research Corporation (MRC).

The FEIS spends less than three pages on HAARP's ionospheric effects and bases its conclusions solely on "personal communications" between officials at MRC and the consulting firm of Metcalf and Eddy. The FEIS reports that IRI transmissions will cause the temperature of free electrons in the Earth's ionosphere could rise by 80 degrees F. Below 124 miles, the IRI would trigger a 20 percent increase in "electron density," while above 124 miles, electron densities would decrease 10-15 percent. The effect could last "an entire polar night."

A second study, "Independent Assessment of HAARP Effects on the Upper atmosphere" by R. Roble, also concluded that "there would be no measurable effects to the Earth's ozone layer." The FEIS identified this study as having been provided by MRC. The study was described as consisting of "one page."

The authors of the Journal's HAARP story remain convinced that the potential impacts of Project HAARP deserve a through scientific and public hearing.

HAARP Update

On November 22, then-House Armed Service Committee chairman Ron Dellums (D-CA), formally invited the Pentagon to respond to the issues raised in the Journal's Fall article.

Copyright 1995, Earth Island Journal. Articles may be freely reprinted with prior permission. Please credit Earth Island Journal and send samples.

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