Case Study—Literature Review

Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC)


Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC)The US Navy's extremely low frequency (ELF) Communications System, which transmitted from 70 miles of overhead antennas in Northern Wisconsin and Upper Michigan, communicated with submarines located anywhere in the world using a binary coded signal. Controversy and opposition to the ELF Communications System continued at some level throughout its planning and operation, much of it centered on concern about possible health and environmental effects of the signal. The Navy chose to address this concern with two efforts: a substantial program of directed ecologic and laboratory research using the specific ELF Communications System signal, and a systematic ongoing review and assessment of the international peer-reviewed scientific literature on electromagnetic field (EMF) health and environmental effects, initiated in 1985 and continued until the transmitter was shut down in September 2004. IVI was awarded two successive contracts to provide Navy staff with effective, comprehensive, and independent scientific literature monitoring services and objective analysis of any reported potential adverse effects.


IVI identified and analyzed a range of ELF EMF literature including

IVI also reviewed and selectively reported on

Every year, IVI staff presented a tutorial to Navy personnel on the latest ELF EMF research developments at an Environmental Review Committee Meeting that was open to the public, including Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal representatives living in Hayward, Wisconsin, near one of the transmitter sites.


IVI produced 29 detailed analytical reports and maintained a computerized database and reprint collection of reviewed documents (totaling 6,738 by program end), and assisted Navy staff in dealing with questions from the public and legislators about possible adverse effects from operation of their facility. The Navy's level of concern evidenced by this highly professional, systematic ongoing EMF research monitoring effort helped them maintain a positive relationship with the majority of the public living near the transmitter sites, and may be partly responsible for the Navy's ability to keep the transmitter operating for over 20 years in spite of activist opposition and protests.

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