WHAT TO DO?



EMP attack on the electrical power system is an extraordinarily serious problem but one that can be reduced below the level of a catastrophic national consequence through focused effort coordinated between industry and government. 

Industry is responsible for assuring system reliability, efficiency, and cost effectiveness as a matter of meeting required service levels to be paid for by its customers. Government is responsible for protecting the society and its infrastructure, including the electric power system. Only government can deal with barriers to attack — interdiction before consequence. Only government can set the standards necessary to provide the appropriate level of protection against catastrophic damage from EMP for the civilian sector. Government must validate related enhancements to systems, fund security-only related elements, and assist in funding others.

The situation created by the HEMP threat is clear. Many portions of our critical infrastructure are at risk, including the power grid itself. While there are options available for dealing with HEMP, the most important question is whether we can expect commercial business to deal with this problem alone. A Special EMP Commission (SEMPC) must be founded and has discussed this point in their deliberations, and while commercial businesses could choose to enhance their protection levels above those needed for other electromagnetic threats, the distributed infrastructure cannot be protected with a piecemeal local approach. Government will have to take a role, either by coordinating the work to be done and/or by providing incentives to accomplish the job over time. While the military has experience in dealing with its systems and the threat of HEMP, it is not well positioned to deal with the commercial infrastructure. It seems that this is a role for the SEMPC.  High impact threat of HEMP that requires a combination of protection, operational procedures and rebuilding after an attack.

From a protection point of view, standardization bodies such as the IEC have already initiated standards dealing with protecting equipment and systems from HEMP: 

IEC TR 61000-1-3: Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) – Part 1-3: General – The effects of high-altitude EMP (HEMP) on civil equipment and systems

IEC 61000-2-9:  Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) – Part 2: Environment – Section 9: Description of HEMP environment – Radiated disturbance. Basic EMC publication

IEC 61000-2-10: Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) – Part 2-10: Environment – Description of HEMP environment – Conducted disturbance

IEC 61000-4-32: Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) – Part 4-32: Testing and measurement techniques – HEMP simulator compendium. Basic EMC publication

In addition the IEEE has several standards dealing with electromagnetic compatibility of equipment in the IEEE EMC Society and the Power Engineering Society. These standards could be strengthened to deal with the threat of HEMP.

From an operational point of view, studies should be performed for each of the infrastructures to determine whether an alert would allow them to be placed in a less vulnerable state. For example, Metatech Corporation has provided a power grid operator 30 minutes notice of an impending geomagnetic storm that could cause a regional power system collapse. In addition, operational actions were predetermined in order to allow quick reaction to the impending storm. With pre-planning, power companies would be prepared to avoid a potentially severe power grid voltage collapse caused by a HEMP burst in their region of operation.

In terms of rebuilding after an attack, another option is to anticipate the types of damage that could occur and to preposition replacement equipment where it is likely to be needed. This could reduce the problem of shortages of equipment that seldom fail under normal operations but would have a much higher failure rate during a HEMP attack.

It should be understood that these three building blocks are not mutually exclusive, and in fact cost-benefit analyses would be effective in determining the optimum balance between protection, operational responses and rebuilding. In the end, however, it is still critical that SEMPC with another government agency take the responsibility to plan and oversee the protection of the such critical infrastructure as national power grid from this HEMP threat.

Protecting the Critical 10 Percent.
The study assumes that any community that can protect roughly ten percent of its critical infrastructure such as energy and communications requirements will gain much more than a ten percent reduction of loss. Despite the general loss of economic output, protecting that critical ten percent of infrastructure will make it possible to maintain water distribution for drinking and fire protection and the general though minimal communications necessary to protect life and property. To see the potential advantages of shielding, the analysis looked at the option of protecting 10 percent of the strategic components of the communications systems and creating EMP protected micro-grids that would provide communities with 10 percent of its most critical power needs. The local nature of micro-grids also makes it inherently easier to protect from EMP. The economic impacts associated with this alternative are based on the following assumption: by shielding equipment, 10 percentage points of damage are assumed to be eliminated from the effects of an EMP (e.g., if 30% of equipment is damaged when no equipment is shielded, then 20 percent of equipment is damaged if strategic components are shielded). Because partial shielding will reduce damage to critical infrastructure, it will tend to reduce the time required to recover full economic vitality, though initial recovery would be significantly enhanced or ensured. For example, if the Baltimore/Annapolis area had protected roughly ten percent of its strategic infrastructure, such as power through the use of EMP protected micro-grids and related systems and emergency communications through the use of shielded systems and related SCADA devices, it could ensure its water supply, the functioning of its emergency communication centers and hospitals. If those essential services were not available and local government had no situational awareness or ability to respond to fires and other emergencies, then the situation would get worse instead of better and far less immediate help could be brought to bear. The number of confounding factors influencing total recovery time is substantial. While it is assumed that shielding might have substantial near-term beneficial effect, the uncertainties of this effect for the long-term (e.g., if EMP damage were extensive) are substantial. For example, if a large number of electric transformers and much of the telecommunications system are damaged (except for EMP immune elements), maintaining situational awareness may well facilitate the initial deployment of the available transformers in the most strategic locations. However, the backlog back at the factory producing transformers might not be meaningfully improved if that backlog takes years to fulfill. Additional factory capacity would similarly take time to become available. Accordingly, the estimate long-term recovery time is left largely unchanged. Because of this approach, and the fact that secondary and tertiary effects are not considered along with damage estimates, these ranges of economic effects due to EMP should all be considered low or conservative estimates of actual damage. Also, note that economic capacity damage is not the same as infrastructure damage. Even if 10% infrastructure is protected in the low EMP impact scenario, equipment will be damaged and the economic impact will be less.


Electronic equipment may be hardened by surrounding it with protective metallic shielding which routes damaging electromagnetic fields away from highly sensitive electrical components. This method, known as Faraday cage protection, is traditionally used to protect electronic equipment from a lightning strike. However, power surges HEMP or HPM weapons could possibly involve peak currents of tens of millions of amps which can pass through a protective Faraday cage. Additionally, equipment placed within a Faraday cage may also be made vulnerable by any wires running into to the cage which can conduct the electromagnetic shockwave into the equipment. Depending on the power level involved, points of entry into the shielded cages can sometimes be protected from electromagnetic pulse by using specially designed surge protectors, special wire termination procedures, screened isolated transformers, spark gaps, or other types of specially-designed electrical filters. Critical systems may also be protected by increasing the number of backup units, and by keeping these units dispersed and out of range of the electromagnetic pulse source emitter.

Unfortunately, hardening systems is difficult and expensive. To protect electronics infrastructure, entire systems must be encased in a metallic shield to prevent any external electromagnetic pulse from entering. Moreover, antennas and power connections must be equipped with surge protectors, windows must be coated with wire mesh or conductive coating, and doors must be sealed with conductive gaskets. Fiber optic cable is not vulnerable to EMP, but the switches and controls that use microelectronics in conjunction with the fiber optic cable need to be protected. Continuing efforts to replace copper communications cable with fiber optic cable will significantly reduce overall EMP vulnerability. To ensure that the protection lasts for the lifetime of the equipment, system maintenance and testing should be performed regularly. If a system is modified, repaired, or serviced, its EMP vulnerability should be reassessed.


Protect the vital nodes of our power grid and telecommunications systems.
Much of our power grid and telecommunications systems is vulnerable to EMP attack. However, protecting the most important elements of our infrastructure that would be key to any post-EMP recovery (e.g., large turbines, generators, highvoltage transformers, and electronic telecommunications switching systems) is possible. These major nodes are not only critical to the nation’s power-grid and telecommunications
capability, but would be extremely difficult and time consuming to rebuild or repair. Protecting these critical infrastructure nodes may be expensive in the near term, but it could save the nation significantly in both money and lives in the future.

Protecting our power grid against the evolving EMP threat will require a mix of active defenses, passive defenses, and policy changes. It is not practical to try to protect the entire electrical power system or even all highvalue components from damage by an EMP event. There are too many components of too many different types, manufactures, ages, and designs. The cost and time would be prohibitive. Widespread collapse of the electrical power system in the area affected by EMP is virtually inevitable after a broad geographic EMP attack, with even a modest numberof unprotected components. Since this is a given, the focus of protection is to retain and restore service to critical loads while permitting relatively rapid restoration. The approach to protection has the following fundamental aspects. These will collectively reduce the recovery and restoration times and minimize the net impact from assault. All of this is feasible in terms of cost and timing if done as part of a comprehensive and reasonable response to the threats, whether the assault is physical, electromagnetic (such as EMP), or cyber.

Specifically need:

1. Protect high-value assets through hardening. Hardening, providing for special
grounding, and other schemes are required to assure the functional operation of protection equipment for large high-value assets such as transformers, breakers, and generators and to so protect against sequential, subsequent impacts from E2 and E3 creating damage. Protection through hardening critical elements of the natural gas transportatio and gas supply systems to key power plants that will be necessary for electrical system recovery is imperative.

2. Assure there are adequate communication assets dedicated or available to the electrical system operators so that damage during system collapse can be minimized; components requiring human intervention to bring them on-line are identified and located; critical manpower can be contacted and dispatched; fuel, spare parts and other commodities critical to the electrical system restoration can be allocated; and provide the ability to match generation to load and bring the system back on line.

3. Protect the use of emergency power supplies and fuel delivery, and importantly, provide for their sustained use as part of the protection of critical loads, which loads must be identified by government but can also be assured by private action. Specifically:

— Increase the battery and on-site generating capability for key substation and control facilities to extend the critical period allowing recovery. This is relatively low cost and will improve reliability as well as provide substantial protection against all forms of attack.

— Require key gasoline and diesel service stations and distribution facilities in geographic areas to have at-site generation, fueled off existing tanks, to assure fuel fo  transportation and other services, including refueling emergency generators in the immediate area.

— Require key fueling stations for the railroads to have standby generation, similar to that required for service stations and distribution facilities.

— Require the emergency generator start, operation, and interconnection mechanisms to be EMP hardened or manual. This will also require the ability to isolate these facilities from the main electrical power system during emergency generation operation and such isolation switching must be EMP hardened.

— Make the interconnection of diesel electric railroad engines and large ships possible and harden such capability, including the continued operation of the units.

— The Government must determine and specify immediately those strategically important electrical loads critical to the Nation to preserve in such an emergency.


4. Install substantially more black start generation (diezel generators) units coupled with specific transmission that can be readily isolated to balancing loads. Requiring all power plants above a certain significant size to have black start or fuel-switching capability (with site-stored fuel) would be a very small added expense that would provide major benefits against all disruptions including nonadversarial ones. Black start generator, operation, and interconnection mechanisms must be EMP hardened or be manual without microelectronic dependence. This also will require the ability to isolate these facilities from the main electrical power system during emergency generation operation and that isolation switching is EMP hardened. In addition, sufficient fuel must be provided, as necessary, to substantially expand the critical period for recovery.

5. Improve, extend, and exercise recovery capabilities. Develop procedures for addressing the impact of such attacks to identify weaknesses, provide training for personnel and develop EMP response training procedures and coordinate all activities and appropriate agencies and industry. While developing response plans, training and coordination are the primary purpose.

6. Do not decrease manpower resources in critical departments . The time required for full recovery of service would depend on both the damage to the electric power infrastructure and to other critical national infrastructures. Larger affected areas and stronger EMP field strengths will prolong the time to recover. Some critical electric power components are no longer manufactured, and their acquisition ordinarily requires up to a year of lead-time in routine circumstances. Damage to or loss of these components could leave significant parts of the electric power grid out of service for months to a year or more. There is a point at which the shortage or exhaustion of sustaining backup systems, including emergency power supplies, standby fuel supplies, communications, and manpower resources, leads to a continuing degradation of critical infrastructures for a prolonged period, with highly adverse consequences to our population and forces.
The ability to recover from an EMP attack is complicated by increasing sophistication and automation that has made manpower less necessary to running the critical national infrastructures. The use of automated control systems has allowed many companies and utilities to operate effectively with small work forces. Thus, while manual control of some systems may be possible, the number of people knowledgeable enough to support manual operations is limited. Repair of physical damage is also constrained by a small work force. Many maintenance crews are sized to perform routine and preventive maintenance of high-reliability equipment that is not expected to fail simultaneously over a widespread area. When repair or replacement is required that exceeds routine levels, arrangements are typically in place to augment crews from outside the affected area. However, due to the simultaneous, geographically widespread effects from EMP, many workers will be occupied in their own areas, and unavailable to help other areas. Thus, repairs normally requiring weeks of effort may require a much longer time.

7. Equip the relay protection systems with special cabinets and technologies, to install spare protection relays. The modern technologies (special cabinets, conductive inserts and greasing, filters, etc.), can significantly decrease the effect of external electromagnetic emission within the wide frequency range on high-sensitive apparatus, such as DPR. Today such cabinets are produced by following companies: R.F. Installations, Inc.; Universal Shielding Corp.; Eldon;  Equipto Electronics Corp.; European EMC Products Ltd;  Amco Engineering, and many others. It is obvious that the use of special technologies to protect DPR will lead to additional price increase of relay protection. But this is the price that one has to pay for machinery progress.

It is fair enough to say that in Russia that is actively developing devices for electronic equipment defeats, there are specialists in the area of power industry and relay protection that understand the high level of danger and have taken necessary measures. For example, one of the core centers of advanced computer (intellectual) technologies implementation in power industry of Russia, which was created on the base of Velikiy Ustyug electric networks «Vologdaenergy» and which comprises 35 substations, accepted a model, which initially presupposed not to take electromechanical protection devices to the dump, but instead to develop and create new panels of relay protection on the base of new electromechanical protection relays, which are deemed to activate in critical situations, when a whole set of computer equipment can be knocked out of action.

Besides, the intellectual system of automatic control itself is especially developed for this proving area of Russian power industry by the defense industry enterprises based on technologies applied in spaceships manufacturing. According to employees of this center, the reliability of their system far more exceeds that of microprocessor based systems manufactured by the leading relay manufacturing concerns of the world.

We think that such a policy and such approaches should be taken into consideration. This way we’ll manage to avoid new disasters and huge financial losses.

Establishing of the Special EMP Commission in the power, water and telephone companies with perticipation specialists in areas of generators, transformers, earthing, relay protection, communications, electronics must be a first step in realization the Special Goverment Program in protection of critical civilian  infrasctructures and specially a national power grid . These companies can to ask from Goverment a special budjet for realisation such program.