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Great Lakes Article:

Tribe asks for review of Project ELF

Article Courtesy of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal
Sept. 10, 2001

Ashland - An American Indian tribe is asking the U.S. Navy to study whether a military communications system has caused health and environmental problems, but the Navy called such a study unnecessary.

The Lac Courte Oreilles Chippewa band of northwestern Wisconsin wants to know whether electromagnetic fields from the Navy's Project ELF, an extremely-low-frequency antenna system, are having any detrimental effect on the area.

The Navy uses the system near Clam Lake and one like it in Michigan's Upper Peninsula to communicate with submarines around the world.

The tribe will explain why it wants the study at five public meetings in September and October, when it hopes to garner support for its request. The Navy said it hasn't decided whether to send a representative to those meetings.

Scientists found no detrimental effects from the system's electromagnetic fields in previous studies of the Clam Lake site, but the tribe is asking for more information.

The tribe believes studies costing at least $3 million are needed to make sure the U.S. Department of Defense is not violating the treaty rights of Chippewa tribes in Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota, said Dan Peterson, coordinator of the Lac Courte Oreilles Department of Defense Mitigation Project.

The tribe believes Project ELF could pose health and safety dangers to all northwestern Wisconsin residents, Peterson said.

The tribe wants the Navy to study the incidence of cancer among people in four counties around the site and to look at any stray current in the area.

Five Great Lakes-area universities conducted Navy-sponsored studies costing $25 million between 1969 and 1993 and found no major effects from the ELF system. Further testing would be a waste of money, Navy spokesman Richard Williamson said.

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