RBR-TVBR heard an engineer in a large market had mentioned Homeland Security came to their tower site and put up a building, designed as a Faraday Cage. They put in a 5-kW transmitter, a generator, etc., but they never told the CE what they were going to do with it or how they were going to modulate it. Then they left, but they did tell him they were going to put these in all over the U.S.
We spoke to a group engineer on this who mentioned it is likely part of an ongoing project from FEMA, which looks to keep stations on the air with generators in time of crisis. There were recent FEMA-PEPAC (Primary Entry Point Advisory Council) meetings going on in DC regarding the program 2/24-2/27.
We assume the Faraday Cage building protects the new gear and would allow the stations to transmit after an EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) attack or severe solar flare-ups (news reports say next year could be a big year). The group engineer confirmed: “FEMA is installing these at all of the Primary Entry Point (PEP) sites.”
Massive solar flares can disrupt power grids, interfere with airline and military communications, disrupt GPS signals and interrupt broadcast communications, including satellites.
Over 50 stations are currently designated as National Primary Stations in the PEP system to distribute Presidential messages to other broadcast stations and cable systems. PEP stations are private and commercial radio broadcast stations that cooperatively participate with FEMA to provide emergency alert and warning information to the public prior to, during, and after incidents and disasters. The Emergency Action Notification is the notice to broadcasters that the President or his designee will deliver a message over the EAS via the PEP system.
RBR-TVBR asked FEMA to provide any additional detail. Brad Carroll, FEMA spokesman, tells RBR-TVBR: “When it comes to emergency management and national preparedness, FEMA is not the team, FEMA is only part of the team. That team includes federal partners, state, tribal and local officials, the private sector, non-profits and faith-based groups, and most importantly, the general public. FEMA is in the process of expanding the number of private and commercial radio broadcast stations cooperatively participating with the agency to provide emergency alert and warning information to the public before, during, and after incidents and disasters.”
FEMA officials tell us they will expand the number of participating broadcast stations in the Primary Entry Point Station Expansion project. It is the goal of the PEP Station Expansion Project to eventually include and maintain over 80 PEP stations throughout the US and its territories (U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, US Mariana Islands). FEMA contracted with the US Army Corps of Engineers to begin equipping additional radio stations to become FEMA PEP stations.
Direct coverage of the nation’s population will expand from 67% in 2009 to over 90% when these additional stations become operational.
FEMA, in cooperation with station licensees and operators of communication facilities, will maintain capabilities necessary for the national public alert and warning system.
“These are secured buildings and the transmitter is not connected to the antenna. So it is sitting there in this shielded building and protected from EMP. They are not going to allow EMP to destroy the transmitter,” commented the group engineer. “They put up these little compounds on the property, and I’ll admit, they didn’t say what they are going to do with the transmitter. I thought maybe it was a third backup for my transmitters. It is a Nautel AM transmitter, I think they are all Nautel 5s. It can transmit in analog, digital, HD-Radio hybrid or something else.”
He adds, “There are some things they are not disclosing, like which stations they are doing, but it will be obvious. They are putting in their own generators and huge tanks for gasoline (we had heard thousands of gallons). That little 5 could probably go for months on that.”
They likely cannot connect the new transmitters because a solar flare or EMP would make the TX toast if it were connected. “The breakers are pulled and there is currently no electricity going to them,” the group engineer tells us. There are couplers installed that could fairly quickly connect to the transmitter. Local emergency officials could easily plug in as well to the small radio studio inside to transmit official info.
RBR-TVBR observation: We can’t argue against putting safeguards in place when it comes to keeping the public informed. If a solar flare disrupts the power grid and causes widespread damage to electronic circuits such as those in transmitters, whatever is “connected” could be rendered useless. We think FEMA is doing the right thing here, not just in the case of a potential EMP blast, but also if upcoming solar flares are anything close to what happened in the 1859 solar superstorm, dubbed “The Carrington Event.” Telegraph wires in both the US and Europe experienced “induced emf,” in some cases shocking telegraph operators and causing fires. Even with a few days’ notice of incoming flares, shutting down the entire power grid may be more difficult than some may think and might not actually work to prevent damage.