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China Builds Massive Radio Antenna 5 Times Bigger Than NYC

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China’s Wireless Electromagnetic Method project has been in progress for 13 years to make communication with submarines underwater possible. However, researchers expressed concern about exposure to extremely low frequency (ELF) waves.  ( US Navy | Wikimedia Commons )

Researchers that are part of the controversial project reveal that the massive radio antenna facility is built on land five times the size of New York City.

China has worked on ELF technology for several years, which is now established on a 3,700 square kilometer land. WEM project consists of high voltage power supply lines capable of producing electromagnetic radiation that can travel thousands of miles through the air on Earth's surface.

WHO Concerned About Impact On Public Health

According to The International Agency for Research on Cancer, a segment of the World Health Organization, ELF waves are potentially carcinogenic to human beings.

Numerous studies conducted by scientists across the world have linked the prolonged exposure to ELF with an increased risk of leukemia in children. The WHO report has also highlighted that ELF radiation can lead to other conditions such as sleep deprivation, stress, depression, miscarriages, brain and breast tumors, and more.

"The money came from civilian budgets, but the military has intervened and muted the ministry's complaint," said a Beijing-based researcher, who does not wish to be named due to sensitive nature of the matter.

Although the study findings are inconclusive, WHO said that it is important to take reasonable precautionary measures to reduce the radiation exposure.

However, Qiao Fengshou, a researcher at Ship Communication Research Institute in Wuhan, dispelled the concerns explaining that there is nothing to worry. Fengshou added that as per China's safety guidelines, only radiation more than 300 watts is considered to be dangerous.

"The project will cause no harm to staff and residents in surrounding areas, it is not necessary to build extra facilities for the purpose of health protection", Qiao wrote in an article published in the research journal Ship Science and Technology in 2016.

China Enters The Race With US, Russia

The first low-frequency transmission military grade station was built in 2009. Scientists explained that the transmission could be detected by the submarine hundreds of feet below the sea without the need to resurface. According to Newser, this makes China the third country to develop this form of submarine communication system.

Even though the project was meant for earthquake and mineral detection, it is also designed to play an important role in military communication.

"This facility will have important military uses if a war breaks out ... Though I am involved in the project, I have no idea where it is. It should be up and running by now," said Chen Xiaobin, a researcher with the Institute of Geology, China Earthquake Administration.

Despite the fact that he is working on this project, Chen said he does not know the exact site location as the information required the highest level of security clearance. He refused to comment on the facility's impact on residents' health.

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