The Bell Island Explosion 1978 - EMP weapons? [NL History]

This is one piece of Newfoundland History which is a little more unusual then the rest. The story of the Bell Island Explosion has always facinated me, so I thought I’d share it with everyone here on the bubble.


Bell island

From Wikipedia:
On April 2, 1978, there was a loud explosion on Bell Island that caused damage to some houses and the electrical wires in the surrounding area. Two cup-shaped holes about two feet deep and three feet wide marked the major impact. A number of TV sets in Lance Cove, the surrounding community, also exploded at the time of the blast. Weather men confirmed that atmospheric conditions at the time were not conducive to lightning. The blast was heard 45 kilometers away in Cape Broyle. Apparently U.S. Vela satellites picked up the event. The incident was investigated promptly by two representatives from a U.S. weapons laboratory at Los Alamos, according to the news media.(1)

It has been speculated that the explosion was ball lightning. However, a recent documentary aired on The History Channel about electromagnetic pulse weapons speculated that it may have been a result of top secret experiments by either the Russian or U.S. governments, involving high energy beams focused into the ionosphere that where attracted by the iron in abandoned mines.

From The History Channel:
On a calm Sunday morning in 1978, residents of Bell Island, Newfoundland hear an odd, high-pitched hum, immediately followed by a sudden and terrifying blast resounding for hundreds of miles. Witnesses observe a “straight shaft of light” descending from the sky, and a barrage of violent electrical phenomenon. Outbuildings are destroyed, livestock electrocuted, televisions explode and power lines vaporize. Observed from space, the light emissions from the “boom” are more powerful than those of the Hiroshima blast.

The Invisible Machine unravels the mystery of the Bell Island “boom” and in doing so takes a chilling look at the U.S. military’s experimentation with electromagnetic pulse (EMP) weapons,“e-bombs”, directed energy weapons that can destroy electrical and communications systems but leave people seemingly unharmed. We interview eye witnesses, an EMP weapons designer, scientists, journalists, policy makers and activists who warn that these weapons are real and may have been used by the US military during its “shock and awe” campaign against Iraq in 2003.

While the United States continues to develop and experiment with these weapons of mass destruction, the questions remain: were the bizarre events on Bell Island in 1978 related to early testing gone wrong and were directed EMP weapons at Baghdad’s electricity generation plant the most recent experiment? If so, what are the consequences of unleashing this powerful force? The Invisible Machine pulls back the veils of secrecy to find the answers.


Photo by Kevin Kroeker

Journal Comments

  • Dan Cahill