WASHINGTON – With the world focused on the latest Middle East flareup and the increasing prospect for a wider military conflict there, a little-noticed U.S. report has sounded new alarms over the vulnerability of the U.S. electric power-grid system to terrorist attacks, which could cause even more damage than natural disasters, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
The effect, according to the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, would be blackouts over large regions of the country for weeks and even months, costing billions of dollars to repair.
The NRC report warned that the power grid is “inherently vulnerable” physically given the distances it covers, an already overly stressed bulk high-voltage system that can result in multiple failures. In addition, most of the major facilities remain unguarded.
A potential scandal surrounding this report is that it actually was written in 2007 but ordered classified in its entirety by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. This means that DHS has known for at least five years of the various natural and manmade threats to the nation’s national grid system but has done virtually nothing to minimize potential damage.
The fact that it was released now strongly suggests that little has been done in the intervening years by DHS to mitigate the threats to the national grid system.
As WND/G2Bulletin recently reported, DHS has come under congressional fire for not giving EMP effects on the national grid system a high priority in disaster scenarios that would prompt action by DHS.
Failure to release the report for five years was briefly addressed in a forward to the report by Charles M. Vest, president of the National Academy of Engineering, who said that key findings of the report remain “highly relevant.”
“We regret the long delay in approving this report for public release,” Vest said.
“We understand the need to safeguard security information that may need to remain classified. But openness is also required to accelerate the progress with current technology and implementation of research and development of new technology to better protect the nation from terrorism and other threats.”
Release of this report comes on top of mounting concerns over the increasing prospects of intense natural and manmade electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, events that similarly could knock out large sections of the national grid system for months – and even years – potentially costing hundreds of billions of dollars affecting tens of millions of people.
Especially vulnerable to an EMP event and terrorist attacks are the high-voltage transformers. They are large, very difficult to move, are custom-built and take years to replace under normal circumstances. These transformers no longer are made in the United States.
Destruction of these transformers also can be done through terrorist cyber-attacks, either through Internet connections or by direct penetration at remote sites, since they rely on electronics, sensors and telecommunications which are linked to the outside and are not secure.
“Security of the U.S. electric power system is in urgent need of attention,” the report said.
“Power system disruptions experienced to date in the United States, be they from natural disasters or malfunctions, have had immense economic impacts,” said M. Granger Morgan of Carnegie Mellon University at Pittsburgh, who chaired the committee that wrote the report.
“Considering that a systematically designed and executed terrorist attack could cause disruptions even more widespread and of longer duration, it is no stretch of the imagination to think that such attacks could produce damage costing hundreds of billions of dollars,” he said.
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