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EPA won't disclose location of hazardous coal ash sites

The U.S. EPA has identified 44 coal ash waste impoundments across the country that pose a "high hazard" to the people living nearby, but Homeland Security and Army Corps of Engineers officials want the locations kept secret, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said during a Washington press conference. EPA officials have told Boxer, whose committee is investigating the safety of coal ash impoundments, the locations of the sites. But she has been forbidden to reveal the information to anyone other than other senators in affected areas and emergency response officials and representatives of the utilities involved. Boxer can´t even reveal the information to members of her own staff, she said. "We are losing what we cherish in America, the public´s right to know," Boxer said. She said residents of the communities involved have a right to know if a threat exists in their neighborhood. She is asking for further explanation from the Department of Homeland Security. Her committee began investigating coal ash impoundments after more than 1 billion gallons of coal combustion waste covered more than 300 acres near the Tennessee Valley Authority´s Kingston coal-fired power plant in December 2008. The EPA is moving to ensure the public is protected near the other 44 hazardous sites it has identified, Boxer said. Waste & Recycling News_ 6/12/09

New York, Dallas, San Francisco and Philadelphia get EPA water security grants

Every day, the Philadelphia Water Department sends 256 million gallons of treated drinking water through 3,000 miles of water mains. A $2 million grant announced yesterday will help further ensure its safety, city and federal officials said. The grant - which is actually $9.5 million, but depends on future budgets for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - will help fund improvements in a system to help detect and prevent a terrorist attack or other intentional contamination. The grant is part of an EPA water-security initiative that began in 2005 with a pilot program in Cincinnati. Now, the pilot is being expanded to four major cities - Philadelphia, San Francisco, Dallas and New York. Acting EPA regional administrator William Wisniewski said the new national program was a "progressive" step beyond the standards of the Safe Drinking Water Act. Philadelphia Inquirer_  2/24/09

EPA to test plans to protect drinking water from terrorists

Water utilities would get earlier warning of viruses, bacteria or chemicals that could be introduced into drinking water systems by terrorists under a test monitoring program set for expansion beyond the Greater Cincinnati Water Works. The $11million pilot program ordered by the Department of Homeland Security in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks uses continuous monitoring of public water for contaminants that could sicken or kill millions of people. Some utilities only do spot checks now for such germs, pesticides or radioactive materials. Once the pilot program is complete, the Environmental Protection Agency hopes to have a national water security model that utilities could adopt at their own expense. Recently, the EPA provided a $12 million grant to New York City to add that city's water system as a second pilot, and three other cities to be announced this year would get similar grants. AP_ 5/24/08

Chlorine, a key ingredient in terrorist bombs, is easy to buy, undercover New York police find

Undercover police investigators set up a fake company, bought chlorine online without providing identification and then watched as a truck delivered the chemical to a Brooklyn warehouse. It was an operation designed to demonstrate how easily a terrorist could acquire the ingredients for a deadly chemical strike against the city, police officials said on Wednesday. Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said the Police Department had been lobbying the federal Department of Homeland Security to draft stricter regulations requiring chlorine vendors to verify the legitimacy of their customers. In the video, a detective described how the department created a fake water purification company in June 2007, with a mailing address, a Web site and a false contract with the city to clean up a polluted creek in Brooklyn. AP/New York Times_ 2/14/08 (logon required)

AWWA to host industry Water Security Congress

Water utility professionals will gather with security experts, leading technology manufacturers, emergency responders and decision-makers April 6-8, 2008 in Cincinnati, Ohio, to discuss preparation and response plans for natural and human-caused hazards during the fifth Water Security Congress, hosted by the American Water Works Association (AWWA). Topics will include cyber security, risk communications, water quality monitoring, surveillance and recovery planning and the Safety Act. The exhibit will showcase the latest in locking devices, hydrant security, contamination detection technologies and more. AWWA launched the Water Security Congress in 2003 to address urgent security needs for water utilities after 9/11. News Release_ 1/24/08

Chlorine attacks in Iraq spur security warnings in U.S.

A spate of deadly chlorine bomb attacks in Iraq is prompting the Bush administration to urge nearly 3,000 municipal water treatment plants in the United States to make sure their chlorine gas is well protected -- spotlighting what Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has singled out as a "gap in our system of regulation." Although some plants have switched to less dangerous methods of disinfecting drinking and waste water, many still add chlorine gas to kill bacteria. The gas can also be used as a chemical weapon. In recent months, Iraqi insurgents have started attaching chlorine cylinders to car bombs and roadside explosives to burn people's lungs, eyes, and skin downwind from a blast. There are 1,700 U.S. drinking water facilities and 1,150 waste water plants that still use chlorine. Boston Globe_ 7/24/07

New Castle, Indiana well shut down after break-in classified as 'terrorist threat'

A New Castle water well was shut down Friday after it was discovered the locks on the enclosure gate and control box had been cut. Local investigators are treating the incident as a terrorist threat, since the source of the breach is unknown. Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has encouraged cities to treat any water well breaches as terrorist activity until the consequences of the breach can be confirmed. Tests performed throughout the week show no contamination in the well. News Link Indiana_ 9/7/06

Colorado State University tests system to safeguard drinking water

Civil Engineering Professor Ken Carlson and some CSU colleagues are testing an early-warning system - small sensors placed in various pipelines - to alert cities when a significant spike in toxins and pollutants is detected in water supplies. The system, so far, can detect corrosion in aging pipes and potentially dangerous chemicals from agricultural or industrial accidents. And if something is deliberately dumped into our drinking water, the alarm should work as well, Carlson said. CSU is partnering with ST-Infonox Inc., a California company that specializes in countering terrorist threats to air, water and food supplies, in developing on-site sensors. Denver Post_ 9/5/06

Sabbotage risk at U.S. water treatment plants seen down

Hundreds of U.S. chemical plants, companies and utilities have reduced their odds of being sabotaged and turned into deadly weapons by changing the chemicals they use or by moving, a think tank said on Tuesday. The liberal Center for American Progress found that 284 facilities took steps such as switching from using chlorine gas, ammonia and sulfur dioxide to less hazardous materials to process food or treat wastewater. Others removed their operations from dense population centers. The result, the center said, is that "at least 38 million people no longer live under the threat of a major toxic gas cloud from these facilities." A majority of the survey's respondents, 207, said they had switched from chlorine gas to liquid chlorine bleach to treat waste or drinking water, and another 42 had switched from the gas to ultraviolet light. Reuters_ 4/25/06

March, 2006

Officials: Water in Massachusetts possibly tainted in break-in

Residents of two towns were ordered to stop using water from their taps after someone broke into the area's supply facility and left behind a 5-gallon container that had an odor. Officials stressed that there was no evidence the water supply had been contaminated, but they ordered the halt to water use as a precaution while the container and water were being tested. The system serves nearly 9,000 residents in Blackstone and 83 homes in neighboring North Smithfield, R.I. Officials said someone cut barbed wire to enter the facility late Monday, then damaged an electrical panel and a vent at the top of a 1.3-million-gallon storage tank. The 5-gallon container was found on top of the storage tank, said Ed Coletta, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. He said officials didn't expect to have results from testing until Wednesday. AP/Minneapolis Star-Tribune_ 3/28/06

Computer Sciences Corp. wins $86 million contract to support EPA's Water Security division

The Environmental Protection Agency deal has one base year and four one-year options. As part of the agreement, El Segundo-based Computer Sciences will provide scientific, engineering, communications outreach, information technology and policy support services to the new security division, which was established to address water security issues in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Los Angeles Business Journal_ 8/27/05

SF mayor announces plans to enhance security of water system

San Francisco's mayor announced a partnership Thursday between the city and the National Parks Service to enhance security and environmental protection of the watershed that provides the Bay Area most of its water.  About 2.4 million customers in the San Francisco Bay area get their water through the 167-mile aqueduct, which extends from Yosemite National Park to San Francisco.  Mayor Gavin Newsom discussed a five-year, $15 million plan for the watershed that includes maintenance of trails and camping areas, as well as security improvements within the park.  Newsom's announcement came shortly after a recent city audit that criticized the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission for failing to protect the aqueduct from terrorism, vandalism and theft. The Mercury News_8/18/05 log on required

New Jersey tests reverse 911 system to warn residents of drinking water problems

A recording from the State Police rang 103 land-line telephones to caution residents about a minor contamination problem in Burlington County. It marked the second time the reverse 911 system had been tried in the state, the first time in West Orange for a similar warning some months ago. The alert also told officials which numbers didn't pick up to hear the warning so officials knew where to knock on doors. Asbury Park Press_ 2/15/05

January, 2005

EPA watchdog finds security lapses in SCADA remote controls for water systems

The lapses leave valves, pumps and chemical mixers for water supplies vulnerable to cyber-attack, according to an Environmental Protection Agency report. The EPA's inspector general cited costs, lack of ability to check employees' backgrounds and poor communication between technical engineers and management for the shortcomings. Benjamin Grumbles, EPA's water chief, said he agrees with the report's assessment that there are "a broad range of challenges" facing water utilities, particularly with wireless communications systems, but that his office now has a plan for making improvements. His office also is getting help, he said, from the Homeland Security Department on ways of dealing with cyber threats and from an advisory council on how to help utilities measure their improvement. The computer-based controls were "developed with little attention paid to security, making the security of these systems often weak," the report says. As a result, many of the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition networks used by water agencies to collect data from sensors and control equipment such as pumps and valves "may be susceptible to attacks and misuse." AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 1/10/05

December, 2004

Sandia National Laboratories' 'Star Trek' device tests drinking water to foil terrorists

If terrorists dump viruses, bacteria or bio-warfare toxins into public water supplies, the deadly agents can be detected within seconds or minutes by the portable, cardinal-colored gadget, which is roughly the size and shape of a pre-cellular-age tabletop phone. Once perfected, the three-pound, battery-powered "Micro Chem Lab" will "increase the safety of our nation's water supply" during the terrorist era, Sandia Vice President Mim John told a news conference. San Francisco Chronicle_ 12/7/04

November, 2004

Cyber crime tools could serve terrorists targeting water, power, transportation - FBI

The hacking and identity theft tools now earning big money for mainly eastern European organized crime could be used by terrorists to attack the United States, an FBI official said. FBI Deputy Assistant Director Steve Martinez said cyber crime was no longer the domain of teenage geeks but had been taken over by sophisticated gangs. The Internet could allow attackers to remain anonymous, to strike at multiple targets from a distance, and escape detection. Critical infrastructure such as water, power and transportation systems remained vulnerable, Martinez said. Reuters_ 11/10/04

October, 2004

Utah researchers develop quick system to monitor public water supplies for microbial contamination

The system could respond to earthquakes that introduce natural contaminates or tampering of drinking water supplies. Operating as a consortium called WaterWorks LLC, four companies began a round of tests funded with a $40,000 state grant relayed from federal aid for terrorism prevention. The optical detection technology can reveal deadly viruses, bacteria or spores by fluorescent illumination. Computer software could transmit that data by wireless telecommunication to a remote computer or a central government clearinghouse, said Walter R. Ellis Jr., a program manager at the Utah State University Research Foundation. Ellis and seven other engineers and scientists plan to detail the process in the January/February issue of ''IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology'' magazine. AP/Casper Star Tribune_ 10/30/04

President Bush signs 2005 Homeland Security Appropriations Act, which includes funds for water treatment plants

Press Release_ 10/18/04

August, 2004

Report says Los Angeles reservoirs, electricity plants vulnerable terror attacks
The Department of Water and Power has not done enough to screen, train and manage guards, according to security workers interviewed for an internal report. Keys to sensitive facilities were carelessly handed out to contractors, and guards had to patrol remote sites alone with radios that couldn't reach distant security staff, employees told a researcher hired to assess workplace conditions. The report was obtained by the Los Angeles Times. Henry Martinez, acting general manager of the DWP, said he takes the findings seriously and was reviewing whether there were security lapses as bad as those described in the report. The consultants interviewed 400 DWP employees. Los Angeles Times/AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 8/12/04

Drinking supply: Terrorists had eyes on U.S. water

Government officials have not found evidence that operatives were dispatched to the United States after the 2001 attacks to carry out such a plot, a federal bulletin states, and no imminent, credible threat has been detected. But recent government intelligence suggests terrorists discussed recruiting employees of water treatment facilities to poison drinking supplies in hopes of causing mass casualties, according to the bulletin obtained by the Review-Journal. Las Vegas Review-Journal_ 8/12/04

Water bottles slip by Boston convention security

All containers, including cans, bottles and aerosat sprays, are not supposed to be allowed through security checkpoints, but some screeners have let water bottles through after asking the owner to take a sip from it. The U.S. Secret Service, which is overseeing convention security, is looking into the situation. Said spokesperson Lori Lewis, "There's no way of determining what the substance in those containers really is." Reuters_ 7/29/04

Illinois-American Water Co. apparently reconsiders shutting city officials out of the loop on security of Peoria's water system
City officials were concerned when Illinois-American withdrew its constant armed-guard protection in favor of electronic surveillance, especially since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. But the water company is now negotiating to allow trained city personnel to review its security. Peoria Journal Star_ 7/1/04

June, 2004
Louisville, Kentucky looks for water disinfectant alternatives to risky tanker or rail car loads of chlorine
A worst-case accident at the Louisville water treatment plant could send out chemical vapors harmful to residents for almost 10 miles in any direction, depending on the wind. Company officials have counted 660,000 people living within that area in Louisville and Southern Indiana. Officials are evaluating alternatives such as bleach, ozone and ultraviolet radiation. Louisville Courier-Journal_ 6/10/04

New York City spends about $100 million on reservoir security
The funds were used to surround reservoirs with non-climbable chain-link fencing; install infrared sensors and cameras; acquire water-testing technology; and to double the ranks of the Dept. of Environmental Police. The city also spends about $792,000 a year leasing a helicopter to patrol the reservoirs. The DEP recently purchased high-speed boats for surveillance by a new scuba unit. New vehicles and computers were purchased, and a canine unit was formed. New York Post_ 5/22/04

Sentry fish give their all at Fort Detrick, Maryland water monitoring station
Someone apparently dumped a chemical solvent into the Monocacy River, killing the eight captive blue gills at the heart of the monitoring system. Their deaths triggered an alert that prompted the city of Frederick to shut down its water treatment plant Tuesday for 48 hours. The chemical, ethyl acetate, was not found in the treated water that people drink, officials said. It was the first time the sentinel fish had died since they were deployed in October 2001 to help safeguard drinking water at Fort Detrick and its biological weapons defense laboratory. InsideBaltimore.com_ 5/21/04

Underwater robots could be answer to terrorist threat to nation's water supplies
Technology pioneered at the University of Minnesota could cut the time it takes to test water samples, instead using robots to beam up a near-real-time environmental profile of lakes, reservoirs and rivers. AP/WALB.com_ 5/12/04

AWWA highlights national security protections for the water supply during National Drinking Water Week

Press Release_ 5/7/04

Biowhirlwind: New technology to kill diseases in water

Bioantigen, of Port Talbot, Wales, and its German partners developed the new bug-busting device which could help combat bio-terrorism. Its makers say it has attracted interest from the British Ministry of Defence as well as leading scientists from around the world. BBC News_ 5/4/04

April, 2004

Minnesota reports on city water systems' safety from terrorist attack due June 30
Under federal rules enacted in 2002, public water systems that serve at least 3,300 customers must conduct vulnerability assessments. AP/Pioneer Press_ 4/11/04

U.S. Defense Department awards Argonide Corp. an Army grant for a portable water purification system to remove chemical & biological agents
The system’s filter will use proprietary electropositive fibers that are about the size of a DNA molecule. The DoD Chemical and Biological Defense (CBD) SBIR Program is part of a major effort to ensure safe and acceptable drinking water for military personnel. Press Release_ 4/6/04

March, 2004

EPA: Association of Metropolitan Water Agency awarded $2 million to enhance water security
The grant will help support the on-going efforts of Water Information Sharing and Analysis Center (WaterISAC), a state-of- the-art, secure information system that shares up-to-date threat and incident information between the intelligence community and the water sector. Press Release 3/29/04_

Department of Homeland Security to continue utility site visits
A directive issued in December gives DHS and other federal agencies the responsibility to identify and set priorities for protecting critical infrastructure and key resources. The new bulletin clarifies how DHS teams will coordinate their visits with USEPA and targeted utilities as well as with state homeland security and drinking water officials.Water Week/AWWA 3/17/04

February, 2004

National security for water systems reduces priorities for other projects, federal official says. Speech comes as battling Central California agriculture interests sign peace agreement. Fresno Bee 2/19/04

Al Qaeda threat increases water rates in Muncie, Indiana. Star Press 2/18/04

January 2004

AWWA creates new drinking water security systems.   Also provides guidance for upgrading existing systems. Press Release 1/27/04

Chicago suburb beefs up water security and makes plans to keep water flowing if there is another severe blackout. Daily Herald


December, 2003

EPA releases an extensive package of interim guidance documents to help water utilities plan and respond to intentional acts of contamination.  AWWA WaterWeek 12/29/03

Rochester, New York to enforce 2001 ban on photos of reservoirs. Democrat & Chronicle 12/22/03

Pennsylvania Judge rejects post 9-11 security costs as part of water rate increase.  AP/Miami Herald 12/3/03

General Accounting Office Drinking Water PDFs: Experts' views on how future federal funding can best be spent to improve security. Full report and highlights. GAO 12/3/03

November 2003

Feature: U.S. military tries to win over Kenyan Muslims one mended drain at a time.  AP Enterprise/San Francisco Chronicle 11/21/03

Security projects require the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to boost rates for the average user by $4.15 per month. Critics point to high department salaries and other spending as reasons to stop the rate increase.  Los Angeles Times 11/18/03

Spot check of nation's water plants by "60 Minutes" and Pittsburgh newspaper find lax security.  Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 11/17/03

October 2003

News Analysis: U.S. water supply vulnerable.  MSNBC 10/21/03

Tampa, Florida water system security plans, maps stolen. Officials reassure town on security.  Tampa Tribune 10/15/03

More than 40 southern California water agencies find ways to increase security. Vandalism and earthquake threats replaced by terrorism.  Press-Enterprise 10/14/03

Cover Portland, Oregon water reservoirs for safety. Only about 50 similar storage ponds remain in the U.S.  Oregonian 10/9/03

AWWA receives $1 million in federal funds for drinking water security training. News release

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