Click for next page ( 12

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement

Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 11
Chapter 1 Introduction The United States' water supplies are considered among the safest in the world because of unparalleled accomplishments with regard to water supply, treatment, and distribution. Over the last century, cities, states, the federal government, and private organizations have made substantial investments to provide safe and adequate supplies of water for use in homes, industry, agriculture, and more recently the environment. Advances in water treatment technologies have led to vast improvements in public health, virtually eliminating the most deadly waterborne diseases, including cholera and typhoid. The sad events of September 1 1, 2001, however, have heightened concerns regarding the vuInerabilities of critical infrastructures, including the nation's water systems, to deliberate attack. There have been several documented plots against water supplies around the world: information regarding U.S. water supply systems has been found at terrorist sites overseas, and in 2002, Italian police intercepted a plan to inject cyanicle into Rome's water supply system, which may have been targeted toward the U.S. Embassy (McGrory, 2002~. The consequences of a terrorist attack on the water supply to public health, national security, and the nation's economic services could be significant. The country has learned from experience that it is not invulnerable to global or domestic terrorism, and efforts are currently underway to increase the security of the nation's water systems. ROLE OF THE EPA IN HOMELAND SECURITY FOR WATER SYSTEMS The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) currently bears lead responsibilities for protecting water systems from attack (Office of Homeland Security, 2002), and they are working in partnership with the Department of Homeland Security, other federal, state, and local government agencies, water and wastewater utilities, and professional associations to ensure safe water supplies. The EPA's primarily role in water security is to serve as a resource by advancing water security research and technology and providing technical support for utilities and local and state agencies. The EPA held national- 11

OCR for page 11
12 A Review of the EPA Water Security Action Plan security-related responsibilities well before September 11 , 200 1 , including their responsibility to "develop plans to ensure the availability of potable water after a national security incident" (Reagan, 1988~. In 1995, the United States Policy on Counterterrorism required all federal agencies to plan for terrorist attacks and designated the EPA to provide environmental response support. In 1998, President Clinton identified water as one of the nation's critical infrastructures, and the EPA was assigned lead responsibility for protecting water from intentional attacks (Clinton, 1998~. In response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, several initiatives were introduced to strengthen water security. The EPA created the National Homeland Security Research Center within the Office of Research and Development, whose mission includes developing the scientific foundations and tools that can be used to respond to attacks on water systems. The EPA formed the Water Protection Task Force within the Office of Water to help the water sector assess their vulnerabilities, improve their security, utilize research findings and technology advancements, and respond effectively to possible terrorist attacks. In 2002, Congress passed the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act (Public Law No. 107-188), commonly referred to as the Bioterrorism Act, which mandated improvements in water security and created specific requirements and deadlines for both the EPA and water utilities. As part of the Bioterrorism Act, all water utilities serving over 3,300 people (representing approximately 90 percent of the population served by public water supplies) are required to complete a vulnerability assessment and prepare an emergency response plan that focuses on deliberate attacks upon water systems The largest utilities completed these assessments in March 2003, and they are required to submit emergency response plans by September 2003. The act requires the EPA to complete an assessment of baseline threats for community water systems and to develop security guidance for water systems serving less than 3,300 people. Among its many responsibilities, the EPA was also directed to review methods by which water systems could be deliberately disrupted or rendered unsafe and review "current and future methods to prevent, detect and respond to the intentional introduction of chemical, biological or radiological contaminants into community water systems and source water for community water systems" (Bioterrorism Act, 2002~. The EPA detailed its expanded security role in the Strategic Plan for Homeland Security (EPA, 2002~. In order to plan for meeting the EPA's water security responsibilities, the Water Protection Task Force and the National Homeland Security Research Center recently collaborated to develop the Water Security Research and Technical Support Action Plan (Action Plan) (EPA, 20034. This document is intended to identify critical security issues for drinking water and wastewater, outline research and technical support needs within these issues, and present a prioritized list of research and technical support projects to address these needs. The document also presents a time line for implementing the identified projects. The Action Plan was developed with input from representatives of the water industry, federal agencies, and other water stakeholders, including public health organizations and emergency response organizations. The EPA invited input at two meetings (the Water Security Partners Meeting in November 2002 and the Water Security Stakeholders Meeting in February 2003) and revised the Action Plan based on stakeholder suggestions. The Action Plan will be used to determine EPA funding priorities for water security research and technical support efforts over the next three in. . . . .. . . . years.

OCR for page 11
Introduction ROLE OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY IN COUNTERING TERRORISM 13 In many ways, scientific advancements have enabled terrorists today to use information and technology toward a catastrophic potential, but science and technology also represent tools to help prevent, protect from, and mitigate such threats. Technological advances have much to offer in new sensing, surveillance, and protection strategies, but these technologies may also bring costs that society is not willing to bear. As noted in the National Research Council (NRC) report Making the Nation Safer (NRC, 2002) "the role of technology can be overstated," and terrorism prevention wild depend heavily upon diplomacy, international relations, intelligence gathering, and international policy. Nonetheless, a well-reasoned science and technology program will be a vital component of strategies for countering terrorism. The objectives are to develop technical means to reduce the nation's vulnerabilities and develop appropriate levels of preparedness to respond to future attacks. No amount of investment can eliminate all vulnerabilities to terrorist attacks, but effective application of current knowledge and future research advances in science and technology can reduce the likelihood of a terrorist attack and the severity of its consequences. GENESIS OF THIS STUDY AND CHARGE TO THE PANEL The EPA approached the National Academies in the fall of 2002 seeking expert scientific advice on its homeland security efforts in the areas of water security, building decontamination, and rapid risk assessment. Subsequently, the Academies' NRC undertook a study that would assess the EPA's efforts to advance the state of knowledge related to threat detection, mitigation, and decontamination and to develop information and technologies for use in preventing and mitigating the effects of chemical and biological attacks. To carry out this study, the NRC appointed two expert panels, which will focus on the topics of water system security and building decontamination. The NRC panels will provide consultations to the EPA on a continuing basis on specific aspects of the program as requested and provide several short reports. This report summarizes the early findings of the Panel on Water System Security Research, which is overseen by the NRC's Water Science and Technology Board. The first task for the Panel on Water System Security Research was a review of the EPA Water Security Research and Technical Support Action Plan. This report summarizes the findings of the first phase of this review and focuses specifically on the panel's Statement of Task questions #1 and 4 listed in bold below: 1. Has the Action Plan completely and accurately identified important issues and needs in the water security arena? If not, what issues and needs should be added or removed? Are the needs appropriately sequenced within the issues? If not, what adjustments are warranted and why? 3. Are the projects recommended for funding in the Action Plan appropriate to meet the water security needs? Are the projects correctly prioritized and sequenced? ~ The National Academies consists of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council is the advisory arm of the National Academies.

OCR for page 11
14 A Review of the EPA Water Security Action Plan Is the timing of the projects, as identified in the Action Plan appendix, realistic? If not, what adjustments are warranted and why? 4. Overall, what changes to the Action Plan are recommended to improve its presentation in terms of content and structure so as to more clearly convey the water security research and technical support program that is described? A subsequent report will address task questions #2 and 3 (see Part II); thus, individual research and technical support projects and funding priorities will not be evaluated in this first report. The study schedule was condensed in order to provide timely advice to the EPA for identifying and prioritizing its research investments. The panel met once in May 2003 and subsequently collaborated remotely to develop this report. At the meeting, ongoing EPA homeland security efforts and the broader context for the study were discussed, and EPA personnel described the background and development process for the Action Plan. There was also discussion of the research needs identified in the Action Plan. The panel's conclusions and recommendations are based on a review of the Action Plan document, presentations and discussions from the meeting, the experience and knowledge of the authors in their fields of expertise, and the collective best professional judgment of the panel.