Report of U.S.-Russian Working Group on Energy Vulnerabilities
Aleksandr Yu. Kudrin, Edward V. Badolato, Sergey G. Vasin, Benjamin S. Cooper, Glenn E. Schweitzer
On January 27-28, 2005, the National Academies-Russian Academy of Sciences Working Group on Energy Vulnerabilities met in Washington, D.C., to discuss energy systems vulnerabilities in conjunction with terrorist attacks.
PRESENTATIONS TO THE WORKING GROUP
The working group met with representatives of the U.S. Department of Energy, the Board on Energy and Environmental Systems of the National Research Council, the American Petroleum Institute, and the Edison Electric Institute.
The discussion with the U.S. Department of Energy considered the events that triggered the northeast power blackout of 2003, which affected 50 million consumers of electricity in the United States, and the actions that have been taken to reduce the likelihood of future power blackouts. Four factors contributed to the blackout: (1) inadequate understanding among the operating organizations of the overall system, a shortcoming that was responsible for a lack of appropriate voltage criteria and a lack of effective remedial measures for contingencies; (2) inadequate situational awareness among operators who did not realize that system conditions were degrading; (3) inadequate tree trimming under transmission lines that led to the first three line failures; and (4) inadequate diagnostic support that failed to detect growing overloads.
The relevance of this incident, and particularly the ripple effects, to a terrorist attack on power systems is significant. While there are many vulnerabilities in power systems, precautions that should be taken to minimize damage from an attack by terrorists are quite analogous to precautions taken to prevent outages from hurricanes and other natural disasters. There is a special concern that ter-
rorist attacks on power systems might be coupled with other types of terrorist attacks, particularly in large cities. Finally, vulnerabilities of control systems to cyber- and physical attacks need special attention.
The Board on Energy and Environmental Systems of the Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences of the National Research Council also provided briefings on relevant activities and studies. Three overriding concerns regarding terrorist attacks on energy-related systems are (1) electrical systems, especially transmission network substations; (2) petroleum refineries, which if attacked could threaten nearby residents although the overall impact would be less than an attack on an electrical system; and (3) gas pipelines, which if attacked could also threaten nearby residents, but again would have less impact than disrupted electrical systems. Among the approaches to protect electrical systems are physical barriers around critical components, modular extra-high-voltage transformers, improved surveillance technologies, and adaptive electrical grids that limit cascading failures. Relevant studies currently under way address the safety and security of commercial spent nuclear fuel storage and enhanced resilience of electric transmission networks. A study of safety at liquefied natural gas facilities may soon be launched.
The discussion with the American Petroleum Institute centered on security vulnerability assessment methodology for the petroleum and petrochemical industries. The assets of concern include 4,200 offshore oil platforms, 100 U.S. ports, 148 refineries, 160,000 miles of liquid pipelines, 35,000 gasoline tanker trucks, 7,500 bulk storage plants, and 170,000 service stations. Important concepts include definition and prioritization of risks, types of direct and indirect consequences of an attack, attractiveness to terrorists of different assets, threat scenarios involving groups with different motivations, and vulnerabilities in protection of different types of assets. The methodology should give considerable attention to countermeasures that can be employed, including consideration of cost and vulnerability tradeoffs. Various sources of data were discussed, and the relevance of previous experiences in countering all types of threats was emphasized. Finally, the types of personnel injuries, economic losses, and environmental damage that must be anticipated were highlighted. The importance of individual companies working with local law enforcement officials is obviously of utmost importance given the wide variation in facility types and locations.
The emphasis during the discussion with the Edison Electric Institute was on the working relationships between the private sector and the government (both federal government organizations and local agencies). Industry includes federal utilities, investor-owned utilities, municipal and state utilities, and rural electric cooperatives. The North American Electric Reliability Council provides an important umbrella organization for addressing standards and methodologies for countering threats of terrorism. At the same time, the U.S. Congress is concerned about insurance coverage, regulations and mandatory standards, and frequency allocations. The U.S. Department
of Homeland Security interacts with the private sector in many ways, including sharing data, conducting emergency exercises, and promoting interoperability. Other government agencies also have continuing interactions with the private sector in the energy field, and particularly the U.S. Department of Energy and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
In addition to discussions with outside organizations, the members of the working group themselves described the activities in which they are directly involved. The presentations of the working group members addressed pipeline security planning; protection of critical physical infrastructure, particularly key facilities, on a broad scale; development of standards and regulations at the national level; and practical challenges in preventing terrorist incidents in a large city, with special attention to the challenges of monitoring activities involving vehicular traffic.
In summary, the working group considered a broad range of issues in the energy sector. As suggested above, emphasis was given to protection of functional infrastructures, particularly pipelines, petroleum assets, and power generation and distribution; crosscutting concerns, including threats, vulnerabilities, preparedness, and determination of risk; and practical experience in applications of technologies and in dealing with government structures. Nuclear energy was given only minimal attention in view of the many unique challenges and experiences encountered in this sector. Finally, while relevant U.S. research and development efforts were considered, discussion of Russian research and development activities was left to other groups with more expertise in the area.
TOPICS FOR FURTHER CONSIDERATION
The working group highlighted three topics that deserve more detailed consideration, within national and international contexts. These topics are of great importance in the United States and Russia, and improved understanding of recent developments should be of mutual interest to specialists from both countries.
First, vulnerability assessments are playing a large role in developing plans to reduce damage from terrorist attacks. However, there are shortcomings in attempting to develop generic vulnerability assessments, or even assessment methodologies, given the wide variations in types of terrorist scenarios and types of facilities at risk. The breadth of application of specific types of vulnerability assessments deserves detailed consideration. Also, development of approaches in adapting generic assessment frameworks to specific problems is important, and this topic should be further pursued.
Second, the role of government is central to all efforts to counter the threat of terrorism. Many of the most worrisome scenarios cut across the responsibilities of individual government agencies, and coordination is of high priority. Also, as previously discussed, clarification of the respective roles of government
and the private sector is important, and the integration of efforts needs continuing attention. While the histories of governmental control and the current configurations of the private sector vary considerably when considering the United States and Russia, improved understanding of the role of government in each country is critical if effective cooperative efforts are to be undertaken.
Finally, the emergency response systems in Russia and the United States are of critical importance in limiting damage from terrorist attacks. In many respects these systems should be multipurpose and capable of responding to all types of emergencies. However, there are unique problems posed by terrorist attacks, including the possibility of multiple attacks at one target or at dispersed targets and the design of attacks to cause fear as well as death and physical damage. The accumulation of experience around the world in responding to attacks can be valuable to all governments.
NEAR-TERM STEPS FOR BILATERAL COOPERATION
Several of the many topics that might be considered in developing cooperative programs were singled out for special attention, for example:
Reciprocal observation of and participation in simulations of terrorist attacks. Simulations have been held and are being planned in both countries. Opportunities to participate in such exercises would be an excellent way to share experiences in the practical aspects of coping with terrorism.
Joint development of methodologies and standards for vulnerability assessments, priority ranking of critical facilities, and assessments of adequacy of protection. Each of these topics is at the heart of efforts to counter terrorist attacks in urban areas. In-depth cooperation focused on any one of the topics should uncover lessons learned of mutual interest.
Cooperation in the development of sensors and other technical means for monitoring facilities and transportation. Both countries have strong technical capabilities of direct relevance to counterterrorism efforts, particularly in the field of sensors. A review of selected arrays of sensors that each country has developed but that are not excessively sensitive and the operating experience using these sensors would be a good first step in developing cooperative programs.
Improving understanding of government-private sector collaboration. Specialists in each country have difficulty understanding how the government structure and the private sector function in the other country. Since the role of government is central to almost all counterterrorism activities and since much of the burden of implementing preventive strategies falls on the private sector, improved familiarity with organizational responsibilities and practical experiences would be of benefit to many specialists in the two countries.