SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Sean Houghton, Glenn Rossman, Ignacio M. Llorente

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New "old-world" solution for attacks on U.S. power grid could protect country's most important assets, says Infrastructure Defense Technologies

BELVIDERE, Ill., Feb. 11, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The April 2013 attack on a San Jose, CA, power substation serving Silicon Valley has been termed the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred in the U.S. The solution for protecting such substations and other critical infrastructure could involve an old-world solution.

The well-planned and organized attack on the PG&E substation began when someone cut an important AT&T communications cable inside an underground vault near the substation. Minutes later, more than 100 bullets were fired from several AK-47 rifles at 17 giant transformers within the facility that could have led to outages in America's scientific technology hub within the Silicon Valley.

Jon Wellinghoff, who chaired the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission until last November, investigated the San Jose attack and led high-level briefings to federal agencies, Congress and the White House last year. Wellinghoff has called the potential for additional attacks, like the one in San Jose, an indication of a "huge threat" and said that it represented, "the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred."

"While most of the electrical industry has been focused on the threat of cyber-terrorism, the San Jose attack points to the need for physical protection of strategic power grid assets as well," said Tom Carlton of Infrastructure Defense Technologies, LLC (IDT). "We've brought an important new component to a traditional protection method that is an effective solution for future attacks."

Since Biblical times, the method of thick-walled fortifications to halt manned and artillery attacks remains the best technology for protecting lives and important assets. IDT's physical barrier system is called METALITH™. The prefabricated steel barrier structure is filled with sand and is several feet thick. It has proven to be resistant to bullets, explosives and vehicle ramming. IDT has installed its barriers at strategic U.S. and foreign nuclear and military sites since the September 2001 attacks. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has designated METALITH to be a 90th percentile solution to ground-based attacks, and the product is now an important component of the U.S. military's force protection program worldwide.

"I believe that the threat of armed attacks against our nation's power grid is real," said Carlton. "IDT offers a cost-effective solution that can be easily installed to significantly reduce the threat of an attack such as the one in San Jose."

Americans have witnessed what the loss of just one important power substation can have on their lives. A 2003 incident knocked out power to 50 million people in the U.S. and Canada for days. An attack on a small number of critical substations and other assets could have a major negative impact on Internet, financial, petrochemical and military services. The U.S. Department of Energy noted in a 2009 report that "physical damage of certain system components on a large scale could result in prolonged outages."

"The cost of posting 24-hour guards at important substations can be avoided and the sites can be more effectively protected by using a proven barrier system that eliminates the need for a guard force being stationed at these sites," Carlton said. "Installing a METALITH system is a one-and-done solution that can be an effective protection against an attack for decades."

IDT's engineered physical protection barriers are currently installed at military, nuclear and petrochemical facilities around the world. The barriers are used for blast mitigation, vehicle arrest, protective delay, perimeter security, access control and ballistics protection. The company's staff of Subject Matter Experts can provide on-site analysis of vulnerabilities a facility may offer to terrorists, then customize a solution involving barriers and other protection technologies.

"Americans have become accustomed to hearing about U.S. military deaths from IEDs, suicide bombers in vehicles and RPG attacks," Carlton said. "IDT has been an important force in reducing those casualties with their barriers. We've learned what works, and METALITH has proven itself to be the most formidable anti-terrorism barrier available."

For more information on IDT, visit www.infrastructure-defense.com or call (800) 379-1822.  

SOURCE Infrastructure Defense Technologies

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