If Hurricane Sandy’s impact on the power supply on the East Coast is any indication, a terrorist attack on the electrical grid could have devastating effects. A new report released Wednesday by the National Academy of Sciences has only confirmed the need for improved infrastructure protection from both terrorism and natural disasters.
NAS described the current system as “inherently vulnerable” due to its widespread nature and poor security of facilities. The press release on the report stated that things only got worse for infrastructure security in the 1990s when legislation meant to introduce competition ended up putting a strain the high-voltage system. Age and old technology are factors as well.
“Power system disruptions experienced to date in the United States, be they from natural disasters or malfunctions, have had immense economic impacts,” M. Granger Morgan, professor and head of the department of engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University and chair of the committee that wrote the report, said in a statement. “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.”