Friday, September 11, 2015

Catastrophic Risks in US Energy Infrastructure

USA Today reports on the possibility of cyber attacks taking down US electrical grids:
Steve Reilly, “Records: Energy Department struck by cyber attacks,” USA Today, September 10, 2015, accessed September 11, 2015,
Attackers successfully compromised U.S. Department of Energy computer systems more than 150 times between 2010 and 2014, a review of federal records obtained by USA TODAY finds. Cyber attackers successfully compromised the security of U.S. Department of Energy computer systems more than 150 times between 2010 and 2014, according to a review of federal records obtained by USA TODAY.

....The records, obtained by USA TODAY through the Freedom of Information Act, show DOE components reported a total of 1,131 cyberattacks over a 48-month period ending in October 2014. Of those attempted cyber intrusions, 159 were successful...
Majia here: This is a must read article (see link above) because it demonstrates how VULNERABLE our ELECTRIC GRID is to sabotage.

A similar warning was published in 2014 in The Washington Post, as foreign countries' hacks aimed at understanding US computer control systems:
Nakashima, Ellen (2014, Nov 20) Foreign powers steal data on critical U.S. infrastructure, NSA chief says. The Washington Post

Several foreign countries, including China, have infiltrated the computers of critical industries in the United States to steal information that could be used in the planning of a destructive attack, the director of the National Security Agency said Thursday....

...“We see them attempting to do reconnaissance on our systems” to steal “specific schematics of most of our control systems” down to the engineering details, said Rogers, who also heads U.S. Cyber Command, the Pentagon’s cyberoffensive unit.....

...China and “one or two” other countries are capable of mounting cyberattacks that would shut down the electric grid and other critical systems in parts of the United States, according to Adm. Michael S. Rogers, director of the National Security Agency. (AP)

“There shouldn’t be any doubt in our minds that there are nation-states and groups out there that have the capability . . . to shut down, forestall our ability to operate our basic infrastructure, whether it’s generating power across this nation, whether it’s moving water and fuel,” he said. “Those tend to be the biggest focus areas that we have seen.”  [end excerpt]
It should be obvious to everyone now that our electric grids are vulnerable to sabotage.

Sabotage the electric grid and you will have more than social pandemonium. Nuclear reactors and spent fuel pools require electricity for cooling of hot fuel. Within days, fuel not cooled will begin off-gassing volatile radionuclides.

If you think back-up generators are the solution, then read this:
AP (2011, October 4) 4 generator failures hit US nuclear plants.
 Four generators that power emergency systems at nuclear plants have failed when needed since April, an unusual cluster that has attracted the attention of federal inspectors ... generators serve the crucial function of supplying electricity to cooling systems that prevent a nuclear plant’s hot, radioactive fuel from overheating, melting... In the U.S., an average of roughly one diesel generator has failed when needed each year since 1997.
We have engineered catastrophic risks into our energy infrastructures and then we increase the likelihood of catastrophe by our constant warring.

Humans might have lasted longer if they had never left the garden.

(And don't blame Eve for Adam's crimes)


  1. makes me sad to think about how low the nuclear peter principle is

  2. It would help greatly if the people in Charge were practical minded individuals but those get weeded out via elections and other forms of chicanery. It is no longer so eccentric to have serious reservations about the grandeur of civilization. How well the Native Americans did for thousands of years. This morning my computer had flipped the date back to 2003; it regularly switches to UT but keeps claiming MT time. I have enough computer and internet experience to both marvel at the fact that they works as well as they do and to also have serious doubts about having major things like power plants dependent on electrons which may occasionally become errant on their own without any instigation from hackers. I bet Adam started reading self help books and listening to CD's like the Secret. :)

    1. Yes. I think that living in balance and harmony is a better paradigm that domination and exploitation.

  3. capitalism , neoliberalism, neoconservatism are really based on screw your buddy. no teamwork. i have seen in healthcare for many years. hospital adminiatrators give them selve 6figure bonuses and cut all the providers hours benefits and pay. the chaos starts at the top and expands downward. same for energy aectors and just about everything in america now. so sad