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Tommy Waller: U.S. Power Grid Vulnerable to Everything from EMP Bombs to Rifle Bullets

Tommy Waller: U.S. Power Grid Vulnerable to Everything from EMP Bombs to Rifle Bullets

25 Feb 2019
President of Special Projects for the Center for Security Policy Tommy Waller joined SiriusXM host Amanda House on Breitbart News Sunday to discuss the vulnerability of America’s power grid to sabotage.
With over 300 million users, the complex American power grid is “the foundation upon which all of our critical infrastructures function,” and Waller cautioned it has several components that are particularly vulnerable to sabotage.
“One of them are these extra-high-voltage transformers, EHV transformers,” he said. “In order for electricity to be transmitted over a long distance, they have to step the voltage up. At the end of that transfer, they have to step the voltage down.”
“Those transformers are essentially irreplaceable. It takes about 18 months to build them. They’re custom-built, almost exclusively overseas. We have roughly 2,000 of these EHV transformers around the country and most of them are completely unprotected,” he said.
Waller said another vulnerability is presented by the SCADA controls, the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition computers that allow the grid to function.
“Without the SCADAs to run the grid, you could of course have an upset. You could have some limited damage. But the transformers – without those transformers in our current grid infrastructure, if those were to go away, you would have a loss of electricity for a very, very long time,” he said.
Waller clarified that sabotage, which could involve methods as crude as physically wrecking the transformers with simple weapons or explosives, could compromise the power grid for much longer than the days or weeks of power loss associated with hurricanes and other natural events.
“A study done by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission found that just the right nine substations attacked in the United States – if someone just with rifles attacked the right nine substations – the cascading failures and power outages could put us in a blackout that could last about 18 months,” he reported.
Waller said the most catastrophic possible attack would be conducted with an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) weapon, or possibly a natural phenomenon that duplicates the effects of one. He explained the EMP phenomenon was first discovered when the United States began conducting nuclear bomb tests outside of the Earth’s atmosphere, an altitude of about 30 kilometers or higher. The strength of the electromagnetic pulse released by a nuclear blast outside of the atmosphere stunned the researchers who discovered it.
“What happens when a nuclear weapon detonates at that altitude is, there’s three series of pulses. One, the E1 pulse, happens within a manner of nanoseconds. Every electron is stripped off of every atom and travels towards Earth in a manner of nanoseconds,” he explained.
“That E1 pulse can couple into really, really small conductors in electronics, so the computers that we operate everything in our lives with – our cell phones, if they are plugged in, chances are they will get fried. The vehicles that we drive, many of them could fail to function because of that E1 pulse,” he said.
“Within a fraction of a second, that E1 pulse is followed by E2, which is much like natural lightning – but just imagine natural lightning that takes place at one point, this would be over a widespread area,” he continued.
This would be followed by the E3 pulse, a wave of energy released as the nuclear explosion interacts with the Earth’s magnetosphere, much as the aurora borealis is created by much less violent shifts in the magnetosphere or solar storms cause relatively mild magnetic disruptions when the energy they release reaches our planet.
Waller explained the E3 pulse from a nuclear EMP strike would not inflict as much damage on electronics as the E1 pulse did, but it would have catastrophic effects on the long conductors found in our power grid and communications networks, from power transmission lines to fiber optics. The resulting power surge through the grid could destroy devices connected to it, including the computers and transformers vital to grid operation.
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Source: Tommy Waller: U.S. Power Grid Vulnerable to Everything from EMP Bombs to Rifle Bullets

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