Terror attack on grid would collapse U.S.
Government scientific advisers and officials painted a grim picture Thursday of the consequences of a terror attack on the nation’s power grid, saying that any outage that lasted longer than a couple of days would reduce urban centers to chaos and collapse the economy. “With power out beyond a day or two, both food and water supplies would soon fail. Transportation systems would be at a standstill … natural gas pressure would decline and some would lose gas altogether — not good in the winter time … Communications would be spotty or non-existent. … All in all, our cities would not be very nice places to be… Martial law would likely follow,” Paul H. Gilbert of the National Research Council told a congressional panel. Lawmakers on the House Homeland Security Committee were trying to see what lessons about the nation’s security could be drawn from the massive Aug. 14 power outage, which left 50 million people in the United States and Canada without electricity for — in some cases — up to three days. But Gilbert said that recovery from an outage caused by a deliberate attack could “take weeks or months rather than hours or days.” Such frightening scenarios are not the product of a nightmarish imagination. Gilbert’s analysis was based on the work of a high-level brains trust within the National Academies. Nearly 200 scientists, experts and officials worked for six months on the report he cited as the basis for his assessment. Full Story