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Local News

November 27, 2012

Company: Safeguards planned to protect pipeline from attack

COOPERSTOWN — In a new filing with federal regulators, the planners of the Constitution Pipeline suggest that safeguards have been designed to protect the public from any threat of terror targeting natural gas transmissions systems.

“The proposed pipeline will be buried, and pipeline pressure will be monitored 24 hours per day by Constitution’s Gas Control office,” said Tim Powell, a natural resources manager for Williams Partners, the company that would head the operations of the pipeline should it be approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

“Operations personnel will patrol the pipeline and appurtenant facilities on a routine basis,” Powell added in the report, which represented the pipeline planners’ official response to numerous comments made at recent environmental scoping hearings.

Powell also said that the gas industry, along with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, “has been diligent in taking steps to safeguard critical facilities against terrorist threats and to ensure the ability to recover from any incident on an expedited basis.”

He said Constitution Pipeline “cannot provide additional information regarding the vulnerability of the pipeline to terrorist attack or the measures undertaken to counter attacks. Divulging this information in the public domain potentially could place the pipeline system at risk by facilitating attempts to circumvent Constitution’s safety management program.”

The vulnerability of pipelines has been a concern for the Department of Homeland Security. Earlier this year, the federal agency alerted the natural gas industry to the fact that its computer networks were the target of a “gas pipeline sector cyber intrusion campaign,” the Christian Science Monitor reported in May.

At that time, the Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team — an arm of Homeland Security — reported that its “analysis of the malware and artifacts associated with these cyber attacks has positively identified this activity as related to a single campaign from a single source.” The attack, the agency said, involved “spear-phishing,” which was described as an effort by hackers to invade corporate computer networks.

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