Power plant sees year of highted security measures | CraigDailyPress.com

Power plant sees year of highted security measures

Christina M. Currie

In the art of war, disabling utility services is considered a viable and successful tactic, which is why power plants across the United States were put on alert when the Sept. 11 collapse of the World Trade Centers was identified as a terrorist attack, and all including the Craig Station Power Plant boosted security.

“You’ve got to understand the art of war,” Moffat County Sheriff Buddy Grinstead said. “You can immobilize a country by taking out the brain. They (terrorist groups) want to shut down utilities.”

Once put on alert, the Craig Station Power Plant immediately upgraded its security measures. Two Moffat County Sheriff’s Department deputies were dispatched to the plant one stationed at the entrance and the other roaming the property. The deputies stayed for three days, Moffat County Emergency Manager Clyde Anderson said, and then the Craig Station stepped in to provide its own security measures.

“We certainly adhered to (the FBI) warning, but we never had any indication specifically that any of our facilities would be targeted,” said Jim Van Someren, spokesman for Tri-State Generation and Transmission. Tri-State owns 24 percent of Units 1 and 2 and all of Unit 3 of the Craig Station Power Plant, as well as five other power-generating stations. “Any power generating facility in general is a potential target because of the nature of what it does and the potential effects of taking it out,” Jim Van Someren said.

The Craig Station has as good of a chance as any other power plant in the United States of becoming a target, he said. And, as little a chance.

The Craig Station generates 1,256 megawatts of power, enough to service more than 1 million customers business and residential in several western states.

Tri-State sells electricity to more than 40 member distribution systems, including Excel Energy, Pacificorp and the Salt River Project in Wyoming. Tri-State’s member distribution systems are located in Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming and New Mexico.

“A power plant like this one is considered a critical infrastructure target,” Anderson said. “There’s always a potential threat because of the nature of power plants. I think they initiated appropriate measures to deal with the new situation.”

According to Anderson, a guard station has been erected to screen visitors to the plant and fencing was installed or replaced.

“We have, over the last year, taken steps to increase security by a great degree,” Van Someren said. “People don’t get in or on that property without someone knowing.”

The Craig Station Power Plant is facing heavy construction as the result of a lawsuit settlement, which will tax security. According to Van Someren, hundreds will be entering and leaving the power plant, bringing equipment and supplies with them, but all will be monitored.

“We think we’re set up pretty well to have a lot of people in and out during construction,” he said.

The new security measures are permanent.

“It’s probably going to be a way of life out there from now on,” Anderson said.

Van Someren said the improvements to security have not had a significant drain on manpower or money.

“Certainly whatever the cost to put these in place is considered by our board as money well spent,”

he said.

There has been much communication between the power plant and local emergency responders, Van Someren said, and a copy of the plant’s emergency procedures has been filed with Anderson.

What’s been done in terms of security at the Craig Station Power Plant, Anderson believes, is adequate.

“What else can you do?” he said. “You can’t live in a bomb shelter for the rest of your life. The method

of dealing with a potential attack has to be in intelligence and preparedness.

“We can’t stop a plane from flying into (the power plant). We can just watch it happen and deal with the aftermath. There’s nothing we can do locally about an incoming,

hijacked airplane.”

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