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Best Practices for Food Terrorism

(See Chapter 7, “Food Security and Protection” for an in-depth discussion on the principles and practices of food safety throughout the food chain and the Food Safety Modernization Act. The first step in prevention is to enhance and properly utilize existing food safety programs at the governmental and industry levels, thereby enhancing all food safety efforts through improved and recognized programs in food monitoring, surveillance, inspection, foodborne disease detection, education, and training for professionals and others. This will then lead to not only improved food safety for the general population but also help in the event of a terrorist attack.)

Water Terrorism

Water is essential to the operation of society and the health and welfare of the population. Water may be used as a political or military target to cause physical or psychological damage and therefore help the terrorists achieve their goals of the disruption of society to impose their will upon others. The water infrastructure can be damaged or destroyed and therefore produce too much water at one place such as when a dam is blown up, or too little or no water in another place when the facilities processing the water are disrupted. Water may be contaminated with large quantities of microorganisms, chemicals, radioactive material, or with silt or other physical material. Reservoirs, pipes, and treatment plants are highly vulnerable to attack. In fact, in Philadelphia during World War II, the perimeters of the reservoirs were off-limits to all individuals and were patrolled by soldiers from the United States Army to ward off any such terrorist attacks. Although a given contaminant might not cause widespread illness or poisoning, it would probably cause massive problems by instilling considerable hysteria in the population. As an example, in 1993, an outbreak of cryptosporidium in Milwaukee killed over 100 people and affected the health of over 400,000 others. The degree of harm that can be caused by contaminated water depends on a variety of factors such as quantity, concentration, and treatment for contaminants through the normal water treatment process, which might work on microorganisms but not on chemicals. There is inadequate information available to determine the level of threat for water resources, but the potential exists. However, it is well known from outbreaks of waterborne disease, that if pressure differentials can be overcome, then wastewater can be made to flow into drinking water instead of the other way around. This has happened in the past quite frequently and continues to do so today. Once the wastewater has contaminated the drinking water supply, it can be distributed rapidly to large populations that utilize the water source and potentially cause considerable illness and possibly death. A few gallons of highly toxic chemicals if distributed properly within the water system could cause large amounts of illness.

The existing water quality infrastructure in many cases dates back 75 or 100 years or more and is in very poor condition. Not only is there a problem of the collapse of the system but also contamination from sewage and waste-bearing areas entering drinking water quality pipelines.

Best Practices for Water Terrorism

  • • Teach the public the ramifications of the effects of water terrorism.
  • • Encourage the public to immediately contact the proper authorities if they observe anyone tampering with the water supply by: dumping or discharging material into the water; climbing or cutting utility fences; parking unidentified vehicles near water sources; tampering with manhole covers or equipment within buildings; and unidentified vehicles hooked up to water hydrants, etc.
  • • Report any unusual tastes, odors, or color in the drinking water supply.
  • • Determine if any industrial plants are contaminating either the raw water supply or the drinking water supply from wastes or other problems within the industry.
  • • Protect all water supply sources from outside intrusion by people or animals by using proper fences, lighting and surveillance systems, and motion detectors, and securing all chemicals on-site.
  • • Evaluate the infrastructure of the water quality system including the raw water supply, the water treatment plants, the piping system, finished water storage areas and all dams, and make necessary corrections where necessary.
  • • Advise the public immediately of any terrorist acts and what potentially has been used to contaminate the water. Emphasize that boiling the water cannot remove any chemicals that are present.
  • • Several times a day test and evaluate what is present within the water and take immediate action if it is hazardous.
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