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National Research Council report on security at federally managed dams
Date:8/19/2008

WASHINGTON -- Since the terrorist attacks of 2001, the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), which operates and manages dams that provide water and power to millions of people, has invested significant resources in security and is better able to protect its facilities and personnel, says a new report from the National Research Council. However, BOR needs better communication among security staff, regional and area office staff, and local law enforcement personnel; security plans that are designed to meet realistic, site-specific threats; and more consistent support within the organization. The bureau should take a more strategic approach to its security program and develop a long-term plan that addresses policy, programmatic, and resource issues, said the committee that wrote the report.

There are approximately 80,000 dams in the U.S. today, many of which would become significant hazards if they should fail. Of these, BOR operates and manages 479 dams and dikes in 17 states, including five national critical infrastructure facilities: Hoover, Grand Coulee, Folsom, Shasta, and Glen Canyon dams. Because of the wide geographical region serviced, BOR has a largely decentralized organizational structure and relies on partnerships with local contractors and regional and area office staff for day-to-day dam operations. In contrast, the security system put in place after Sept. 11, 2001, is centralized in the Security, Safety, and Law Enforcement Office, located in Denver. This difference in organizational structures has seriously impeded communications and working relationships between the Denver-based security staff and the regional and area BOR personnel (see findings 17-21).

The decentralized operations of BOR mean that the first responders to a security incident are local law enforcement, although Hoover Dam has an on-site police department and Grand Coulee Dam has a security force trained as first reponders. The chain of command during a sec
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Contact: Rebecca Alvania
news@nas.edu
202-334-2138
National Academy of Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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