Forwarded from: William Knowles <wk@private> http://torontostar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1073862608195&call_pageid=968332188492&col=968705899037 Jan. 11, 2004 OTTAWA (CP) - Throughout the massive summer power blackout, the federal government relied on a master emergency plan dating from the Cold War that was "badly in need of revision." Newly disclosed memos reveal the musty manual, confusion about the seriousness of the power outage and subsequent communication breakdowns were just some of the shortcomings during the mid-August power failure that left most of Ontario — and much of the rest of northeastern North America — in the dark. The internal documents are among almost 1,500 pages of records on the blackout obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act. Some 50 million people in Canada and eight U.S. states were affected by the failure that originated in Ohio on Aug. 14 and rapidly triggered a series of power shutdowns. Since electrical generation and distribution fall under provincial jurisdiction, Ontario took the lead in tackling the emergency. However, the federal government was responsible for providing support to the province during the crisis. The Government Emergency Book is supposed to serve as a blueprint for co-ordinating a federal response to calamities, but has lagged woefully behind the times, notes a memo by an analyst with the Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Emergency Preparedness, known as OCIPEP. "The (book) was prepared during the Cold War era to provide for civil support to military mobilization in the event of a Soviet incursion across the Elb River in Germany or other types of nuclear or `national emergency' of the Cold War sort," the analyst wrote. "It is badly in need of revision to reflect the new realities of events that can occur in North America including cyber-attacks, terrorism-related incidents, and cascading critical infrastructure failures resulting from a power outage." The analyst argued that drafting a plan to handle the crash of key utilities "would seem to be a priority for OCIPEP as well as the (federal government)." OCIPEP has since been rolled into the new Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Department created by Prime Minster Paul Martin's government. Emergency agency spokesman Max London insisted in an interview that the outdated manual did not hamper the federal response to the blackout. But London added that he didn't disagree with the need to update the book and said the process is under way. Another internal OCIPEP memo recommends the agency assess the risks posed by the aging electric infrastructure in Ontario — a move that, if undertaken before the blackout, "may have pointed to vulnerabilities" in the province. The study may extend to Quebec, where the hydro infrastructure is threatened by electromagnetic storms that strike the long power lines running south from James Bay, the memo adds. London, however, suggested that such work could stray beyond the emergency agency's mandate. He indicated the operators of hydro systems are best placed to undertake such studies. The memos show some federal emergency personnel incorrectly assumed the blackout, which occurred near the end of the workday, was a local problem. "Staff waited for about 10 minutes and began drifting out with a `see you tomorrow wave,' " noted one employee, adding that in future "no one should leave until the dimensions of the situation are known." The documents also reveal it took three days for OCIPEP to get key advice from the Natural Resources Department, the federal agency responsible for the energy and utilities sector. One memo laments the lack of timely information from the department on the cause of the power interruption, the magnitude and scope of the crisis and the likely impacts. London played down the lack of contact between the departments. "The early hours of any emergency are characterized by a certain level of confusion (and) conflicting information," he said. "We were not suffering from a lack of information." *==============================================================* "Communications without intelligence is noise; Intelligence without communications is irrelevant." Gen Alfred. M. Gray, USMC ---------------------------------------------------------------- C4I.org - Computer Security, & Intelligence - http://www.c4i.org ================================================================ Help C4I.org with a donation: http://www.c4i.org/contribute.html *==============================================================* - ISN is currently hosted by Attrition.org To unsubscribe email majordomo@private with 'unsubscribe isn' in the BODY of the mail.
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