The Arizona power grid was attacked last week when an unknown suspects, or suspects, placed a homemade bomb by a diesel fuel tank. If the device had functioned as the maker had planned, more than 30,000 Nogales area residents would have been left in the dark. The bomb left at the Arizona substation was placed beneath a 50,000-gallon diesel fuel tank at the “critical transformer substation.” The area south of Tucson has been the making national headlines recently due to the overwhelming influx of young illegal immigrants pouring across the Mexican border.
Although the homemade bomb left at the Arizona power grid substation did not generate the explosion likely envisioned the destructive act does once again illustrate the frailties of the country’s electrical grid. The bomb could have fit inside the palm of your hand, according to reports from investigating agents. The bomb at the Nogales substation was geared to ignite one of the diesel fuel storage tanks that back up the power generators at the Arizona substation.
UniSource Energy Services representative Joe Salkowski had this to say about the Arizona power grid attack during an interview with The Blaze:
“One the morning of June 11, an employee discovered that a hole had been cut in the fence of a substation that serves Nogales, Arizona and that the remains of a crude incendiary device was found at the base of a diesel fuel tank. The device caused a small, temporary fuel leak and blackened a small section of the surface of the tank, but did not cause any serious damage to the fuel tank. We are currently reviewing security in place at that facility as well as others in the area in hopes of identifying potential upgrades or anything that could be done to prevent similar incidents in the future.”
News reports after the power grid substation attack last week indicated that a “large explosion” had occurred at the Arizona facility, but Salkowski said the incident was small in nature. The Nogales facility is owned by UniSource Energy, a subsidiary of UNS Energy based out of Tucson.
The electrical grid substation is just a few miles from the Mexican border and provides power to the region around Nogales. Transmission cable lines link the Nogales substation to a larger facility in Tucson. Had the suspect or suspects realized that diesel has a high flash point and is difficult to ignite, they likely would have crafted a more substantial bomb to succeed in their planned destruction.
“They were able to gain access to the facility illegally. They had some working knowledge of what the tank is or how it works,” Nogales Police Lt. Carlos Jimenez told the media.
The Arizona attack is eerily similar to a similar incident that occurred at a Tennessee facility and a California power grid substation last year. Then, just as now, the attacks on the power grid went largely unnoticed. It took months for information about the California power grid attack to garner national headlines. Security and terrorism expects voiced concerns about the power grid attacks being merely dress rehearsals for larger future events after information about the California and Tennessee incidents filtered into the public consciousness. The FBI and ATF are currently investigating the Arizona power grid attack and attempting to determine if the incident is related to the Tennessee and California events.
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