By Janet Phelan
The National BioWatch Stakeholders’ Conference will be taking place this Fall and you can bet your booties that the four day symposium will be an exercise in studied futility.
It is not that the focus of the conference is irrelevant. Hardly that. In fact, the issue of protecting the public from an act of bioterrorism could not be more critical. And it is not that the US government is bumbling around in the dark where private enterprise could step in more efficiently. Even given the recent failure of the Generation 3 BioWatch technology to gain Congressional and DHS approval, the technology at hand for detecting an airborne release is still state of the art.
BioWatch was launched in 2003, prompted by the anthrax laced letters which were put into the mail shortly after September 11, 2001. Letters containing anthrax spores were mailed to several news media offices and two Democratic US Senators, killing five people and infecting 17 others.
BioWatch has been described as “the nation’s first early warning network of sensors to detect biological attack.”
This is how it works: In about thirty cities across America, filters have been mounted, secret sensors sniffing the air and picking up microbes which will be analyzed on a regular basis at a nearby lab. Should there be a biological weapons release into the atmosphere in any of these cities, alarm bells will ring in the nation’s capitol and help will be speeding its way to the afflicted areas.
Critics of BioWatch have pointed to the numerous false positives associated with the program. In addition, other concerns focus on the inability of the sensors to detect underground or indoor releases. Critics have also pointed out that sensors placed in large, polluted cities may fail entirely to detect a biological release.
But on one pivotal issue the critics have remained silent. With billions of dollars reported as having been pumped into BioWatch from its inception, there is little attention being given to the potential for an act of biological terrorism through the nation’s water supplies.
The US water systems are wide open for a potential act of bioterrorism
In fact, the configuration of the nation’s public water systems, a configuration which contains parallel water mains, would provide the perfect, undetectable delivery system for a bio/chem attack. Blueprints obtained by this reporter—and obtained with some difficulty, it should be mentioned—clearly show two parallel lines running down each and every street in all cities where blueprints were obtained, cross connected by service lines, which provide water into residences. Remote controlled valves positioned on the second line indicate that whatever that second line contains is being withheld by these valves.
But withheld why, and until when?
The system as it is currently configured would allow for the contents of the second line to dump into some houses while being withheld from others, through the opening and closing of the remote controlled valves. In this manner, whatever is in the second line can be selectively delivered to some residences, while leaving others untouched and uncontaminated.
And those behind this attack could remain safe from its effects. Not so with an airborne release. The automation of this system, provided by the remote controlled valves, would keep the public from being alerted that something was going on with the water system.
It has been suggested that, upon the initiation of a pandemic-level event, quarantines may be imposed. That way, whomever is getting the pathogen pulsed into his residence via the water lines will be assured of getting the maximum dose.
If this sounds like science fiction, consider this: Following the events of September 2001, the US Congress passed a piece of legislation, entitled The Critical Infrastructure Information Act, making it a federal crime punishable by prison time for a government official to reveal information about “protected infrastructure.” Given the revelations here and here, this apparently includes information about the second water line. The existence of one water main is all that government officials will generally admit to, even when confronted by blueprints providing evidence to the contrary.
In fact, when the City of Los Angeles was tendered a request for blueprints, they wrote back agreeing to provide redacted blueprints. And redact they did. The City of Los Angeles provided this reporter entirely new blueprints, constructed at taxpayers’ expense, with each and every print stamped REDACTED. And these prints showed one line and one line only, controverted by blueprints for the same blocks obtained by this reporter through the foreman who was supervising the street work. These other, non-altered prints all showed two parallel water mains.
In other words, the public is not entitled to knowledge about the second line.
National Security or Keep them In the Dark?
Given the enormous amount of work that has gone into reconfiguring water systems throughout the US (and apparently the work to reconfigure the system into a double line system began around the time that President Nixon announced that the US was unilaterally abandoning its offensive biological weapons program), the BioWatch program could be viewed as a considerable…distraction. Over 40 billion dollars have already been allocated for BioWatch since its inception. How much, do you think, has gone into protecting the nation’s water supply?
The Department of Homeland Security has put together a number of BTRAs (Biological Threat Risk Assessments). Not one mention of the risk posed by the double line water system could be found.
The Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Homeland Security assure us of their continued efforts to protect critical infrastructure. According to the 2010 National Infrastructure Protection Plan, Water Sector,
…utilities have conducted risk assessments and based on the findings of those assessments, owners
and operators have created or updated emergency response plans (ERPs) and implemented numerous protective enhancements.
These enhancements include: (1) improving control of access to utilities; (2) expanding physical barriers against vulnerabilities
by installing equipment such as backflow prevention devices in pipes and locks on fire hydrants and manholes; (3) increasing
control over access, delivery, and storage of chemicals; and (4) hardening cyber network control systems by installing virus- detection software and firewalls, and in some cases by taking control systems offline.
However, when the EPA was recently contacted with questions about the double-line system and also what sorts of tests were used to ascertain the safety and drinkability of US water, that agency was unable to respond. Robert Daguillard, with the national press office for the EPA, offered a canned and entirely irrelevant reply to direct questions, touting the monitoring systems and various Presidential directives. He declined to respond to the question concerning the purpose of the second line and was also unable to reply to questions related to the type of tests run to ascertain the potability of tap water.
Having been advised that the Spokane blueprint was only one of many, obtained from a number of different cities in different states– all of which delineate that problematic and questionable second line– the EPA spokesperson had only this to say: In an email dated August 7, 2015, Daguillard wrote, “The blueprint shows a 36″ main and a 12″ distribution line with service connections. Based on this generic schematic, EPA cannot provide additional information.”
When pushed to the wall, “Deny Everything!”
The City of Spokane was contacted and their public affairs officer, Marlene Feist, insisted that the two parallel lines were not connected. The blueprints clearly show that a single service line runs from both pipes—Feist denies this. Other prints obtained at the same photo shoot contain a legend which indicate that both mains are both placed at a depth of 5.5 feet, again supporting the perception that the two lines are connected and that the contents of one or of both can therefore dump into any residence. Feist also refuted the veracity of the written legend on the prints which stated the 5.5 ft depth for both lines, in her continued efforts to deny the reality that the two mains are cross connected and using the same service lines from mains to house.
The FBI maintains a WMD tip line. The individual answering that call declined to speak to a member of the press, instead referring the call to the Press Office.
Ayn Dietrich, the press officer with the FBI area office covering Spokane, stated that she could not release information about the double-line water system.
It appears that an act of biological terrorism or a pandemic-level event, either naturally occurring or engineered, is on the horizon. A number of those-in-the-know, including former Senators Bill Graham and Jim Talent (now with the WMD center in Washington, DC) as well as individuals with the Department of Homeland Security have been tolling the bell, warning of an imminent attack.
Recently, The Guardian newspaper in England also announced the inevitability of a such an event. Predictive programming, such as in the movie Contagion, assure us that the US government is the “good guy” and will do everything in its power to protect us when “The Big One” hits.
One has to ask, though. With all this moolah being funneled into protecting the citizenry from an airborne attack and unknown billions of dollars having been spent to reconfigure water systems to provide a covert delivery system for a waterborne attack, one does have to ask.
And this is the one question which no one in the US government appears able to answer:
Hey buddy, what’s that second line for?
Janet C. Phelan, investigative journalist and human rights defender that has traveled pretty extensively over the Asian region, an author of a tell-all book EXILE, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.