Research Paper: Preventing Terrorist Attacks

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[. . .] This is one of the reasons for which precautionary measures have been taken in order to limit the capacity of terrorists from infecting the drinkable water. These measures include the replacement of "chlorine gas as disinfection to alternatives which are believed to be safer, such as sodium hypochlorite or ultraviolet light. However, some consumer groups remain concerned that many wastewater utilities, including facilities that serve heavily populated areas, continue to use chlorine gas. To prepare for potential accidental releases of hazardous chemicals from their facilities, more than 2,800 wastewater and drinking water utilities, water supply systems, and irrigation systems already are subject to risk management planning requirements under the Clean Air Act" (Copeland, 2010). This measure taken per se however is not aimed at particularly preventing terrorist attacks but rather at avoiding any natural disasters from taking place, which is by no means an easy task, yet it fails to fully address the terrorist threat.

Terrorism is not a phenomenon that can be either taken lightly or eradicated. There have been numerous military interventions in the last decade that aimed at destroying terrorist groups, however, their actions were not stopped and the threat remains one of great concern. Although the territory of the United States was never again attacked in the manner that it was in 2001, this fact of history does not guarantee that such an action could not be repeated and at greater costs. This is why it is crucial that actions aimed at effectively securing the strategic resources of the country be set in place, constantly monitored and improved. From the point-of-view of the water and wastewater systems, the measures taken so far can be seen as somewhat limited in the protection they offer in case of a terrorist threat. Indeed, there are useful for preventive purposes in the condition in which there is no available or foreseeable threat. In this situation, the government does not know what to expect in this system area. At the same time though, if the government becomes aware of the actions it needs to take only after a terrorist attack takes place on the water system, then for the people and infrastructure affected, it may be too late. This is why, increased measures of security need to be set in place.

One possibility would be to allow for better physical security at the main water stations, not only in terms of response time but also 24 hours security and improved verification systems for the individuals entering or exiting the premises. It must be pointed out that the 9/11 events were made possible also due to a limited system of verification and human error.

Another way to improve security of the system is to strengthen the informatics system that coordinates both water systems and the security at the federal, regional, and local level. The world we live in today is not related simply to a physical presence but rather it connects in every corner of the world via the Internet or other networks of communication. A terrorist threat can at any time come from a cyber attack that would in turn determine a physical catastrophe.

Also, the people working in the water facilities need to have constant instructions on the way in which they should react in case of a disaster. This is not to say that trainings are necessary everyday, but rather to increase their awareness of the importance of their job and the way in which their response can make the difference between life and death in case of an attack.

Finally, it must be said that no matter the measures taken to prevent terrorist attacks or the pre-emptive actions taken in this sense, the most important action that needs to be followed is to work, through every means possible, to make terrorism a threat of the past.


Copeland, C. 2005. "Hurricane-Damaged Drinking Water and Wastewater Facilities: Impacts, Needs, and Response" CRS Report for Congress. Available at

Copeland, C. 2010. "Terrorism and Security Issues Facing the Water Infrastructure Sector" Congressional Research Center Available at

Dept. Of Homeland Security. 2013. Water and Wastewater Systems Sector. Available online at

Leuven, L. 2011. "Water/Wastewater Infrastructure Security: Threats and Vulnerabilities" in R.M. Clark et al. (eds.), Handbook of Water and Wastewater Systems Protection, 27 Protecting Critical Infrastructure, available online.

US Environmental Protection Agency. 2010. "Water Sector-Specific Plan An Annex to the National Infrastructure Protection Plan 2010" Homeland Security. Available at [END OF PREVIEW]

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Preventing Terrorist Attacks.  (2013, October 6).  Retrieved September 15, 2019, from

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"Preventing Terrorist Attacks."  6 October 2013.  Web.  15 September 2019. <>.

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"Preventing Terrorist Attacks."  October 6, 2013.  Accessed September 15, 2019.