Flood – Indonesian archipelago – Papua New Guinea

EDIS Number: FL-20140718-44591-PNG
Date / time: 18/07/2014 03:39:56 [UTC]
Event: Flood
Area: Indonesian archipelago
Country: Papua New Guinea
State/County:
Location: [Southern Highlands along the Highlands Highway]
Number of Deads: N/A
Number of Injured: N/A
Number of Infected: N/A
Number of Missing: N/A
Number of Affected: N/A
Number of Evacuated: 45000 person(s)
Damage level: Large

Description:

More than 45,000 people have been affected in the Gulf and Southern Highlands provinces as torrential rain continues unabated, giving rise to floods that are causing widespread damage. There have been no reports of lives being lost but a National Disaster office report revealed that 34,000 people in Southern Highlands and 11,359 in the Gulf province have been directly affected by the floods caused by the rains in the past month. The report said Southern Highlands Governor William Powi had committed K500,000 (US$204,999) for relief recovery in the affected areas in the Southern Highlands For Gulf Province the National Disaster Centre has released K200, 000 (US$81,999) with 60 tonnes of relief supplies which are already being delivered to the affected areas. Last week Prime Minister Peter O'Neill announced that the Government will make available K5 million (US$3.6 million) plus relief supplies for the two provinces.

Two separate reports for the two provinces by National Disaster office stated that food gardens and infrastructures, including bridges, have been destroyed by the floods. The reports said rainfall has also triggered landslides in various parts of the Southern Highlands along the Highlands Highway. Specific areas affected included 34,000 people in Imbonggu, Ialibu, Pangia and Nipa Kutubu areas. For Gulf Province, the continuous heavy rain since the second week of June has caused extensive flooding along and within the surrounding areas of Purari River in the Baimuru LLG of Kikori district. The river rose up to 10 metres, bursting its banks and affecting villages along the banks. The worst affected villages are Wabo, Uru and Uraru situated at the upper stream, and Mapaio along the lower stream of the river. Villages along and within the surrounding areas of Purari River, Baimuru LLG, Kikori district, Uraru, Ura, Wabo, Subu, Poroi, Ebala, Mapai, Mapaio, Kapuna, Pakema and Ipigo. Several houses in Wabo, Uru and Uraru villages were completely washed away, forcing families to move to higher grounds to live in make shift camps while some are residing with their other family members. Food gardens and cash crops were inundated and clean water sources contaminated by rising water levels, thus affecting their livelihood.

HAZMAT – North-America – USA

EDIS Number: HZ-20140718-44590-USA
Date / time: 18/07/2014 03:38:27 [UTC]
Event: HAZMAT
Area: North-America
Country: USA
State/County: State of Arizona
Location: Phoenix
Number of Deads: N/A
Number of Injured: N/A
Number of Infected: N/A
Number of Missing: N/A
Number of Affected: N/A
Number of Evacuated: N/A
Damage level: N/A

Description:

Phoenix police are searching for a stolen piece of equipment that contains radioactive material and are asking anyone who comes across it to alert authorities. A commercial business located near 34th Street and Broadway Road notified police on June 16 that several items used in construction had been stolen, according to a statement from Phoenix Police on Thursday. Detectives recently learned that one of the items stolen was a soil density meter, which contains three types of radioactive material, the statement said. If the shell of the equipment is removed, anyone nearby would be exposed to levels of radiation, according to the statement.

Extreme Weather – Asia – China

EDIS Number: ST-20140718-44589-CHN
Date / time: 18/07/2014 03:36:46 [UTC]
Event: Extreme Weather
Area: Asia
Country: China
State/County: Capital City
Location: Beijing
Number of Deads: N/A
Number of Injured: N/A
Number of Infected: N/A
Number of Missing: N/A
Number of Affected: N/A
Number of Evacuated: N/A
Damage level: N/A

Description:

Torrential rain and hail hit Beijing. Cars were submerged under a bridge... judging from wall stains left by the flooding, water depth reached two meters. This has raised concerns over the capability of the city's water discharge systems. Local authorities said the government will update the water discharge system of all fly-overs in hopes of preventing damage from water pooling during the flooding season. Meanwhile, Beijing's Yanqing county saw great thunderstorms and hail Wednesday afternoon, with ping-pong sized hail stones reportedly piling on the ground. According to forecasts, Beijing will see more rain with heavy winds in the coming days.

Biological Hazard – North-America – Canada

EDIS Number: BH-20140718-44588-CAN
Date / time: 18/07/2014 03:32:50 [UTC]
Event: Biological Hazard
Area: North-America
Country: Canada
State/County: Province of Ontario
Location: [Moonlight Beach on Ramsey Lake]
Number of Deads: N/A
Number of Injured: N/A
Number of Infected: N/A
Number of Missing: N/A
Number of Affected: N/A
Number of Evacuated: N/A
Damage level: N/A

Description:

The Sudbury and District Health Unit and the Ministry of the Environment are currently investigating a possible blue-green algal bloom at Moonlight Beach on Ramsey Lake. As a precaution, the Health Unit has posted signs advising the public to avoid swimming, drinking the water, and allowing pets into the water if the algal bloom is present at the beaches. If no bloom is present, water can be used for regular recreational activities. The advisory does not currently apply to Amphitheatre, Main, Canoe Club, New and Bell Grove beaches on Ramsey Lake. The City of Greater Sudbury is working closely with the Sudbury and District Health Unit and the Ministry of the Environment to monitor the situation. "The Ministry of the Environment tells us that, should it be necessary, the David Street Water Treatment Plant has the technology to provide an effective barrier to all algae and can reduce the levels of algae toxins found in raw water," said Burgess Hawkins, manager in the city's environmental health division. Blue-green algae could also appear in other parts of the lake. Because blooms are not anchored, they can move from one location to another through wind and water action. New blooms can also form. All residents on lakes or rivers should look for blooms in their area. Blue-green algal blooms have an unsightly pea soup appearance and foul smell, and can produce toxins. The highest concentrations of toxins are usually found in blooms and scum on the shoreline. These dense accumulations pose the greatest potential risks to people and pets. The algae toxins can irritate a person's skin and, if ingested, cause diarrhea and vomiting. If a person ingests high levels of toxin, they could suffer liver and nervous system damage.

Biological Hazard – Asia – China

EDIS Number: BH-20140718-44586-CHN
Date / time: 18/07/2014 03:22:26 [UTC]
Event: Biological Hazard
Area: Asia
Country: China
State/County: Province of Gansu
Location: Jiuquan
Number of Deads: 1 person(s)
Number of Injured: N/A
Number of Infected: N/A
Number of Missing: N/A
Number of Affected: N/A
Number of Evacuated: N/A
Damage level: N/A

Description:

Authorities in the city of Jiuquan, northwest China's Gansu Province, Thursday issued a level III emergency alert in response to the death of a resident from pneumonic plague. The victim, surnamed Wang but whose gender was not stated, died after contracting the serious lung infection, said a publicity official from the Yumen Health and Family Planning Commission. Following confirmation of the cause of death, 151 people known to have been in close contact with Wang, who lived in Yumen, were put into isolation pending health checks, the city government said. Yumen is administered by Jiuquan. The tests failed to find any evidence to suggest any of the people were similarly infected, the government said in a statement on its website. They have, however, been given medicine as a precautionary measure, the statement said. As a result of the emergency alert -- the third-highest in a four-tier system - four quarantine areas have been set up: in Yumen City, Chijin Town, Xihu Village and an unnamed rural area, the government said. Several roads into and out of Jiuquan have also been closed, including the Lianhuo Expressway that links east Jiangsu Province and the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, local traffic police said. "We don't know when the road will reopen," said Meng Guanghui, a police officer who patrols the expressway, adding that drivers have been told to find alternative routes. The plague that killed Wang is thought to have come from fleas carried by rats. The deadly disease decimated populations across Europe in the 14th century.

Biological Hazard – North-America – USA

EDIS Number: BH-20140718-44585-USA
Date / time: 18/07/2014 03:19:25 [UTC]
Event: Biological Hazard
Area: North-America
Country: USA
State/County: State of Texas
Location: Fort Hood
Number of Deads: N/A
Number of Injured: N/A
Number of Infected: N/A
Number of Missing: N/A
Number of Affected: N/A
Number of Evacuated: N/A
Damage level: N/A

Description:

The Fort Hood Veterinary Center (VETCEN) was notified Thursday, July 17, that a bat found in the vicinity of the Department of Public Works motor pool, building 4001, tested positive for rabies. The bat was given to a wildlife rehab specialist who brought the bat to the Fort Hood VETCEN. The bat was humanely euthanized and submitted for rabies testing at the Texas Department of Health Services Laboratory. This is the fourth identified case on Fort Hood since May 12. The first case involved a skunk that was sighted during daylight hours acting strangely in a motor pool on Motorpool Road. The second case, on May 16, involved a dark gray and white kitten that attacked a Fort Hood resident outside a home on Central Drive on post. The third case, on June 6, involved a young fox, which was thought to be injured when found in the vicinity of the LV Phantom area and building 53905 near Clarke Road. Public Health Command and the Fort Hood Veterinary Center strongly urge all Fort Hood Soldiers, civilians, contractors and residents to be aware and avoid handling wild or stray animals. If you notice any wildlife or stray animals acting abnormally, or displaying neurologic or aggressive behavior please contact the Military Police at (254) 287-4001. If you believe you have already come into contact with an animal displaying any of these symptoms please go directly to the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center Emergency Department for immediate care. "If you or your pets make contact with a stray animal or wildlife, contact your local veterinarian or health care provider immediately. Rabies is a deadly disease and currently present in this area. Please remain diligent for the health and safety of you and your family," Dr. John Kuczek, officer in charge of the Fort Hood VETCEN said. An animal that is infected with rabies may not show any signs or symptoms until late in the disease, often just days before its death. The animal can, however, still spread the deadly virus while appearing completely normal.

Vehicle Accident – Europe – France

EDIS Number: VI-20140718-44584-FRA
Date / time: 18/07/2014 03:16:24 [UTC]
Event: Vehicle Accident
Area: Europe
Country: France
State/County: Province of Aquitaine
Location: [Near to Denguin]
Number of Deads: N/A
Number of Injured: 25 person(s)
Number of Infected: N/A
Number of Missing: N/A
Number of Affected: N/A
Number of Evacuated: N/A
Damage level: N/A

Description:

At least 25 people were injured, four of them seriously, when a high-speed TGV train collided with a regional express train in southern France on Thursday. Among those badly injured were a baby, a 10-year-old boy, a woman and the driver of the regional express train. The high-speed train carrying 178 people collided with the regional express, which had 70 passengers, near the town of Denguin, on the line between Pau and Bayonne in the south-west of the country, local officials said. The crash happened about 17 kilometres (10 miles) from Pau. The worst casualties were in a "terrible state", a rescue worker said. Two of them were airlifted to hospital, police said.

Vehicle Accident – Europe – France

EDIS Number: VI-20140718-44584-FRA
Date / time: 18/07/2014 03:16:24 [UTC]
Event: Vehicle Accident
Area: Europe
Country: France
State/County: Province of Aquitaine
Location: [Near to Denguin]
Number of Deads: N/A
Number of Injured: 25 person(s)
Number of Infected: N/A
Number of Missing: N/A
Number of Affected: N/A
Number of Evacuated: N/A
Damage level: N/A

Description:

At least 25 people were injured, four of them seriously, when a high-speed TGV train collided with a regional express train in southern France on Thursday. Among those badly injured were a baby, a 10-year-old boy, a woman and the driver of the regional express train. The high-speed train carrying 178 people collided with the regional express, which had 70 passengers, near the town of Denguin, on the line between Pau and Bayonne in the south-west of the country, local officials said. The crash happened about 17 kilometres (10 miles) from Pau. The worst casualties were in a "terrible state", a rescue worker said. Two of them were airlifted to hospital, police said.

HAZMAT – North-America – USA

EDIS Number: HZ-20140718-44583-USA
Date / time: 18/07/2014 03:14:31 [UTC]
Event: HAZMAT
Area: North-America
Country: USA
State/County: State of Washington
Location: Seattle [Keller Supply and Company, 3209 17th Ave. W]
Number of Deads: N/A
Number of Injured: 2 person(s)
Number of Infected: N/A
Number of Missing: N/A
Number of Affected: N/A
Number of Evacuated: N/A
Damage level: Minor

Description:

Over sixteen Seattle Fire Department units have been dispatched to a hazardous material report at Keller Supply and Company at 3209 17th Ave. W. in Interbay. Two women were exposed to something that caused them to have a rash and one to vomit after fainting. The women were rushed to Swedish Hospital on Cherry Hill in basic life support condition. Scott Yurczyk, Battalion Chief with Seattle Fire Department, said that no other people in the building experienced medical effects. Furthermore there was no indication to what caused the reaction because there were no reports of fire or a chemical scent. There is a chemical business next door and a rail yard behind the business, but Yurczyk reported they have checked those areas with no leads. SFD said it was unlikely the agent that caused the reaction came from inside the business because there are very few chemical products offered at the plumbing supply store. However, they are still ruling out causes. The SFD Hazmat team use 50 different detectors for different scenarios, and are currently in the process of narrowing it down to one. SFD reported that because only two people were affected and that there is a heavy breeze today, there is a low probability of finding the cause.

Crippling the US Without Firing a Shot: The Electrical Grid May Well Be The Next War’s Battlefield

power-grid-attackWe talk a lot about Peak Cheap Oil as the Achilles’ heel of the exponential monetary model, but the real threat to the quality of our daily lives would be a sustained loss of electrical power. Anything over a week without power for any modern nation would be a serious problem.

When the power goes out, everything just stops. For residential users, even a few hours begins to intrude heavily as melting freezers, dying cell phones, and the awkward realization that we don’t remember how to play board games nudge us out of our comfort zone.

However, those are just small inconveniences.

For industrial and other heavy users, the impact of even a relatively short outage can be expensive or even ghastly. Hospitals and people on life-assisting machinery are especially vulnerable. Without power, aluminum smelters face the prospect of the molten ore solidifying in the channels from which it must be laboriously removed before operations can be restarted.

Many types of nuclear power plants have to switch to back-up diesel generators to keep the cooling pumps running. And if those stop for any reason (like they run out of fuel), well, Fukushima gave us a sense of how bad things can get.

And of course banking stops, ATMs are useless, and gas stations cannot pump gas. Just ask the people of New Jersey in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

A blackout of a few hours results in an inconvenience for everyone and something to talk about.

But one more than a day or two long? Things begin to get a bit tense; especially in cities, and doubly so if it happens in the hot mid-summer months.

Anything over a week and we start facing real, life-threatening issues. National Geographic ran a special presentation, American Blackout, in October 2013 — it presented a very good progression covering exactly what a timeline of serious grid disruption would look and feel like. I recommend the program for those interested.

Grid Threats

We’re exploring this risk because there are a number of developments that could knock out the power grid for a week or more. They include a coronal mass ejection (CME), a nuclear electromagnetic pulse (EMP) device, a cascading grid failure, and malicious hacking or electronic attacks.

It’s the cyber-electronic front that’s especially concerning these days, as we depend so vitally on so many systems that operate completely dependent on computer controls.

Many critical manufacturing and power generation systems are especially vulnerable to such attacks, as the Stuxnet virus showed in Iran where it is believed to have ruined thousands of delicate uranium enrichment centrifuges by overriding their commands and causing them to literally spin themselves to pieces.

As one Peak Prosperity member recently wrote:

My great fear is not supersonic missiles, it’s a combined-arms cyber attack plus (as necessary) kinetic assault on the power grid, with the “calling card” being left pointing to some convenient domestic extremist group scapegoat.

The FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) released a report that suggested the US power grid could be knocked out for “weeks if not months” by taking out only 9 substations using a coordinated kinetic attack.

Given that one substation was actually assaulted by persons unknown last year:

In last April’s attack at PG&E Corp.’s Metcalf substation, gunmen shot 17 large transformers over 19 minutes before fleeing in advance of police. The state grid operator was able to avoid any blackouts.

The Metcalf substation sits near a freeway outside San Jose, Calif. Some experts worry that substations farther from cities could face longer attacks because of their distance from police. Many sites aren’t staffed and are protected by little more than chain-link fences and cameras.

So this power station assault actually happened. This whole thing isn’t just someone’s crazy dream.

(Source)

You can be certain that such concerns are very high on the list of things that the NSA worries about, and which it feels justify the use of whatever electronic eavesdropping may be necessary to guard against.

A widespread loss of the electrical grid for even one week would be devastating for a number of reasons. First the fuel refining, manufacturing, distribution and delivery systems would cease to function. After emergency generators are used to move and distribute what processed fuel is in the system, are only remaining fuel will be that brought into the country from other regions of the world.

Within a very short time, perhaps just days or hours of what is perceived to be a sustained loss of electrical power, the fuel system will be placed under emergency triage rationing — with hospitals, nuclear generation plants, the military, police and other emergency services consuming 100% of what’s available. Sorry, none for you.

With every additional day that the electricity is out the damage to the afflicted nation mounts.  Food, fuel, and water, become scarce and sanitation problems rapidly  accumulate.

Here’s the thing: cyber penetrations and outright kinetic attacks on US power grid elements have already happened. Given the extreme disruption that would result from any successful future attacks, you should have some personal preparations in place.

Our Woeful Grid

The US power grid, as a whole, is anything but modern and robust. Huge swaths of it were built decades ago. It remains largely a centralized generation and distribution system, one in which the failure of a remarkably few ‘nodes’ would be catastrophic.

It’s millions of miles of lines, utility poles, towers, substations and generating stations. Here’s a good, short description:

Today [2003], the US electric power grid serves about 125 million residential customers, 17.6 million commercial customers, and 775,000 industrial customers. These various categories of customers account, respectively, for about 37%, 36%, and 27% of electricity consumption annually.

Electricity is produced at large power plants typically located in remote areas and delivered into high-voltage transmission lines that transport it across long distances to regional and neighborhood substations, where the voltage is stepped down to a current that can be used in homes and offices and fed into a local distribution grid.

Between 1949 and 1973, electricity use in the United States grew at an average annual rate of 8.3%, and the system was able to meet that demand with only sporadic difficulty. Even with rising prices after 1973, electricity use grew at an average annual rate of 2.5% in the years from 1973 to 2006. The growth rate projected for the next 20 years is comparatively flat.

The electric grid encompasses both transmission and distribution (T&D) power grids. The transmission system spans more than 160,000 miles (257,000) of high-voltage transmission lines and connects over 750 GW of electricity-generating capacity with local and regional demand centers across the nation. In addition, the electricity distribution system, which consists of smaller, lower-voltage distribution lines that deliver power from substations and transformers to customers, encompasses 6 million miles (9.6 million) of wire and cable spread across roughly 500,000 circuits and linked to the national transmission system by about 60,000 substations.

(Source) http://www.brooksidestrategies.com/resources/origins-and-evolution-of-th…

The substations circled in green in the image above are the most vulnerable points in the system.

The alternative to this mass of interconnected wires would be a decentralized, smart grid involving a very large number of small generating ‘stations’ where thousands of failures would be required to cause a sustained loss of power for millions.

But currently?

The loss of just nine critical substations could mean a catastrophic loss of power for up to 18 months. What the country would look like after that, and whether such an insult could be recovered from is an open question.

U.S. Risks National Blackout From Small-Scale Attack

The U.S. could suffer a coast-to-coast blackout if saboteurs knocked out just nine of the country’s 55,000 electric-transmission substations on a scorching summer day, according to a previously unreported federal analysis.

The study by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission concluded that coordinated attacks in each of the nation’s three separate electric systems could cause the entire power network to collapse, people familiar with the research said.

A small number of the country’s substations play an outsize role in keeping power flowing across large regions. The FERC analysis indicates that knocking out nine of those key substations could plunge the country into darkness for weeks, if not months.

A memo prepared at FERC in late June for Mr. Wellinghoff before he briefed senior officials made several urgent points. “Destroy nine interconnection substations and a transformer manufacturer and the entire United States grid would be down for at least 18 months, probably longer,” said the memo, which was reviewed by the Journal. That lengthy outage is possible for several reasons, including that only a handful of U.S. factoriesbuild transformers.

(Source)

The Us grid consists of three big regions, and is designed in such a way that the failure of just a few critical components would drag the whole thing down.

Again, that insult could be a deliberate attack, an EMP device, a CME, or even a squirrel on the wrong transformer on a hot day that leads to a cascading series of failures.

These vulnerabilities could be addressed, but the main point of this report is to note that over the years since they’ve been identified they mostly have not been addressed.

Does all of this seem too unlikely to worry about? Well, you might want to consider that we only recently learned that a massive CME narrowly missed the earth in 2012, the exact sort of threat we covered in great detail in a past podcast with a NASA scientist:

Carrington-class CME Narrowly Misses Earth

May 2, 2014

The close shave happened almost two years ago. On July 23, 2012, a plasma cloud or “CME” rocketed away from the sun as fast as 3000 km/s, more than four times faster than a typical eruption. The storm tore through Earth orbit, but fortunately Earth wasn’t there. Instead it hit the STEREO-A spacecraft. Researchers have been analyzing the data ever since, and they have concluded that the storm was one of the strongest in recorded history. “It might have been stronger than the Carrington Event itself,” says Baker.

The Carrington Event of Sept. 1859 was a series of powerful CMEs that hit Earth head-on, sparking Northern Lights as far south as Tahiti. Intense geomagnetic storms caused global telegraph lines to spark, setting fire to some telegraph offices and disabling the ‘Victorian Internet.” A similar storm today could have a catastrophic effect on modern power grids and telecommunication networks.

(Source)

How much did this storm miss us by? About one week. If the earth had been just 7/365 (1.9%) further along in its path, an entire hemisphere would have gotten shellacked. And, oh by the way, do any of you recall hearing of any warnings from NASA or other government bodies in 2012 that such a blast was headed our way and how closely it missed us by?

Me neither. So perhaps we shouldn’t count on getting an official warning in the future either.

Conclusion (Part 1)

The main conclusion here is that you should be at least moderately prepared for a sustained electricity outage, at least to the same degree that you carry fire insurance on your property. Both are remote — but catastrophic — events where a little advance preparation can go a long way.

In Part 2: Reducing Your Risk To A Grid-Down Event we reveal the vulnerabilities mostly likely to cause prolonged outages of the national power grid: cyber attacks. The current system in the US has a disconcerting number of failure points that can — and are, the data shows — being targeted by malicious agents.

More important, we lay out the specific steps concerned individuals should take at the home level to have backup support and protection should the grid go down. The cost of such preparation is very low compared to the huge magnitude of this low-probability, but highly disruptive, risk.

Click here to read Part 2 of this report (free executive summary, enrollment required for full access)