We Spent 12 Million Pounds for This?

Gotta stop reading news on the Innerwebs. The amount of goofy stuff going on in the world is making my head hurt. This morning, before my second cup of coffee, I found this online.

Let me get this straight. Twelve million pounds (almost $18 million, according to the exchange rate calculator on Yahoo) spent on the "most heavily guarded plant" in the U.K., and some guy just walks in and shuts down one of the turbines? All he did was cut through the barbed wire, electrified fence and walk through an unlocked door?

From the sound of it, "climate man" must have known something about the way the power plant was run. According to a spokeswoman for the plant, "It was about 10pm, very dark indeed. It looks from the CCTV like he came in via a very remote part of the site by the sea wall and got over the double layer of fences."

The intruder then crossed a car park and walked to an unlocked door. But instead of going to the power station's main control room, where about eight people would have been working, he headed for its main turbine hall, where no one would have been working at that time.

Within minutes, says E.On, "he had tampered with some equipment" - believed to be a computer at a control panel - "and tripped unit 2, one of the station's giant 500MW turbines".

No offense to the reporters at The Guardian, but there's got to be more to this story than they're telling right now.  There are pictures on the CCTV, but idea no who the guy is? Who was watching those screens? If the answer is "nobody," then why bother to install them in the first place? If the answer is "somebody," shouldn't he or she have done something besides just watch?

And why was the crucial door unlocked? That's seems like just sloppiness. Doesn't do any good to install sophisticated security if nobody is going to do the simplest things, such as locking doors.

This is scary stuff. And the station owner's comment that "It could be that no one has taken responsibility because they were so frightened by the noise it would have made. It's probably taken them a week just to get over the shock," stikes me as incredibly niave. They haven't come forward because they don't have to. You don't know who they are or where to find them. They broke in and shut down a turbine because they could.

I don't want to dump on British electrical producers. They didn't spend 12 million pounds for the heck of it. I'm sure they thought they had the best security they could buy for that amount of money. The fact is, the same thing could--all too easily-- have happened at a similar facility here.  

"It was extremely odd indeed, quite creepy. We have never known anything like this at all, but it shows that if people want to do something badly enough they will find a way," said Emily Highmore, a spokeswoman for E.On.  

You got it, Emily.

As for all you folks in charge of your process operation's security, how well are you sleeping tonight?

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