San Bruno natural gas pipeline failure with 8 fatalities – clone of Bellingham?

The September 9th Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) natural gas pipeline failure that killed eight people in San Bruno, CA has eerie similarities to the June 1999 Olympic Pipeline Company Failure in Bellingham, WA that killed three people. The Bellingham event was a control system cyber incident.  With input from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Marshall Abrams from MITRE and myself performed the most comprehensive analysis of any control system cyber incident. (The details on Bellingham can be found in my book.)  Based on the Bellingham analysis, I have compared what we know from Bellingham with what has been disclosed to date on San Bruno.

Bellingham:
- SCADA and leak detection was on an Ethernet LAN
- SCADA had previous problems prior to the accident
- Construction impacted the structural integrity of the line months prior to the accident
- No SCADA cyber security training
- On the day of the incident, the SCADA system became inoperable and was unable to remotely monitor or control valves
- Operator displays didn’t indicate loss of SCADA functionality
- Leak detection system did not function in a timely manner

San Bruno:
- SCADA (not sure about leak detection) was on an Ethernet LAN
- Older SCADA system (do not have previous history)
- Previous construction impacted structural integrity of the line months prior to the accident
- No SCADA cyber security training
- On the day of the accident, PG&E was peforming work on the power supply system designed to ensure that electricity remains constant. Power failed immediately prior to the accident. Experts say its failure could have affected PG&E’s ability to monitor and regulate pressure in the 46-mile pipeline that ran through San Bruno. If the power supply was reestablished close to the time of the accident, it is not clear how that would affect the SCADA system including its operation and database refresh.
- Unclear what operator displays provided and if they were providing current data
- Reports are there was a gas smell in the San Bruno neighborhood prior to the accident - was leak detection working? 

Joe Weiss