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FBI: 'No specific, credible threats' to drinking water

From Karla Crosswhite-Chigbue
CNN Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The FBI said Wednesday there are "no specific, credible threats" to the nation's drinking water at this time.

Ronald Dick, director of the FBI's National Infrastructure Committee, told a House subcommittee hearing that the nation's water supply may seem to be a logical target for a terrorist attack.

"In reality, targeting the water supply may prove difficult," said Dick. "To contaminate a water supply with a hazardous industrial chemical, it would take truck loads of chemical to have any effect."

Dick also said that "contamination of a water reservoir with a biological agent would likely not produce a large risk to public health because of the dilution effect, filtration and disinfection of the water."

But Dick added that "while there are no specific threats, due to the vital importance of water to all life forms, the FBI considers all threats to attack the water supply as serious."

Mike Parker, assistant secretary of the Army, told the House Transportation and Infrastructure panel that risk is everywhere and impossible to eliminate entirely.

"The subject of this hearing has been posed in the form of a question: 'Terrorism: Are America's Water Resources and Environment at Risk?' and the answer can only be a reluctant sobering, yes," he said.

A representative of the nation's water utilities said Congress needed to spend $5 billion to both improve water infrastructure and protect wastewater plants.

John Sullivan of the Boston Water and Sewer Commission testified that since September 11 the nation's drinking water utilities have been on a heightened state of alert to protect against the potential disruption of water service and biological or chemical contamination of drinking water.

Sullivan's group is a nonprofit organization representing the nation's largest publicly owned water utilities, which provide drinking water to about 160 million people.


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