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New law to beef up pipeline security

Spurred by the June 2 arrest of several men allegedly plotting to blow up a fuel pipeline connecting Queens airports, Governor Eliot Spitzer has announced that he has signed into law legislation that will beef up security procedures associated with the state’s petroleum links.
The legislation specifically addresses potential weaknesses in fueling networks servicing cities, airports, transmission systems and distribution points for petroleum, natural gas, and commercial aviation fuel.
“Protecting critical infrastructure from attack is a central component to our homeland security strategy,” said Spitzer. “The state’s extensive network of pipelines is vital to our economy and well being and must be carefully monitored and guarded.
This action complements earlier efforts by the State Office of Homeland Security (OHS) to review security at pipeline facilities.
Under existing law, OHS conducts site visits to natural gas and petroleum pipeline outlets throughout New York, and the petroleum industry has cooperated during such visits.
Under the new law, OHS will conduct physical inspections and evaluate security measures of the state’s essential transmission networks and submit a confidential preliminary report to the governor, Legislature, the State Public Service Commission (PSC), regulators, and the facilities’ respective owners by April 30, 2008. A full report will be completed by December 31 of next year. Subsequent reports will be submitted by December 31, 2011, and repeated in five-year intervals beginning in 2016.
The law also allows the PSC to implement the specific recommendations made by OHS.
“The jet fuel pipeline supplying [John F.] Kennedy (JFK) airport has already been the target of a terrorist plot,” said Senator Dean Skelos. “This new law will help strengthen the security of this important infrastructure and protect our communities.”
Abdel Nur, Kareem Ibrahim and Abdul Kadir, as well as alleged mastermind Russell Defreitas, are charged with trying to blow up JFK fuel tanks and the Buckeye Pipeline - which runs from Linden, N.J., through Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens and to the airport, and carries eight million gallons of fuel - in an attempt to cause massive devastation in the city.
Stephen R. Milbourne, a spokesperson for Buckeye, has said the company welcomes oversight.
“We are certainly very much interested in security,” he said. “We have been actively reviewing all of our systems after the incident on 9/11, as have all of the other pipeline companies. We cooperated fully with Homeland Security with respect to the incident at JFK … I think that we have taken all prudent measures to ensure security. We are not at all going to resist a state’s interest in reviewing security.”

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