Protecting Underground Infrastructure Through Manhole Security

In today's society, it's more important than ever that our cities do everything possible to protect themselves and their citizens from attacks on infrastructure: above ground and below.

Recent stories in the news have shown us all how important it is for our cities to improve their underground infrastructure security.

In New York recently, a state appeals court ruled that the Port Authority was liable for damages caused by the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. The reason: the Port Authority knew about, but chose to ignore, “an extreme and potentially catastrophic vulnerability that would have been open and obvious to any terrorist who cared to investigate and exploit it.”

The Feb. 26, 1993 blast was set off by Islamic militants who detonated explosives in a van they drove into the underground parking garage, killing six people and injured almost 1,000 others, foreshadowing the attack that brought down the towers and killed nearly 3,000 people on 9/11.

In July 1985, an outside engineering consultant issued a report saying that it was not only possible but “probable” that there would be an attempt to bomb the World Trade Center, and that it was “highly vulnerable through the parking lot underground.” The court noted that in November 1985, a Port Authority study group, the Office of Special Planning, described a scenario eerily similar to the actual bombing, in which “a time bomb-laden vehicle could be driven into the W.T.C. and parked in the public parking area.”

In Philadelphia, a graduate school student this year was awarded a multi-million dollar settlement after plunging 18 feet into an open manhole and breaking his back. For 10 years, homeless men had been removing the manhole covers, yet nothing had been done until the fateful accident.

Back in New York City, Wall Street recently upgraded their underground infrastructure security by installing manhole barrier devices below manhole covers to improve the infrastructure security underground.

“It’s just too easy for terrorists, vandals to gain access to the underground,” said Mike Manoussos chairman and CEO of Manhole Barrier Security Systems Inc. “All the major cities in this country must begin to focus on the security of our underground infrastructure, and that begins with recognizing the threat and vulnerability to our cities underground infrastructure and by securing our cities’ manholes in order to prevent the life-lines of our cities, such as telecommunications and utility lines, from being vulnerable to attacks. Something must be done before we learn from another lesson.”

Manhole Barrier Security Systems Inc. (MBSS) was established in 2001. The flagship product of MBSS is the manhole barrier device, a self-contained and easy-to-use manhole locking cover that secures the manhole access points.

A report on manhole security by a former commissioner of the U.S. President's Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection predicts a manhole attack will knock-out power and communications collateral in a terrorist scheme. The report examines the underground critical infrastructure and assets, and the corresponding threats and damages, and concludes that tier one and two manholes should be secured.

Last year, Congress passed legislation recognizing the vulnerability of manholes and the subterranean infrastructure. Likewise, the United States Conference of Mayors passed a resolution – Protecting City Critical Assets, Underground Infrastructure and Manhole Security - recognizing the threat to and vulnerability of our underground infrastructure, such as telecommunications and utilities – the life-lines of U.S. cities.

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