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Protecting the Water Supply PUBLIC ACCESS

ASME ITI and American Water Works Association Develop a RISJ and Resilience Standard.

Mechanical Engineering 132(01), 34-36 (Jan 01, 2010) (3 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2010-Jan-3

This article highlights various features of risk and resilience standard developed by the ASME-ITI and American Water Works Association. The American Water Works Association and ASME Innovative Technologies Institute have jointly developed an American National Standard to enhance the security and resilience of drinking water and wastewater systems. The ASME-ITI, under the Department of Homeland Security’s sponsorship, initiated discussions with the water sector to consider the development of sector-level guidance based on RAMCAP Plus. The RAMCAP Plus process is composed of seven interrelated analytic steps, which provides a foundation for data collection and interpretation, analysis, and decision making valuable for understanding and managing risk and resilience. The process is designed to guide the selection of options that reduce risk and increase resilience, including informing funding decisions. The joint standard fulfils the need identified in the water sector-specific plan. It facilitates the reduction of risk and the enhancement of resilience at water and wastewater systems across America.

Oklahoma City, September 11, Hurricane Katrina, the I-35 Bridge collapse— all represent turning points in the growing awareness of critical infrastructures in the United States. Each event is an instance in which a degree of security or safety previously taken for granted proved inadequate.

Leaders of private organizations and at all levels of government have become increasingly concerned over the vulnerability and resilience of the systems on which our prosperity and our lives depend. In response to this concern, the American Water Works Association and ASME Innovative Technologies Institute have jointly developed an American National Standard to enhance the security and resilience of one of the key supports for life and health in the United States—drinking water and wastewater systems.

The attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Building in 1995 brought home the reality that large-scale, lethal terrorism could strike the United States. The realization that, yes, it can happen here spawned several presidential directives seeking to reduce the vulnerability of our critical infrastructures, including the water sector. Activities in response to those directives laid the foundation for later risk assessments after the coordinated attacks of September 11, 2001.

Congress enacted the Bioterrorism Act of 2002, requiring all drinking water systems that serve more than 3,300 people to conduct vulnerability assessments. Several assessment tools were developed, and the majority of utilities employed one of two risk-based tools, the Vulnerability Self Assessment Tool, produced by Scientech and PA Consulting, or Risk Analysis Methodology for Water, developed by Sandia National Laboratories. The assessments guided the utilities to enhance their security, and the assessments were transmitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, where they are kept in secure facilities.

After the 9/11 attacks, asme convened more than one hundred industry leaders at the request of the White House to define and prioritize the requirements for protecting the nation's critical infrastructure. The leaders’ primary recommendation was to create a common risk analysis and management process to support decisions that would allocate resources for risk reduction within an industry and among different industries.

This support would necessitate common terminology, common metrics, and consistent processes—tailored to the technologies, practices, and cultures of the respective industries—to permit direct comparisons within and across industries, and across time to measure progress and mark emerging hazards. Such direct comparisons were seen as essential to making rational decisions of where to spend limited private and public resources to meet the risks faced by critical infrastructures.

In response to this recommendation, asme recruited a team of distinguished risk analysis experts from industry and academia to develop the Risk Analysis and Management for Critical Asset Protection process. This process, now known by the registered trademark name ramcap Plus, originally consisted of a seven-step methodology that enables asset owners to perform analyses of their risks and risk-reduction options relative to specific malevolent attacks.

In 2005, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security initiated development of sector-specific guidance documents based on RAMCAP for various national assets including nuclear power plants, petroleum refineries, and water and wastewater systems. Close on the heels of the 2005 hurricane tragedies along the Gulf Coast, the 2006 version of the Department of Homeland Security's National Infrastructure Protection Plan broadened the definition of the concerns to include natural hazards, which all later RAM-CAP Plus documents have incorporated.

Kevin M. Morley is security and preparedness program manager of the American Water Works Association. Jerry P. Brashear is a Senior Fellow of ASME Innovative Technologies Institute, LLC.

When the water sector developed its sector-specific plan, the goals included improving identification of vulnerabilities, threats, and consequences so utility owners and operators could implement risk-based approaches to enhance security and resilience of their assets. ASME ITI, under the Department of Homeland Security's sponsorship, initiated discussions with the water sector to consider the development of sector-level guidance based on RAMCAP Plus.

The water sector decided that it needed a method to address natural as well as man-made hazards, and resilience as well as risk. Resilience is the ability to withstand hazards without incurring loss of service or, if some loss of service cannot be avoided, to restore it in an acceptably short time. The sector also wanted to adapt the Risk Analysis Methodology for Water and the Vulnerability Self Assessment Tool to work with RAMCAP Plus. This would allow sector owners and operators to use their prior work and data in updating their assessments. With these design specifications, a year-long project yielded a series of reports describing the RAMCAP Plus process for the water sector and roadmaps for using the older tools.

With the success of that project, AWWA and ASME ITI—both accredited as standards development organizations by the American National Standards Institute— joined to develop a voluntary consensus standard to enable water utilities and risk management professionals to apply the RAMCAP Plus process consistently. In early 2009, AWWA and ASME ITI initiated the process to prepare a standard that embodies man-made and natural hazards, and risk and resilience concepts, tailored to issues commonly faced by the water sector.The standards committee included the developers of ramcap Plus and of the two earlier tools, as well as several members from utilities, engineering consulting firms, and the general public.

RAMCAP Plus is a process for analyzing and managing the risks and resilience associated with malevolent attacks and naturally occurring hazards against critical infrastructure. When adapted to the water sector, it provides a consistent, efficient, and technically sound methodology to identify, analyze, quantify, and communicate the level of risk and resilience, and the benefits and costs of options for risk reduction and resilience enhancement.

The standard proposes specific threat scenarios. Use of these scenarios, along with standard definitions of terms and metrics, and a common process are essential to maintaining comparability with other risk-analysis projects. Comparability of analyses, together with the quantification of risks, resilience, and benefits, can provide a practical foundation upon which to base resource allocation decisions. Analyses are comparable in terms of fatalities, injuries, economic losses, and speed of recovery. Because of the quantitative rigor and consistency in estimation, the results of the evaluation can also be used by the utilities to inform other planning processes and to measure their progress over time on security and resilience. The results of consistent analyses are comparable across the water sector and also across all other critical infrastructure sectors using the same process.

Project Seeks to Enhance Security of Radioactive Materials By J. William Jones

More than 21,000 medical, industrial, and academic facilities in the U.S. are licensed to use radioactive materials, and there are many more similar sites around the world. They use the materials for various purposes, including medical and veterinary treatments, industrial applications, and academic research.

But there is concern that the nuclear materials can be used for sinister purposes. It may be possible that, if they fall into the wrong hands, the materials can be used in radioactive dispersal devices, so-called dirty bombs, or be released into the environment by other means. Under extreme conditions they could potentially cause fatalities, serious injuries, and environmental damage, which could require costly decontamination or abandonment of valuable locations.

ASME-ITI has received a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to develop a risk-based methodology to help identify and prioritize significant risk to the public from these radioactive materials, which are handled and regulated separately from those of nuclear power generation and nuclear weapons.

The vast majority of these materials are not useable as dirty bombs, and only in very large quantities are they especially dangerous in terrorist or accidental release. They are generally well protected, but when there are so many points of opportunity for something to go wrong, there is always risk, and it is the purpose of the project to identify the risks and the steps to meet them.

The events of September 11, 2001, heightened the nation's concerns regarding the use of radioactive materials in a malevolent act. Such an attack has been of particular concern because of the widespread use of radioactive materials (often contained in sealed sources) in the United States and abroad by industry, hospitals, and academic institutions. Loss or theft of such materials could lead to their diversion for malicious use.

ASME-ITI is currently developing a methodology that will satisfy the regulatory handling and reporting requirements of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission as well as provide a framework for a voluntary standard that will meet the requirements of the Department of Homeland Security to safeguard this material and to allow risk to be compared against risks in other economic sectors.

Essentially, the project will find gaps or potential gaps in security and ways to make the system more secure. The methodology will be offered to users of medical, industrial, and academic nuclear facilities to assure that they adhere to best practices.

J. William (Bill) Jones is an ASME ITI Senior Fellow.

The RAMCAP Plus process is composed of seven interrelated analytic steps:

  • Asset Characterization: What are the critical assets?

  • Threat Characterization: What reasonably possible event can harm or disrupt them?

  • Consequence Analysis: What would the event cost in terms of human suffering or economic loss?

  • Vulnerability Analysis: Where are the assets most open to harm from an event?

  • Threat Assessment: What is the likelihood that an event will occur?

  • Risk/Resilience Assessment: Risk = Consequences x (Vulnerability x Threat). Resilience = Service Outage x (Vulnerability x Threat).

  • Risk/Resilience Management: What are the options to reduce risk sand increase resilience? What is the benefit/cost ratio of the options?

These steps provide a foundation for data collection and interpretation, analysis, and decision-making valuable for understanding and managing risk and resilience.The process is designed to guide the selection of options that reduce risk and increase resilience, including informing funding decisions. To reduce risk, an option must mitigate at least one of the three elements of riskconsequences, vulnerability, or the likelihood of occurrence. Enhancing resilience requires that the options reduce at least one of the three elements of resilienceservice denial, vulnerability, or likelihood. The value of these options is measured as the net benefit (benefits less life-cycle costs) and their financial efficiency is measured as their benefit/cost ratios (net benefits divided by investment). Such ranked options can be selected up to the constraint of the available budget.

At the time of this writing, the joint standard, ASME-ITI/ AWWAG431 RAMCAP Standard for Risk and Resilience Management of Water and Wastewater Systems, has been approved by the standards committee and the AWWA Standards Council, and is under review for approval by the boards of the respective sponsoring organizations, whose decision is expected early in 2010. Current plans call for extensive training of water utility personnel and engineering professionals in the use of the process. A conformity assurance program is under evaluation.

The joint standard fulfills the need identified in the water sector-specific plan. It facilitates the reduction of risk and the enhancement of resilience at water and wastewater systems across America. Indeed, the standard can benefit the security and resilience of water and wastewater systems globally.

Copyright © 2010 by ASME
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