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Sniper attack at California power plant video: Dry run for terrorists?

A sniper attack took out transformers at a California power station near San Jose bringing concerns that this was a "dry run" for terrorists. According to Fox News on Thursday Feb. 6, the video tape from the surveillance cameras at the station showed what looked like an organized attack as an attempt was made to take out certain transformers.

Sniper attack on power station raises concerns of terrorists having a dry run at the U.S. power grid.
Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

NPR News reports that the attack on the power station happened last April, but the concerns were raised this week after the Wall Street Journal gave a long account about what happened in the 52 minute attack at PG&E Corp's Metcalf transmission substation. This event received very little attention until this week.

The Wall Street Journal gives a synopsis of the events before going into detail just what occurred that early morning in April:

"The attack began just before 1 a.m. on April 16 last year, when someone slipped into an underground vault not far from a busy freeway and cut telephone cables."

"Within half an hour, snipers opened fire on a nearby electrical substation. Shooting for 19 minutes, they surgically knocked out 17 giant transformers that funnel power to Silicon Valley. A minute before a police car arrived, the shooters disappeared into the night."

"To avoid a blackout, electric-grid officials rerouted power around the site and asked power plants in Silicon Valley to produce more electricity. But it took utility workers 27 days to make repairs and bring the substation back to life."

At least 100 rounds were fired and there was at least one high powered riffle used. While it is unclear if this was a lone attacker or a group, the reason behind doing this is not known. The person or people who did this sniper attack were never found.

This attack seemed too synchronized to be just a spur of the moment idea. The police arrived and the culprit or culprits were gone, but they missed them just by a minute, the surveillance video suggests.

Since this attack, security of the nation's power stations were beefed up like aiming their cameras so there isn't any blind spots. While news of this attack was barely known by the public at the time, the nations power stations got into high gear with security measures.

Rebecca Smith from The Journal just told NPR's Audie Cornish:

"The attack "seems to have been the work of people who knew what they were doing. The evidence indicates that the sniper or snipers "methodically" shot at equipment that would disable the substation if damaged — but also would not explode. Then, 'one minute before police arrived, they faded into the night."'

If terrorist were ever able to wipe out the country's power grid, the country would be thrown into the dark ages when it comes to modern living, transportation and finances. What were these people practicing for, which is the question many ask today. Evidence shows they knew what they were doing and knew just how long they had to do this.

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