Here’s all you need to know about security for plants

Why should a plant be concerned with setting up its security measures?

Physical attacks on power plants are rare; to keep the risks low and disasters as low as ever, security for plants needs to be aligned with the national security strategies and implement emerging access control technologies. Manufacturers from the power generation industries should be concerned with setting up power plant security measures because plant sites that work with fossil fuels, combustion turbines and hydro or nuclear powers are identified as critical facilities with critical assets. Critical facilities are those where a security attack or risk would disable the electricity grid while producing a detrimental impact to people and society; thwarting the services for a large number of customers and for a longer time; or endanger public health and safety.

power plant
Power plants are often set near large bodies of water and important road infrastructure. Thus security should consider the geographical area.

Plant security measures implemented in power generation processes should also keep critical assets safe. The external power supply, environmental controls and communication infrastructures must be physically protected from the harsh environment, the high sensitivity areas, and the complex land architecture.

Apart from providing the physical security layers, power plant security designs need to tackle cybersecurity, as well as organizational, authorization and administrative concerns. The industry incident history has shown that the human factor plays an important role in power plant security. This is why manufacturers need to implement security measures for preventing unauthorized access to production premises and buildings, prevent physical damage to the equipment and safeguard confidential information from loss, theft, espionage, sabotage or other industrial crime.

What is the ideal security arrangement for a plant?

The ideal security for plant infrastructure is based on an electronic physical security system that offers an integrated information, access and authorization protection. Power plant security solutions should include electronic access control and video surveillance made in accordance with the highest industry specs and standards.

Having in mind that plant security must be adjusted to the land architecture, it should be based on several physical protection layers, including electronic access control with perimeter intrusion detection and video surveillance of critical assets.

Think of plant security in segments: protecting dams, turbines, and coal power stations will need a comprehensive system consisted of IP access control camera surveillance, strong sensor detectors and monitoring performed by armed staff.

power plant
‍Plant control towers can include standalone or integrated access control system

Administrative buildings may not require strict physical segregation, such as steel fences and doors, but they must enable a plant security plan to allow prompt threat assessment and immediate response. A strictly set “authorized personnel only’ central command area and a few separate command centers may have distributed security responsibilities. If we take nuclear power plants as an example, the reactor demands strongest security control and is in general centrally located for maximum safety.

A powered plant station should support the automated power generation system and report even the slightest concerns in several ways. For power plant, more is definitely more - an early warning and alarm system is crucial to act on time and prevent catastrophic events.

What are some of the unique points a plant should take note when setting up its security process?

Physical security specifications for power plant security are extremely complex. When setting up its security process, plants must examine several risk factors: risk segmentation, alternative power supply, landscape characteristics, as well as industry-specific equipment requirements.

To decentralize risk, overseeing of the site geography can be segmented in several access control systems run by a number of parallel networks.

It’s high-priority to enable an alternative external power supply system and secure it separately to be able to run operations and restore the power plant security even when the main electricity from the plant itself is cut off.

Since power plants are industrial facilities relying on natural resources, access control security for plants needs to support the environment by detecting landscape changes. Safeguarding from aerial threats is an added task, especially having in mind drone attacks.

Well-designed power-plant security plants always need to implement tailor-made solutions for substations or switchyards - they must not be left unattended even if the plant has a 24/7 surveillance system. Sometimes, the better option for substations is to have them incorporated in the overall access control system, On other occasions, they can have an extra standalone access control point. Peripheral security, including isolated high-voltage transmission lines and control towers need adequate risk mitigation strategy for the concrete plant.

Due to the high-risk and potentially disastrous consequences, savings are not a number-one impact factor for plant security.

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