WORLD / AMERICAS
‘Mainlines remain offline’ after ransomware attack
US pipeline struggles to reopen
Published: May 10, 2021 07:43 PM
The US government declared a regional emergency on Sunday as the largest fuel pipeline system in the US remained largely shut down, two days after a major ransomware attack was detected.

In this file photo taken on June 15, 2008, the main terminal at Washington Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Virginia. Colonial Pipeline, which suppliesDulles with jet fuel, said in a statement that on May 7, 2021, it was the victim of a cybersecurity attack and that in response it took its systems offline. Photo: VCG

In this file photo taken on June 15, 2008, the main terminal at Washington Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Virginia. Colonial Pipeline, which suppliesDulles with jet fuel, said in a statement that on Friday, it was the "victim of a cybersecurity attack" and that in response it took its systems offline. Photo: VCG

The Colonial Pipeline Company ships gasoline and jet fuel from the Gulf Coast of Texas to the populous East Coast through 8,850 kilometers of pipeline, serving 50 million consumers.

The company said it was the victim of a cybersecurity attack involving ransomware - attacks that encrypt computer systems and seek to extract payments from operators.

"This declaration addresses the emergency conditions creating a need for immediate transportation of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and other refined petroleum products and provides necessary relief," the Department of Transportation said in a statement.

The emergency declaration allows for fuel to be transported by road to the affected states: Alabama, Arkansas, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

The declaration also provides regulatory relief to commercial motor vehicle operations that are part of the emergency support efforts. Colonial said earlier Sunday that it had opened some smaller delivery lines, but the main system was not yet back up and running.

"While our mainlines remain offline, some smaller lateral lines between terminals and delivery points are now operational," Colonial said in a statement, adding it would "bring our full system back online only when we believe it is safe to do so."

"We have remained in contact with law enforcement and other federal agencies, including the Department of Energy who is leading the Federal Government response," it added. 

"Maintaining the operational security of our pipeline, in addition to safely bringing our systems back online, remain our highest priorities."

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told CBS on Sunday that authorities were working to prevent any disruption to supplies.

Colonial, based in the southern state of Georgia, is the largest pipeline operator in the US by volume, normally transporting 2.5 million barrels of gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel and other refined petroleum products per day.
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