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Security trailer deters theft, vandalism

 Two contract engineers and a Western employee stand alongside Western's new security trailer

David D’Anna, left, and Steven Koppenjan, right, senior engineers with the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Special Technologies Laboratory discuss capabilities of Western’s new security trailer with Headquarters-based Security Specialist Dan Hubert in the Headquarters parking lot in Lakewood, Colo., Aug. 27.

Story and photo by Leah Shapiro

Two senior engineers from the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Special Technologies Laboratory visited Western’s Headquarters office in Lakewood, Colo., Aug. 27-28 to test Western’s new security trailer, which is expected to be deployed this fall.

“The trailer is intended to deter copper theft and vandalism at substations and communication sites,” said Headquarters-based Security Specialist Dan Hubert. The trailer is equipped with the latest technology for detection and surveillance and is capable of sending alerts to multiple people and locations when there is a breach. Western personnel can then review video footage, or watch it in real time, to collect evidence to prosecute thieves.

The trailer is meant to go where there are security issues, theft or threats. Hubert believes the most valuable aspects of the trailer are “its flexibility to be used at all of Western’s sites along with the different cameras and configurations.”

The trailer was fully funded by the Department of Energy’s Office of Health, Safety and Security. The California-based engineers who tested the trailer and also provided training at Headquarters, David D’Anna and Steven Koppenjan, were members of the team that designed and built the trailer. They modeled it after a proven military platform used overseas. D’Anna shared, “We took extra precaution to ensure proper grounding since we knew it would be deployed in high-voltage areas.”

Koppenjan added, “Designing it to work in remote sites and be unmanned for long periods of time was a challenge.” D’Anna and Koppenjan spent about six months building the trailer. The trailer was designed to withstand the elements in any part of Western’s territory. Its mast can endure sustained winds up to 60 MPH and gusts that are much stronger. It was also designed to handle both extreme heat and cold.

The trailer is a stand-alone unit, which uses solar panels to help power itself, and can be set up in about an hour. D’Anna shared, “It’s surprisingly lightweight.”

Though Security is ultimately responsible for the trailer, it will require coordination between Maintenance, Information Technology and Safety.

Maintenance managers own the assets that the trailer will protect. They have the greatest knowledge of substation yards and communication sites and will be able to recommend the best placement for the trailer and assist with its set up.

Due to its technological capabilities, the trailer requires support from IT to operate on Western’s network.

Safety will work to create a safety plan outlining criteria such as grounding issues, and determining how close to bus work the trailer can be located.

The trailer will also help keep maintenance crews safe. When copper is stolen from sites, equipment can become ungrounded. This type of theft can create an unsafe environment and craft workers could be seriously injured if they don’t know about the damaged or potentially ungrounded equipment. The trailer, with its alerts and notifications, will help craft workers know when there’s an unsafe situation.

“The trailer’s state-of-the-art technology will help us combat recent and all-too-frequent theft and vandalism occurring within Western,” said Security and Emergency Manager Keith Cloud. “Also, the portability of the trailer is a cost-effective short-term solution—as opposed to setting up hard-wired fixtures at each facility. This trailer helps Western to respond quickly to incidents affecting our infrastructure.”