FBI Investigating Pipe Bomb-like Devices Found on National Grid Lines in Massachusetts

April 1, 2016
Several pipe bomb-like devices were found on National Grid’s transmission system in Massachusetts on March 30, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The FBI says that it is investigating several pipe bomb-like devices found on National Grid’s transmission system in Massachusetts on March 30.

Harold Shaw, special FBI agent in charge, said that multiple “incendiary” devices were discovered around 3 p.m. in Tyngsboro, a town of about 11,000 people, which is 28 miles from Boston on the New Hampshire state line.

The devices were found when the Tyngsboro Fire Department responded to a brush fire in the area. Firefighters noticed items that didn’t appear to be part of the transmission system. They then alerted National Grid, which provides electricity to about 3.4 million customers in the Northeast.

After assessing the situation, National Grid alerted law enforcement officials.

Both Massachusetts State Police and FBI Special Agent Bomb technicians responded. The devices were non-explosive and have been rendered safe, according to the FBI.

“Our law enforcement partners, as well as utility companies across the country, have been notified. We continue to share information regarding the incident,” Shaw said in a statement released by the FBI.

The incident occurred as officials become increasingly concerned about grid security. A sniper attack on a substation in San Jose, California in 2013 remains under investigation. Homeland Security also has sounded the alarm about possible cyberterrorism on the grid following attempts to hack energy and utility infrastructure.

The Tyngsboro Police and Fire Departments, along with the Massachusetts State Police, Massachusetts Department of Fire Services and ATF are assisting the FBI, which is now leading the investigation.

At this point in time, there is no evidence which ties this incident to terrorism, the FBI said.

National Grid said in a prepared statement that it is working with law enforcement authorities on the issue.  The transmission system is secure, operating normally and there is no effect on service to customers, the utility said.

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Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is an award-winning writer and editor who specializes in the energy industry. She is chief editor and co-founder of Microgrid Knowledge and serves as co-host of the publication’s popular conference series. She also co-founded RealEnergyWriters.com, where she continues to lead a team of energy writers who produce content for energy companies and advocacy organizations.

She has been writing about energy for more than two decades and is published widely. Her work can be found in prominent energy business journals as well as mainstream publications. She has been quoted by NPR, the Wall Street Journal and other notable media outlets.

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