All it took was a pair of bolt cutters and the elbow grease of a few climate activists to carry out an audacious act of sabotage on North America’s massive oil and gas pipeline system.

For an industry increasingly reliant on gadgets such as digital sensors, infrared cameras and drones to monitor security and check for leaks, the sabotage illustrated how vulnerable pipelines are to low-tech attacks.

On Tuesday, climate activists broke through fences and cut locks and chains simultaneously in several states and simply turned the pipelines off.

“You’re not manning these things on a permanent basis. It’s not viable,” said Stewart Dewar, a project manager at Senstar, an Ottawa-based company that authored a 2012 white paper on pipeline security. “It’s too expensive.”

 

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Photo via Shannon Patrick