FBI Charges NOAA Worker With Swiping Data on Dams
Sherry Chen's arrest raises security concerns
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Oct 22, 2014 11:23 AM CDT
This June 1, 2011, file photo shows Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River in Washington state.   (AP Photo/Nicholas K. Geranios)

(Newser) – A worker at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has been arrested and charged with stealing data on US dams, which Dayton Daily News reports carries "deep security implications" for the nation's power grid. Xiafen "Sherry" Chen has also been accused of lying to federal officials about her activities. She faces up to 25 years in prison, Reuters notes, along with $1 million in fines. According to an FBI press release, Chen "illegally accessed restricted areas" of a federal database and "downloaded sensitive files from the National Inventory of Dams" in 2012.

Last year, Chen, a hydrologist who works in Wilmington, Ohio, allegedly provided investigators with false information. Also in 2013, US officials reported hacking into a database in question, allegedly by Chinese government spies, the Daily News reports. The National Inventory of Dams contains power-grid information, including thousands of dams nationwide whose failure could result in economic loss or loss of human life, the Daily News notes. As to any links between the cases, "you can draw your own conclusions; I can't comment on that," says a federal prosecutor. Chen, who was arrested at work, is said to be a naturalized US citizen.