Could This Actually Be Done? [LSD in NYC's water supply as a terrorist plot]

Many years ago, it was speculated that terrorists could paralyze the USA by dropping LSD in to the NYC drinking water supply. The theory was, all the bankers, stocktraders, businessmen would be hallucinating all day and, being unable to function, would shut down the banks, stock markets, etc. This would cause a financial panic, and bring the US economy to a halt.
But could this actually be done? Suppose yopu have a 20ton truck, loaded with powdered LSD. For the sake of the arguement, A Queda has been synthesizing the stuff for years, in a secret Manhattan factory. So, you take a ride up the Taconic Parkway, and pull up to the Croton Reservoir…park the truck next to a pumping station (at the aqueduct going to NYC), and start shoveling in the LSD. Within hours, the stuff starts showing up in coffe, drinking water, orange juice, etc. How long before all of NYC is on an acid high? Is 20 tons enough?
And, would Mayor Bloomberg decide that LSD is really pretty good? :smiley:

It’s just impractical to move enough material to dope a major water supply without the authorities catching on. You would need something extremely powerful, and the things that would qualify would tip authorities off if you tried to make or buy them in sufficient quantities.

It would probably be feasible to pull an attack (or several) on smaller communities. The same goes for suicide bombings in small town malls and the like. So far we’ve been lucky that Al Qaida has a sense of melodrama, because it’s enabled us to unravel a lot of their plans. If and when they get smart and go for a Hezbollah-style campaign, we’re in crap up to our ears.

A) Shitty title.

B) How many New York ‘bankers, stocktraders, businessmen’ drink tapwater? Pure speculation, but I would guess that very few do so on a regular basis.

IIRC, LSD hydrolyzes pretty fast when you dissolve it in dirty water. I’m sure that the algae in a reservior would view the stuff as a convenient nitrogen source.
Dropping a few gallons of radiactive cobalt chloride into the pump inlets would likely cause a bigger, and more expensive, disruption.

I’ve heard stories that some young radicals in the '60s toyed with the idea of putting LSD into urban water supplies. But nobody ever tried it, because they found out that in an open environment LSD breaks down too quickly. The tap water would just be tap water. (Whether any of this is true I do not know – I guess it would be a GQ question.)

In the 1968 American International Pictures film Wild in the Streets, Max Frost (Christopher Jones), a popular young rock star, is running for president on a power-to-the-young platform. He needs a constitutional amendment to change the constitutional provision that says you have to be at least 35 to be president, and to lower the voting age to (I think) 14. He has enough support from grownups that the amendment is in the pipeline, but it has to be approved by a two-thirds vote of Congress – an unlikely prospect. (The film glosses over the fact that it would next have to be approved by the legislatures of three-fourths of the states.) On the day the amendment comes to the floor for a vote, we see Frost and his crew emptying gallon jugs of LSD into a Washington reservoir (the Reflecting Pool, actually – but hey, it’s just a comedy). Cut to the floor of the House, where we see all the Congresscritters laughing hysterically and rolling on the floor. The amendment passes.

If only.

Jesus, do you write for comic books? That is the most absurdly overcomplicated, ineffectual plan for terrorism that I’ve ever heard. Neverminding the chemistry behind it, or the immense difficulty and expense of producing that much LSD (even if the chemistry DID work), the net effect would be vastly underwhelming and it would be noticed almost instantly, which isn’t good for a plan that takes several decades to inact.

I still say that the absolute best terrorist act would be to bomb the security checkpoints at two major airports. This can be accomplished with two people, two simple, dirty bombs, and a very short period of time. Even better if you’re using suicide bombers. This would totally shut down the entire air traffic system for a few days, and leave an absolutely open ended “how do we prevent this” question - security checkpoints for security checkpoints?

I flew out of Vegas last weekend, and there were hundreds of people in a nice little winding line like you see at Disneyland. Absolutely no security checkpoints before the line, which was for security checking. I could have walked in with a large bomb (or two) in luggage, walked into the middle of the line, and instantly killed several dozen people, possible injured hundreds, and thrown the entire system into absolute anarchy.

Seriously, why do you have to be so complex about plotting?

BTW, the way to prevent my proposed terrorist attack scenario would be to use single-file straight lines. Maybe some bomb-sniffing dogs. It would take a lot more space, but it would limit casualties a great deal. Just another inconvenience we’d have to work around.

It would be much, much better to use some super strong poison on all those stock- market mother f******!

A single day’s disruption to the NYSE is hardly likely to cause catastrophe. Heck, the NYSE was shut down for weeks following Sept. 11, yet the economy hums along. There simply isn’t any truly crucial central focal point in the United States without which the nation would collapse.

Now, a well-placed megadose of some serious drugs introduced into the power centres of some of your more dictatorial Middle-East nations… that’d be fun.

What I find frightening is zillions of tripping algae running around loose, probably stealing cars, driving up to Albany and, God forbid, doing something awful, like passing a state budget.

If I were an Al Qaeda leader, I’d stick with transportation. Simultaneous explosions on major freeways and NYC subways, especially during rush hour, would work - they’re obviously too massive for proper security.

9/11 would be difficult to replicate today, but that’s beside the point. What could be more intimidating than a looming threat of death in transit to Joe and Jill Average?

Imagining that such a plot would be logistically feasible and would offer the desired effect, all I can deduce as a potential result is that all of those bankers, stocktraders, and businessmen would find it a nice change from their usual cocoaine high.

Quite aside from the fragility of LSD in that kind of environment, if you got the entirety of New York City tripping on LSD, the majority of the people would still be quite capable of pragmatic functionality.

Lots of them would be having profound insights. Lots of them would be giggling and cackling. The talkative ones would be talking up a storm, probably, with even more of a tendency to move in a nonlinear trajectory from topic to topic, but could still answer questions and think in a cogent fashion about what you asked them. The cabbies would mostly still be able to drive, probably less tempermentally, though there’d be a serious risk of them driving you safely to Pittsburgh while talking about the cosmic implicatons of stem cell research instead of delivering you to your West 63rd Street destination.

I’m sure there’d be a few who would not handle it well, and to varying degrees their actions would be disruptive. But mostly not.

After all, we’re talking New York City dwellers here. The first five minutes of seeing the bricks in the brick buildings do a shimmy dance might be disconcerting or enthralling but then everyone would shrug and accept that today the bricks are doing shimmy dances, which joins the long long march of odd things New Yorkers get to see and bring up later in the course of saying “I thought I’d seen it all”

Like Robin Williams once said:

Throw them, not the atom bomb, but the Atom Bong!!!

Yeah, at one point I made clear that a great way to absolutely disrupt the federal government would be to drop the bridges across the Potomac into the Potomac. Pentagon and CIA employees and contractors from the District and Maryland wouldn’t be able to get to work. All sorts of federal (all three branches) who lived in Maryland wouldn’t be able to get to work.

You laugh…you say ‘What’s the difference? They don’t work anyway!’ I hear…but it would slow things down 50-75% and putting together some sort of response would be a real headache.

Some nitpicks I think that would actually conspire to end such a attack:

1 - Trucks are not allowed on the TSP, which would give a chance of the truck being stopped by police.

2 - Real New Yorks know not to drink NYC water anyway. It use to be 1st class but over the years it has gone down. Perhaps it would be absorbed during showers, but then again a lot of workers in NYC live outside the NYC water drinking area. Perhaps their morning cup of starbuck, or if they are really concerned with good taste when it comes to coffee, Dunkin Donuts might deliver a strong enough of a dose.


Perhaps not directly, but they do drink coffee from restaurants and bars, don’t they?

Moderator’s Note: Thread title edited for clarity.

Where did this idea that New Yorkers don’t dring tap water come from? Except for some sections of Queens (and that has greatly improved recently), NYC has some of the cleanest best tasting drinking water there is.
I’ll let you in on a secret. Many of us will buy water when we’re out in the street (we don’t have public water fountains on the sidewalk and store owners don’t give anything away) and then we take that bottle home and fill it with tap water for easy freezing and transportation.
Seriously, I can’t think of a single person I know who drinks bottled water exclusively.

Biggirl With all due respect NYC tap water sux the big one, Ive had it many times. I don’t know what they do with it once they leave the Catskills, but I suspect it has something to do w/ the bagel lobby.

I think that Atlantic Beach and maybe Long beach also use the NYC water supply and it tastes better then NYC water. Lido Beach and Pt Lookout into the lowermost (lyoid?) aquifer which is suppose to be a very good watersource which is rarely tapped on LI but add chemicals to stop the pipes from rusting which also effects the taste. Fire Island uses the water direct and has some of the best water in my humble O

Taste is subjective. Scientific American shows just how subjective.


Don’t belive the hype.

Now I’m wondering, would NYC tap water taste better or worse with LSD in it?