War on Terrorism

Friday, November 17, 2006

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News- November 17, 2006

November 17, 2006

Hospitals get serious practice

“At about 9 a.m. Thursday officials at Victor Valley Community Hospital [in California] received a transmission saying a biological weapon had been released through the misting system at the Hyundai Pavilion during a concert, in an apparent
terrorist attack... possibly from an aerosolized botulism, said hospital spokesman Ray Marien.. [This was] part of the statewide Golden Guardian drill, designed to test emergency preparedness across the board... Haz Mat team members from the Victorville Fire Department worked with hospital employees to conduct a mock decontamination, which would include stripping down, being sprayed with cold water and putting on special suits before entering the hospital.” The Daily Press; 17Nov06; Katherine Rosenberg)

VaxGen gets extension for anthrax vaccine

“VaxGen said it received a letter from the Department of Health and Human Services Wednesday pushing the deadline [for delivering a vaccine suitable for clinical trials] back from Nov. 13 to Dec. 18. VaxGen was developing the vaccine under a contract with the federal government to provide 75 million doses for biodefense. In early November the Food and Drug Administration imposed a clinical hold on a phase 3 trial of the anthrax vaccine because the agency deemed VaxGen had not demonstrated the product would be stable enough for clinical testing. The next day HHS, which imposed the original Nov. 13 deadline, informed VaxGen it would consider canceling the contract for the vaccine if the company did not resolve the clinical hold.” (United Press International; 16Nov06)


Firm punished for ‘biological weapons’ export

“Japan's trade ministry said on Friday it had punished a Tokyo-based trading firm for illegally exporting to North Korea a device that could be used to produce biological weapons. The ministry said the Meisho Yoko trading firm, run by an ethnic pro-Pyongyang Korean, exported a single freeze dryer to North Korea via Taiwan without approval from the trade ministry in September 2002. Under the punitive measures announced on Friday, the firm and its president will be barred from exporting goods for eight months from November 24, the ministry said... An increasing number of firms in Japan have been investigated in recent years on suspicion of illegally exporting such machinery to North Korea.” (IOL; 17Nov06)

MEPs [Members of the European Parliament] call for full compliance on the prohibition of biological weapons

“In adopting a joint resolution on the Convention on the Prohibition of Biological and Toxin Weapons (BTWC), cluster bombs and conventional arms, MEPs underline that the objective of the European Union should be to build on the success of the BTWC regime, to further strengthen the BTWC and to promote a successful outcome to the Sixth Review Conference... MEPs call on the Council and Commission to promote full compliance with the obligations under the BTWC and, where necessary, strengthening of national implementation measures, including penal legislation and control over pathogenic micro-organisms and toxins in the framework of the BTWC.”
(European Parliament Press Release; 16Nov06)


Mustard gas consolidated at Umatilla [Oregon]

“Workers at Umatilla Chemical Depot have moved nearly 5 million pounds of mustard gas to a new home, the warfare agent's second relocation in five years. The
U.S. Army chemical weapons depot, west of Hermiston, has 2,635 ‘ton containers’ full of distilled mustard, or HD... Since [September, 2001], an incinerator plant at the depot has destroyed more than 91,000 rockets armed with sarin nerve gas, which were stored in igloos in a separate, more secure area... Between Sept. 11 and Nov. 9, crews moved the mustard gas containers into the igloos that had held sarin rockets, consolidating all the depots arms into one, highly secure area, said spokesman Bruce Henrickson. The gas's new home is also closer to the incinerator, which is scheduled to destroy the blister agent starting in 2009 or 2010.” (The Oregonian; 17Nov06)

Senate action could secure $140 million

“An action of the Senate on Wednesday could help secure $140 million for the chemical demilitarization process at Kentucky and Colorado storage facilities. The original request was for $130 million, but Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell submitted a successful amendment that added an extra $10 million to the Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives (ACWA) program. The funding came after the passage of the 2007 Military Construction, Military Quality of Life and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act... Williams and his organization have closely followed the demilitarization process and serve as a community watchdog to ensure the weapons are destroyed safely and as soon as possible... If adequate funding continues to be provided, construction is scheduled to be completed in 2011 at the Richmond [Kentucky] site and 2010 in Colorado.” (Richmond Register; 17Nov06; Ronica Shannon)

U.S. Army Could Benefit From Foreign Technologies for Faster Destruction of Recovered Chemical Weapons

“To facilitate destruction of buried chemical warfare materiel, the
U.S.Army should consider adopting a faster and more efficient technology -- such as one of those currently used in Europe or Japan -- to complement the ones it currently uses, says a new report from the National Research Council. The new technique would be used primarily to destroy whole chemical munitions from large burial sites, said the committee that wrote the report... The report looks at technologies that can destroy entire munitions -- rockets, land mines, mortars, and projectiles -- and those that can handle only chemical agents, such as nerve and blister agents... Since the early 1990s, the United States has been destroying chemical warfare materiel recovered from burial sites to meet an April 2007 deadline specified by the Chemical Weapons Convention... The technologies investigated by the committee could help eliminate these recovered weapons more quickly and efficiently than methods currently used in the United States.” (National Academies of Science Press Release; 16Nov06)

Dor makes ground with ricin vaccine

“Dor BioPharma has announced it has made progress with the formulation of RiVax, a new drug that could be the world’s first vaccine for the deadly ricin toxin. The Florida-based company said it has found the conditions for maintaining long-term stability and optimisation of the formulation of RiVax... The ricin A chain is very fragile and difficult to maintain structurally in water-based solutions that are commonly used for human vaccines, so the company said it has added compounds to solutions of protein to stabilise the structure, by preventing the unfolding of protein during stress conditions such as heat... The urgency for protective countermeasures against ricin has been heightened by its recent and continued use as a biological weapon in both the United States and Europe.” (BioPharmaReporter.com; 16Nov06; Emilie Reymond)

Neurology [professor] wins grant to study seizures

“Neurology Prof. Jaideep Kapur [of the University of Virginia] has received a five-year, $2.3 million research grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke to fund his research in the treatment of nerve agent-induced seizures. The goal, Kapur said, is to help protect the civilian population against a bio-terror attack [sic].
Kapur said his research is focused mainly on the development of treatment after a chemical attack in the United States. Kapur said U.S. military forces are pretreated against the agents, and have a different process in place for treatment. If there were to be an attack, however, on the untreated civilian population, there is no efficient treatment strategy in place... Kapur and his team believes that nerve agent-induced seizure disorders affect the brain and respond to treatment in a similar manner to other types of long-term seizure disorders. Kapur said he will work toward improving existing treatments of non-nerve agent-caused disorders, and increase their success rates. The treatments then could be used toward the treatment of nerve agent-induced seizure disorders.” (The Cavalier Daily; 16Nov06; Missy Tacey)

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