War on Terrorism

Thursday, January 10, 2008

ChemBio Weapons and WMD Terrorism News- January 9, 2008

New York Presses To Deploy More Bioweapons Sensors

“[New York] City officials last month quietly activated some of the nation's newest generation of early warning sensors to detect a
biological attack, turning on a limited number of filing-cabinet-size air filters in sensitive, high-volume areas of Manhattan. But city officials say their effort to expand the program has run into surprising resistance from the White House, which is not widely deploying the machines. Five years ago, officials here note, the Bush administration was prodding local authorities to move faster to detect the use of biological weapons and pouring billions into biosecurity-related initiatives. New York's leaders now say the administration's enthusiasm and sense of urgency has flagged in its final year in office.” (Washington Post, 09Jan08; Spencer S. Hsu) http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/08/AR2008010803892.html?hpid=topnews

Will ‘NIMBY’ Syndrome Kill N.C. [North Carolina]’s Chances for Bioterror Lab?

“Tuesday’s news that the Granville County [North Carolina] Board of Commissioners has pulled support for building a bioterrorism lab near Butner is bad news for the project. The NIMBY syndrome – as in ‘not in my back yard’ – will chill local and state efforts to win the $450 million project and the hundreds of scientific research jobs that go with it. However, […] federal officials are at fault for not helping to allay people’s concerns about the project. ‘
Homeland Security is not talking to people, not answering their questions,’ local resident John Monroe [said]. Have concerns about the project? Go to our Web site, said Homeland Security. Poor communication about what exactly the project is – and how dangerous it could be – could very well throw North Carolina’s extensive recruitment efforts into turmoil.” (WRAL LocalTechWire.com, 09Jan08, Rick Smith)

Lab electrician contends firing was retaliatory

“A former electrician at Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton [
Montana] is alleging that he was fired last spring after lodging complaints about safety breaches at the research facility, which is building a lab to study dangerous diseases such as Ebola. The matter goes before a federal administrative judge in Missoula today for a two-day hearing to determine if managers fired the man as punishment for being a whistle-blower. Rick Hurley, a licensed master electrician who has worked for the federal government for more than 20 years, filed a whistle-blower complaint in March 2006. The National Institutes of Health, which ultimately oversees the lab, issued a statement Monday saying officials investigated all of Hurley's complaints regarding electrical safety at the lab and found them baseless. […] At issue in today's hearing is not whether Hurley's allegations are true, but if the lab was right to fire him and whether managers did so in retaliation for his allegations. The hearing is a result of Hurley's appealing his April 2007 termination.” (Billings Gazette, 07Jan08, Jennifer McKee) http://www.billingsgazette.net/articles/2008/01/08/news/state/24-electrician.txt

The growing number of immunocompromised

“It's estimated that about 10 million people in the United States (3.6 percent of the population) are immunocompromised. But that's likely an underestimate because it only includes those with HIV/AIDS (diagnosed and undiagnosed), organ transplant recipients, and cancer patients; there's a sizable population that takes immunosuppressive drugs for other disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease. This is a concern because while modern medicine allows many immunocompromised individuals to live longer, they're at an increased risk for acquiring and spreading infections to others. […] Agents of bioterrorism such as smallpox also pose a great risk to the immunocompromised, who are ineligible for the smallpox vaccine because it contains an active (although weakened) virus that could cause a deadly adverse reaction.”
(Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 07Jan08, Laura H. Kahn) http://www.thebulletin.org/columns/laura-kahn/20080107.html

Oregon commission reopens public testimony on Umatilla waste

“In response to a lawsuit, the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission voted Tuesday to reopen public comment on the disposal of secondary waste from the destruction of aging chemical weapons stored at the Umatilla Chemical Depot near Hermiston. The waste includes plastic protective suits used by workers and contaminated carbon filters from the incinerators used to destroy the stockpile of
Cold War chemical weapons at the Army depot in Eastern Oregon. The Government Accountability Project, based in Washington, D.C., won a ruling in April in Multnomah County Circuit Court in Portland ordering the state to review the ‘best available technology
for disposing of secondary waste.” (OregonLive.com, 08Jan08, AP) http://www.oregonlive.com/newsflash/index.ssf?/base/news-22/1199832242189460.xml&storylist=orlocal

Army Corps hopes to resume chemical munitions dig

“The U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers is awaiting a safety board's approval to resume digging for buried chemical munitions near American University [Washington, D.C.]. Army Corps officials say they stopped digging in early December after the discovery of a shell that was configured to explode. Project manager Dan Noble says it's only the second explosively configured munition found in 15 years of digging for World War I munitions buried in the area. In a meeting with nearby residents late Tuesday, officials said the shell did not have a fuse attached, making the chance of an explosion highly unlikely. The Army operated a chemical warfare station at the university to develop and test weapons during the war. Munitions were buried behind the campus when the Army left decades ago.” (Examiner.com, 09Jan08)

Feds, farm groups working to improve security of high-risk farm chemicals

“The Department of
Homeland Security (DHS) is working to make the screening process regarding chemical security regulations more appropriate for farmers. The department recently announced a delay that exempts farmers and other agricultural facilities from having to complete the vulnerability screening, which has caused some confusion about who should complete the screening and who is exempt. The screening will help DHS determine if it needs to follow up with individuals to do further vulnerability assessments, according to a university report. ‘The system that is in place for chemical manufacturing, refining and distribution plants is not ideal for farm operations,’ says Purdue University Extension Disaster Education Network communication specialist and field staff liaison Steve Cain. ‘The U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) and farm organizations will work with the department to help develop a system more appropriate for agriculture.’” (Agriculture Online, 09Jan08) http://www.agriculture.com/ag/story.jhtml?storyid=/templatedata/ag/story/data/1199892909300.xml

Poison sent to councillor 'strong enough to kill'

“The poison in a vodka bottle sent to a Blackburn [U.K.] councillor as part of a campaign for Scottish independence was strong enough to kill him, a court heard. Wayne Cook, 45, is on trial at the court charged with two counts of using noxious substances or things to cause harm and intimidate, under anti-terrorism legislation. The unemployed father-of-three is accused of sending a miniature bottle of vodka filled with caustic soda to Darwen councillor John Wright in April 2007 while another parcel with the same contents was posted to a Scottish journalist, Myra Philp. […] It is alleged that the parcels were sent as part of a campaign by the Scottish National Liberation
Army (SNLA) to force the British Government out of Scotland. Cook denies the charges.” (Blackburn Citizen, 09Jan08, Telegraph Newsdesk) http://www.blackburncitizen.co.uk/news/newsheadlines/display.var.1953786.0.poison_sent_to_councillor_strong_enought_to_kill.php

Congress Calls for Outside Look at Radiation Detectors

“The omnibus spending bill passed late last year by Congress has placed additional hurdles in front of the
Homeland Security Department’s drive to roll out next-generation radiation detectors at U.S. ports, including demanding an outside scientific evaluation of the technology. The new requirements are just the latest development in a more than yearlong battle between the Government Accountability Office, lawmakers and DHS officials over the efficacy of the new technology and the way in which the department has tested it. The new detectors, called Advanced Spectroscopic Portal monitors (or ASPs), are designed to not only detect radiation but to identify the nature of its source, eliminating the need for time-consuming secondary inspections to determine whether the material is innocuous or dangerous. A number of mundane items regularly shipped into the United States, including ceramic tiles and bananas, contain radioactive isotopes that can set off the radiation detectors.” (Global Security Newswire, 09Jan08, Jon Fox)

Press candidates on threat of nuclear
terrorism, two say

“Voters should press the presidential candidates to say what they would do, if elected, to prevent
terrorists from carrying out a nuclear attack in the U.S., an expert on nuclear terrorism and the daughter of a victim of the Sept. 11 attacks said Tuesday. Michael Hurley, a counter terrorism advisor to the Nuclear Threat Initiative and a senior staff member to the
911 Commission, and Carie Lemack, founder of Families of September 11, commended efforts since the 2001 attacks to avoid a promised al-Qaida-led nuclear attack on the nation, but they said more can be done.” (Arkansas News Bureau, 09Jan08, Rob Moritz) http://www.arkansasnews.com/archive/2008/01/09/News/344767.html

Terrorism News is prepared by the Chemical and Biological Weapons Nonproliferation Program of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in order to bring timely and focused information to researchers and policymakers interested in the fields of chemical, biological, and radiological weapons nonproliferation and WMD terrorism.

For more information and resources on CBW and WMD terrorism, visit the web page of the Center for Nonproliferation Studies, at http://cns.miis.edu/research/cbw/index.htm

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