War on Terrorism

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News- May 27, 2009

Disaster drill rescheduled for June 27 [Seguin, TX]
"The pandemic disaster exercise postponed by last month's swine flu outbreak has been reset for late next month, and county emergency management officials are looking for volunteers who can help make it happen. Guadalupe County Emergency Management Coordinator Dan Kinsey said the test, in which county officials would do a dry run of dispensing inoculations against a flu-type illness from the federal Strategic National Stockpile, would be conducted on Saturday, June 27 at the Navarro Independent School District. The drill will run from 8 a.m. to noon, Kinsey said. [...] In all, Kinsey said, about 100 volunteers are needed. Kinsey said he hoped the county's recent local experience with swine flu - in which area schools were closed for a week or more - shows the need to be prepared for the eventuality of a flu pandemic or other, maybe man-made disaster." (Seguin Gazette-Enterprise; 27May09; Ron Maloney) http://www.seguingazette.com/story.lasso?ewcd=f2064c3c2075978f

The anthrax vaccine: a dilemma for Homeland Security
"[...] a review of past oversight efforts reveals regulatory problems, ethical controversies and dubious threat assessments underlying use of the vaccine. Based on the historic controversy, and studies suggesting the majority of U.S. service members continue to object to the vaccine's use, the government should resurvey the vaccine's suitability for American citizens. [...] This article explores the Department of Defense's experience with the anthrax vaccine, and the troubling possibility that the 2001 anthrax letter attacks were a deliberate and successful effort to sustain a program that federal investigators determined was on the verge of failing. [...] In light of uncertain threat assessments, relying on the letter attacks as rationalization for continued use of a product with well-known problems fails the litmus test of good government and sound public health policy." (Homeland Security Affairs; May09; Thomas L. Rempfer)

La Jolla Institute [San Diego, CA] unlocks mystery of potentially fatal reaction to smallpox vaccine
"Researchers from the La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology have pinpointed the cellular defect that increases the likelihood, among eczema sufferers, of developing eczema vaccinatum, a severe and potentially fatal reaction to the smallpox vaccine. [...] The La Jolla Institute's Toshiaki and Yuko Kawakami, M.D.s, Ph.D.s., a husband and wife scientific team, led the research group which found that activity levels of Natural Killer (NK) cells played a pivotal role in the development of eczema vaccinatum in the mice. The activity of the NK cells, which are disease fighting cells of the immune system, was significantly lower in the mice that developed eczema vaccinatum than in normal mice that also received the smallpox vaccine. This knowledge opens the door to one day developing therapies that could potentially boost NK cell activity in eczema sufferers." (Animal Lab News; 26May09; Source: Eureka Alert)

County and city leaders coordinate to just be ready [Los Angeles, CA]
"The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health today hosted a workshop, titled 'Managing a Public Health Crisis at your Doorstep,' designed to educate elected officials and city managers to effectively respond to public health emergencies. More than one hundred participants attended the workshop from cities throughout the county. [...] The workshop covered valuable tools available to cities from Public Health such as the development of continuity of operations plans in case of a pandemic; chemical, biological, or bioterrorism incident; or the aftermath of a natural disaster that may have public health consequences." (Red Orbit; 26May09; Source: PR Newswire) http://www.redorbit.com/news/health/1694812/county_and_city_leaders_coordinate_to_just_be_ready/

Two chemical leaks detected at the [Bluegrass Chemical] depot [KY]
"Army officials reported Tuesday that a mobile laboratory detected low levels of mustard agent vapor inside a chemical weapons igloo located at the Blue Grass Army Depot. The igloo contains several thousand mustard-filled projectiles. Just a few hours later, a separate mobile monitoring laboratory detected nerve agent GB vapor in the interior atmosphere of another igloo. That igloo contains M55 rockets. [...] In both cases, the agent was confined to the interior of the igloo. Toxic chemical workers have connected 1,000 cubic-feet-per-minute (CFM) filters to the rear vent of both igloos. Outside air is drawn in the front vents of the igloo, passes through the length of the igloo and exits out rear vents into the filters which capture all agent particles. This process prevents any agent from escaping into the outside atmosphere, said Dick [Sloan], spokesperson for Blue Grass Chemical Activity." (Richmond Register; 27May09) http://www.richmondregister.com/localnews/local_story_147070551.html

Army preparing for chemical disposal at Utah desert site
"The U.S. Army is preparing to dispose of nerve agent and a blister agent at Deseret Chemical Depot. The Army is putting up a temporary facility where the chemicals will be sampled before they can be destroyed. [...] The Army is also evaluating a proposed small-scale liquid incinerator system to destroy the remaining stockpiles [...]." (Salt Lake Tribune; 22May09; Source: AP)

Russia to open chemical weapons destruction plant
"The bland buildings in western Siberia contain shelf after shelf of nerve-gas shells - some 2 million in all. Each could kill tens of thousands of people, if exploded in a tightly packed area. Many are small enough to be spirited away in a briefcase. Since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union left Russia's military underfunded and disorganized, the arsenal in Shchuchye (SHOO-cheh), about 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) east of Moscow, has been a top security concern. After years of delays and disputes, a vast facility to destroy the weapons is to formally open there on Friday. [...] Moscow already has destroyed about 30 percent of its stockpile, according to the Russian Munitions Agency. But the Shchuchye facility significantly boosts destruction capacity. Russian officials claim it will allow the country to meet its treaty obligations of destroying all chemical weapons by 2012, although [U.S. Senator Richard] Lugar [R-IN] said that goal probably won't be met. Nonetheless, the opening - which follows preliminary destruction work that began in March - is significant because of the dangers posed by the weapons." (Associated Press; 27May09; Jim Heintz) http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hDHpWu8IqCe5_kkKbAlP36xvC44QD98EN0MG0

Emergency services learn how to cope with chemical warfare in Barrow
"People entering the hospital were issued with special suits and had to go through a shower to get in. But what looked like a mass decontamination at the Barrow hospital was an exercise as emergency staff were shown how to cope with chemical warfare. Cumbria Fire and Rescue led the exercise yesterday, demonstrating to medical staff how patients would be decontaminated before entering the hospital. [...] Ulverston-based Paul Turner, who is Chemical, Biological and Nuclear Trainer for Cumbria police, said: 'In the event of this kind of incident, the police would cordon off the hot zone, or the incident area, and prevent any public order or disorder with regard to assisting the fire brigade and people coming into the mass decontamination unit.' The yearly exercise was led by Barrow fire station manager, Roger Exley, who was assisted by watch manager Steve Wright." (North-West Evening Mail; 27May09) http://www.nwemail.co.uk/news/emergency_services_learn_how_to_cope_with_chemical_warfare_in_barrow_1_559858?referrerPath=news

Dirty bomb' exercise today [Moncks Corner, SC]
"Areas around town today will be flooded with rescue personnel during a 12-hour drill responding to a 'dirty bomb.' As many as 2,000 people from agencies across the Lowcountry will be taking part in the exercise from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event is being called the Lowcountry Weapons of Mass Destruction Full-Scale Exercise." (Post & Courier; 27May09) http://www.postandcourier.com/news/2009/may/27/crimebriefs83683/

Cheney's assertions of lives saved is hard to prove
"In the bitter debate over the nation's counter-terrorism policies, former Vice President Dick Cheney has introduced an assertion that substantially raises the stakes. Twice in the last two weeks -- including during his speaking duel with President Obama on Thursday -- Cheney has said that the Bush administration's approach may have saved 'hundreds of thousands' of lives. [...] Cheney's assertion is plausible if he is referring to concerns that Al Qaeda had ambitions of acquiring a nuclear, biological or chemical weapon, said Gary J. Schmitt, an intelligence expert at the American Enterprise Institute, where Cheney delivered his speech Thursday. [...] Obama has also made assertions in the counter-terrorism debate that are difficult to assess. In making the case Thursday for closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, he said that the island prison had 'likely created more terrorists around the world than it ever detained.'" (Chicago Tribune; 23May09; Greg Miller, Los Angeles Times) http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/la-na-cheney23-2009may23,0,3639118.story

For 2nd time, suspicious substance found in ex-judge's law office [Hagerstown, Maryland]
"For the second time in five months, a letter containing a suspicious powdery substance was delivered Tuesday morning to former Washington County Circuit Judge John P. Corderman at his Hagerstown law office. 'He called police and left a message on voice mail,' said Sgt. Paul J. Kifer. When the message was received, uniformed officers were immediately sent to the law office at 5 Public Square. Also sent were personnel from the hazardous materials response team, Kifer said. That unit would package the letter so it can be sent away and tested. 'It looks like it came from a prison again,' Kifer said." (Herald-Mail; 26May09; Marlo Barnhart)

The MIT Professional Institute will be offering the following course this
summer: Pandemics and bioterrorism: from realistic threats to effective policies [17.60s] July 27-29, 2009 Swine flu is only the most recent of the challenges posed by threats of bioterrorism and global pandemics. Yet public health and security agencies evaluate these risks through their own professional norms and organizational cultures. MIT experts and affiliates explore the obstacles to policy implementation and strategies to overcome them.

For further information please contact Lynne Levine at llevine@MIT.EDU

CNS ChemBio-WMD 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.

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