War on Terrorism

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News- June 3, 2009

New genomic science center will study infectious diseases [Baltimore, MD]
"Baltimore scientists will be on the front lines of the fight against new and emerging infectious disease, thanks to a $20 million federal grant establishing a new genomic sequencing center at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. [...] 'Our work under this project could lead to new drugs, vaccines and diagnostic tools in the fight against infectious diseases, from emerging diseases such as 2009 H1N1 to agents of bioterrorism,' said Claire Fraser-Liggett, director of the institute." Baltimore Sun; 03Jun09)

Tulane receives $7.07 million NIH [National Institutes of Health] grant to develop hemorrhagic fever virus detection kits
"Researchers at Tulane University, in collaboration with Corgenix Medical Corporation, a worldwide developer and marketer of diagnostic test kits, have received a five-year $7,073,538 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for continued development of detection kits for Lassa viral hemorrhagic fever, a serious disease spread by contact with infected rodents. [...] New outbreaks of the Lassa fever have been reported recently, including in Nigeria. 'We are now seeing much broader presence of this disease in Africa,' says Dr. Daniel Bausch, Director of the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine Research and Training Program in West Africa. 'Within the past year alone we have seen a significant increase in the number of cases in Nigeria, with increased fatalities. It is critical that the assays we have already developed and are using in Africa, as well as others still in our development pipeline, become fully deployed to aid in this vital effort.'" (Medical News Today; 3Jun09)

Skokie [IL] mock drill prepares for health emergency
"The village Monday successfully hosted a mock exercise where regional health workers and others had to deliver medicine safely and efficiently in a short period of time. Many Niles West High School students participated in the drill, which was held from early morning to mid-afternoon in the school fieldhouse. 'It was the first fictional test for us of this kind, and it showed that we could successfully handle a situation like this,' said Skokie Director of Health Dr. Catherine Counard. [...] In total, Counard said, 2,861 students were 'treated' and 10,683 bottles of medicine were 'dispensed.' About 477 students were treated every hour, she said. The mock scenario had someone with a plague attending an event in Skokie and spreading disease. But Counard said it's not so important what triggered the call for dispensing medicine on a wide-spread basis; just that the need was there for one reason or another." (Skokie Review; 02Jun09; Mike Isaacs) http://www.pioneerlocal.com/skokie/news/1604576,skokie-emergdrill-060209-s1.article

PolyMedix develops antibiotic compounds to combat biowarfare pathogens
"PolyMedix, Inc., an emerging biotechnology company [...] has received a research contract from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) in the amount of $1.6 million to develop new defensin-mimetic antibiotic compounds to combat biowarfare pathogens. [...] The work to be conducted by PolyMedix will include preclinical animal efficacy studies for intravenous defensin-mimetic antibiotic agents against Category A and B biopathogens, including the infectious agents which cause anthrax, plague, and tularemia." (Pharmaceutical Business Review; 02Jun09)

Biodefense firm in running to develop anthrax vaccine
"An Annapolis biodefense firm said it is one of two companies left in the running for a government contract to develop 25 million doses of an anthrax vaccine. Employees of the Annapolis-based PharmAthene work together in a laboratory. The company said it is one of two firms competing for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services contract to produce 25 million doses of an anthrax vaccine. Stacey Jurchison, spokeswoman for PharmAthene, said the only other firm competing for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services contract is Emergent BioSolutions of Rockville. PharmAthene officials said the deal could be worth up to $500 million and is part of the government's effort to procure an anthrax vaccine for the national stockpile." (The Capital; 02Jun09; Katie Arcieri) http://www.hometownannapolis.com/news/bus/2009/06/02-41/Biodefense-firm-in-running-to-develop-anthrax-vaccine.html

Response team seeks pharmacists to help prepare for response to bioterror[ism], pandemic [Livingston County, MI]
"The county is taking steps to ensure it's prepared in the event of a pandemic or biological attack by recruiting volunteer nurses and pharmacists. [...] Don Hayduk, Livingston County's emergency preparedness coordinator, said the county already has 200 nurses on its Public Health Volunteer Response Team, which was established in 2006, and it is just starting to recruit pharmacists, preferably those who live and work in the area. [...] In the event of an emergency, such as an anthrax attack or virus outbreak, the team will issue an alert with details as to how many volunteers are needed, where they will be sent and what skills or type of people are being requested. [...] The team was most recently partially activated during the recent H1N1 influenza outbreak, with several volunteers manning a phone bank and answering questions from the public. That resource allowed health officials to focus more closely on case investigations and day-to-day operations during the outbreak." (Livingston Daily; 02Jun09; Source: Kristofer Karol, Daily Press & Argus) http://www.livingstondaily.com/article/20090602/NEWS01/906020305/-1/NEWSFRONT2/Response+team+seeks+pharmacists+to+help+prepare+for+response+to+bioterror++pandemic

Army scientists explore new DNA vaccine delivery method [Fort Detrick, MD]
"Army scientists are studying a new DNA vaccine delivery method that will one day be needle-free and painless. […This] method relies on technology known as the 'gene gun,' which is capable of delivering the vaccine directly into cells. The needle-free vaccination method is more cost-effective and less painful for the recipient. […] Vaccines are in Phase I clinical testing, the first step toward licensure by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. […] USAMRIID [United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases] is producing a DNA vaccine for the Asian and European hanta viruses that can cause hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome. […] These viruses are found in many types of rodents, including rats, field mice and meadow voles. […] While the virus doesn't appear to affect the rodents' health, the virus does pose significant risk to humans." (Australia News; 01June09; Jennifer Cragg)

Al Qaeda eyes bio attack [aimed at the U.S.] from Mexico
"U.S. counterterrorism officials have authenticated a video by an al Qaeda recruiter threatening to smuggle a biological weapon into the United States via tunnels under the Mexico border [...] The video aired earlier this year as a recruitment tool makes clear that al Qaeda is looking to exploit weaknesses in U.S. border security and also is willing to ally itself with white militia groups or other anti-government entities interested in carrying out an attack inside the United States, according to counterterrorism officials interviewed by The Washington Times. [...] The video first aired by the Arabic news network Al Jazeera in February and later posted to several Web sites shows Kuwaiti dissident Abdullah al-Nafisi telling a room full of supporters in Bahrain that al Qaeda is casing the U.S. border [...]." (Washington Times; 03Jun09; Sara A. Carter) http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/jun/03/al-qaeda-eyes-bio-attack-via-mexico-border/?source=newsletter_must-read-stories-today_photo_feature

Final hours [of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil-Eelam LTTE insurgency]
"Information gathered by this correspondent from a group of the last batch of 80,000 civilians to flee the LTTE-occupied zone reveals that the Tigers made a determination on May 10 that they had lost the war and that no purpose would be achieved by holding on to the civilians. However, it is not clear on what note they wanted to end the war. [...] TamilNet launched a no-holds-barred attack on the government and the international community hours after the LTTE's defeat. In a report the website said: 'Although [the Sri Lankan Government] initially claimed that the objective of the war was to defeat the LTTE, they have in fact killed and wounded several thousands of innocent Tamil civilians with heavy weapons. They used chemical weapons and cluster bombs on innocents, but they continue to deny the usage of such weapons. This war has claimed more than fifty thousand lives just within the last few months, but the Sri Lankan government is not going to open its mouth and tell this truth to the world.'" (Frontline, India; 06Jun09 edition; B. Muralidhar Reddy) http://www.hinduonnet.com/fline/stories/20090619261200900.htm

Army: nerve gas leak contained at [Blue Grass Chemical] depot [KY]
"The Army says workers at the Blue Grass Army Depot have found the source of a nerve gas leak, detected last week. A news release stated a small amount of liquid sarin was coming from a rocket stored in an igloo. [...] U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency said the leak didn't pose a threat to people who live near the depot in Richmond [KY]." (Army Times; 03Jun09; Source: AP)

No legal option for meeting chemical demilitarization deadline, report says
"A new report says that U.S. law prohibits the only realistic option for meeting the 2017 deadline set by Congress for complete elimination of the U.S. chemical-weapon stockpile [...] Demilitarization operations are under way or completed at most chemical weapons storage sites. However, the Defense Department is still building disposal plants at two installations. Even with a potential $1.2 billion in supplementary funding that could quicken the pace of work in coming years, operations are expected to conclude in 2017 at the Pueblo Chemical Depot in Colorado and four years later at the Blue Grass Army Depot in Kentucky." (Global Security Newswire; 02Jun09) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20090602_8404.php

Facility to destroy weapons opened [Shchuchye, Russia]
"On Friday, Russian and American officials formally dedicated the high-tech plant [Shchuchye, Russia], built with the help of $1 billion from the U.S. and designed to destroy about 2 million chemical weapons shells. [...] The 25-structure complex, the size of a small town, was largely funded by the U.S. under a program called the Cooperative Threat Reduction initiative, launched a year after the Soviet collapse. It is meant to help Russia cope with its vast Cold War arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. [...] The weapons at Shchuchye, loaded with nerve gases including VX and sarin, have a cataclysmic potential for terrorist attacks. [...] 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] said that goal probably won't be met." (St. Petersburgh Times; 02Jun09; Jim Heintz)

Umatilla Chemical Weapons Depot hiring security guards [OR]
"For the second time this year the Umatilla Chemical Weapons Depot is hiring more security guards. The depot is hiring more guards because they are about to start another mission. They need more security while they dispose of a mustard chemical agent. About four million pounds of the chemical is stored there in large steel containers. [...] Guards will patrol the depot and protect the military chemicals. Leaders at the depot say it's an opportunity for veterans coming out of the service to continue using some of their skills." (NBC, KNDO/KNDU; 01Jun09)

'Dirty bomb' scenario without the blasts [Albany, NY]
"The reaction to the exercise, part of a three-day effort called 'Empire 09,' was staged around the county hockey facility near Albany International Airport. It featured radiation screenings, officials in white 'space suit'-type outfits and aircraft to watch contaminated areas from the sky. The exercise, hosted by the New York State Disaster Preparedness Commission, was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. It comes only weeks after the FBI arrested four alleged conspirators in a plot to blow up two synagogues in the Bronx and shoot down military planes at Stewart International Airport in Newburgh [NY]. [...] The drill showed the aftermath of the 'attack' -- two radioactive dirty bombs going off during the workday, one at Eagle and State streets, the other at Eagle Street and Madison Avenue. Projected maps show evacuations, from mandatory to voluntary, would stretch from a wide swath of downtown Albany across the Hudson River to the city of Rensselaer." (Times-Union; 03Jun09; Robert Gavin)

RST [Radiation Shield Technologies] introduces Demrontm-W Bomb Shield for nuclear/ballistic protection
"Miami-based Radiation Shield Technologies reports its Demrontm-W High Energy Nuclear/Ballistic IED RDD RED Shield offers complete protection against ballistics, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), radiological dispersive devices (RDDs), radiological emission devices (REDs), fragmentation bombs and nuclear spills. […] Demron […] is offered in two product lines including […] full-body suits, vests and blankets for first-responder and military applications. […] Its effectiveness in blocking gamma rays, x-rays and nuclear emissions has been proven by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Georgia Institute of Technology and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. Demron-W fabrics are flame and acid-resistant and have received National Fire Protection Association Class 2 Certification for the 1994-2007 Standard on Protective Ensembles for First Responders to CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) Terrorism Incidents." (Textile World; 02June2009) http://www.textileworld.com/Articles/2009/June/RST_introduces_DemronW_bomb_shield.html

U.S. accidentally releases list of nuclear sites
"The federal government mistakenly made public a 266-page report, its pages marked 'highly confidential,' that gives detailed information about hundreds of the nation's civilian nuclear sites and programs, including maps showing the precise locations of stockpiles of fuel for nuclear weapons. [...] On Tuesday evening, after inquiries from The New York Times, the document was withdrawn from a Government Printing Office Web site. Several nuclear experts argued that any dangers from the disclosure were minimal, given that the general outlines of the most sensitive information were already known publicly. 'These screw-ups happen,' said John M. Deutch, a former director of central intelligence and deputy secretary of defense who is now a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 'It's going further than I would have gone but doesn't look like a serious breach.' But David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, a private group in Washington that tracks nuclear proliferation, said information that shows where nuclear fuels are stored 'can provide thieves or terrorists inside information that can help them seize the material, which is why that kind of data is not given out.'" (New York Times; 02Jun09; William J. Broad) http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/03/us/03nuke.html?_r=3&hp

Pakistan rejects Indian reaction on JuD [Jama'at ud-Dawa and comments on nuclear security]
"When asked to comment on a press report that Pakistan was getting help from friendly countries for its nuclear security.' [...] Foreign Office Spokesman Abdul Basit said, our nuclear security, in general, and of our nuclear weapons, in particular, is completely indigenous. He said Pakistan has a well-established Nuclear Command and Control Authority, which is responsible for security of Pakistan's nuclear programme. 'Our command, control, safety and security systems are equal, if not better than other nuclear weapon states', he maintained." (Pakistan Observer; 03Jun09; Tanvir Siddiqi) http://pakobserver.net/200906/03/news/topstories06.asp

4 NY terror plot suspects plead not guilty
"Four men accused of crafting a terrorist plot targeting synagogues and military planes in New York have pleaded not guilty to additional charges. James Cromitie, Laguerre Payen (lah-GAYR' PAY'-en), David Williams and Onta (ON'-tay) Williams continue to be held without bail. [...] They were arrested May 20 after an elaborate FBI sting and charged with conspiracy counts. The new charges include attempting to use weapons of mass destruction and conspiracy to kill U.S. officers and employees." (Associated Press; 03Jun09)

Guam's WMD-civil support team gets certified
"The Guam based 94th Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team (WMD-CST) has been certified to handle WMD events. [...] That means that the 94th WMD team based in Barrigada is now fully ready to assist civil authorities in responding to any incident that may involve weapons of mass destruction and that they possess the skills, training, and equipment to do that. The 94th's certification brings the total number of teams certified by DOD [Department of Defense] up to 55, which completes the 55 authorized by congress to ensure one team is fielded in every state, territory, and the District of Columbia." (Pacific News Center; 03Jun09; Kevin Kerrigan)

HazSWAT changed? Combining hazmat and SWAT [special weapons and tacics] training for tactical operators

"Although both entities [Hazmat and SWAT] are designated as first responders and bound by OSHA requirements, SWAT team operators have a different mission than a hazmat team when responding to potential hazards. During a normal SWAT call-out, we have to contain the human threat,' xplains Lt. Darin Dowe, Broward County (Fla.) Sheriff's Office (BCSO) SWAT operator and instructor, and tactical WMD program coordinator. 'With the suspected or actual hazmat/WMD threat we have two issues: Containing the person and containing the threat substance that person may or may not have.' Dowe says. '[In reference to] hostage rescue, we can't run into a house where it is suspected there is a CBRNE threat and put the operator in harm's way. We have to determine the level of protection we need before we can take action. Our goal is to ensure that the public and all public safety personnel are safe. [...].'" (Officer.com; May09; Michelle Perin)

NNSA [National Nuclear Security Administration] concludes nuclear security training with Singapore emergency response teams
"The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today announced that it concluded a series of nuclear emergency training sessions involving more than 100 participants from the Singapore government and medical professions. The emergency training was designed to enhance Singapore's capabilities to respond to any nuclear or radiological incident. [...] During a training program in Singapore, NNSA officials provided briefings on its nuclear and radiological emergency response program at the sessions. [...] NNSA currently collaborates with over 60 foreign governments and 10 international organizations with projects ranging from providing assistance to foreign governments in improving their emergency preparedness and response programs, to joint collaborative activities to improve emergency management infrastructure worldwide." (National Nuclear Security Administration; 02Jun09) http://www.nnsa.energy.gov/news/2395.htm

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.

No comments: