War on Terrorism

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News-June 10, 2009

Pierce County [GA] takes part in anthrax [outbreak response] drill
"The Pierce County Health Department passed a test Tuesday of its ability to rapidly dispense large amounts of drugs in the event of an epidemic or other emergency. […] The drugs were dispensed in a drive-through method, with vehicles forming two lines and the occupants submitting head-of-household forms that allowed them to get enough drugs for an entire family. Some vehicles had as many as four people. […] Asked for her assessment about halfway through, Lauren Thornton, the Health Department's nurse supervisor, said 'It's going well. I'm seeing what areas we need to work on. We need more nurses. If we had more nurses, we wouldn't be so backed up.' […] Such drills are required by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as part of participation in the Strategic National Stockpile." (Florida Times-Union; 10Jun09; Terry Dickson) http://www.jacksonville.com/news/georgia/2009-06-10/story/pierce_county_takes_part_in_anthrax_drill

Emergent biosolutions receives FDA approval extending shelf life of biothrax (Anthrax Vaccine Adsorbed) to 4 years
"Emergent BioSolutions Inc. [...] announced today that [...], BioThrax [...] has been granted a shelf life extension from 3 to 4 years by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). […] Emergent continues to research additional enhancements to BioThrax such as a possible further reduction in the vaccination regimen and a potential label expansion to include use as a post-exposure prophylaxis. To date, Emergent has supplied over 33 million doses of BioThrax to the U.S. government, with additional deliveries to the [Strategic National Stockpile] SNS scheduled through the third quarter of 2011. […] BioThrax is the only FDA-licensed vaccine for the prevention of anthrax infection [sic]. It is indicated for the active immunization of adults who are at high risk of exposure to anthrax [spores]. BioThrax is manufactured from a culture filtrate, made from a non-virulent strain of Bacillus anthracis. Since 1998, the U.S. government has procured nearly 33.5 million doses of BioThrax. During that time period, more than 8.7 million doses have been administered to more than 2.2 million military personnel." (Welt Online; 10Jun09)

[National Institutes of Health] NIH invests $46 million in regional consortium for emerging infectious disease research [NY]
"Columbia [University]'s Mailman School of Public Health has received approximately $46 million from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to support research and training initiatives throughout the consortium. The Northeast Biodefense Center (NBC), established in 2002, is the largest of the 11 Regional Centers of Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases in the nation. […] NBC investigators conduct interdisciplinary, inter-institutional research on diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines to address the challenges of emerging infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance. Academic researchers collaborate with the private sector to provide additional intellectual capital and resources to help moving discoveries from laboratories to practical application in protecting human health and society's welfare. […] The School's 300 multi-disciplinary faculty members work in more than 100 countries around the world, addressing such issues as infectious and chronic diseases, health promotion and disease prevention, environmental health, maternal and child health, health over the life course, health policy, and public health preparedness." (Eureka Alert; 08Jun09; Randee Sacks Levine) http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-06/cums-ni060809.php

Anthrax [bacteria] exposure drill at school will test readiness [Lithia Springs, GA]
"Douglas County emergency officials will hold an anthrax [bacteria] exposure drill Thursday morning at Lithia Springs High School to evaluate readiness to respond to a bioterrorism attack. The drill will begin at 7 a.m. and continue through the morning at the high school located at 2520 East County Line Road. 'The exercise will be based on a fictitious scenario in which anthrax spores are intentionally released into the air in the Atlanta area, resulting in the activation of the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),' said Wes Tallon, county communications and community relations director. [...] 'The exercise will give health and emergency management participants an opportunity to use developed plans and evaluate their effectiveness to respond to a bioterrorism attack.' This Public Health Ready drill is sponsored by Cobb and Douglas Public Health and is being held to comply with guidelines of the Department of Homeland Security and its Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation program." (Times-Georgian; 10Jun09; Winston Jones) http://www.times-georgian.com/pages/full_story?page_label=home&id=2686065&widget=push&article-Anthrax%20exposure-%20Drill%20at%20school-will%20test%20readiness%20=&instance=west_ga_news&open=&

Insider threats seen as biolabs' biggest problem
"A Defense Science Board report on military biolab safety says insider threats are the labs' biggest security problem. The Frederick News-Post reports that the board recommends a security review of Fort Detrick's U.S. Army Research Institute of Infectious Diseases' environmental system computers. These computers help ensure that airborne pathogens cannot leave labs. The report comes after the FBI's conclusion that a Fort Detrick scientist was responsible for the 2001 anthrax [spore] mailings that killed five and sickened 17. But it does not examine the Justice Department's specific allegations. The report identifies insider threats as the most difficult to defend against, but dismisses concerns about outsiders trying to obtain pathogens from Defense Department labs." (Maryland AP News; 09Jun09; Source: AP)

Chinese police forces kick off anti-terrorism drills
"China held an anti-terrorism drill Tuesday afternoon to test its police forces' ability to handle a bomb containing radioactive contaminants. The drill, held in northern Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region's capital Hohhot, kicks off a series of drills in the autonomous region, Shanxi and Hebei provinces that surround Beijing. The exercise [...] is aimed at improving the police forces' abilities to deal with possible terrorism attacks and other emergencies for the security of celebrations to be held in Beijing around Oct. 1 which marks the 60th founding anniversary of the People's Republic of China. […] Through close cooperation with the city's health and environment authorities, the police forces successfully controlled the situation, according to the exercise's command headquarters. The exercise will last through the middle of this month." (People's Daily; 10Jun09) http://english.people.com.cn/90001/90776/90785/6675167.html

FBI tests its response to simulated terror[ist] attack in [Queens, NY]
"The FBI, New York Police Department and other law enforcement agencies will spend the next three days testing their response to a simulated terror[ist] attack. The drill begins Tuesday night and continues through Thursday. It will take place in Queens [NY]. About 300 police officers and nearly 400 FBI agents and analysts will take part. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly says it will 'address the possibility of a nuclear or radioactive device coming into the city.' Special units will be assessed on how well they detect, intercept and defuse a dirty bomb or other device. […] The drill will cost a few hundred thousand dollars and is part of the Securing the Cities initiative." (WHEC; 09Jun09)

Russia to destroy 6,000 tons of nerve gas
"Russia has the largest chemical weapons arsenal in the world. [...] After years of complications it is finally being destroyed. A new facility [...] in Siberia has finally started neutralizing nearly 6,000 tons of nerve agents. [...] This site accounts for only 14% of Russia's [chemical weapons] arsenal [...] considered crucial because of its proximity to Afghanistan. Chemical weapons can be seen as a far more potent terrorist threat than nuclear ones. They are easier to steal and easier to deploy. [...] Next on the US agenda is the nuclear issue - Russia has more than 4,000 nuclear warheads. Talks are in progress on how to reduce both sides' stockpiles." (Sky News UK; 10Jun09; Amanda Walker) http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/World-News/Chemical-Weapons-Russia-To-Destroy-6000-Tons-Of-Nerve-Gas/Article/200906215299439?lpos=World_News_Top_Stories_Header_4&lid=ARTICLE_15299439_Chemical_Weapons:_Russia_To_Destroy_6,000_Tons_Of_Nerve_Gas

Lithuania voices concern over Nord Stream pipeline [due to chemical weapons in the Baltic Sea]
"Lithuania raised concerns on Tuesday about potential environmental damage from a planned gas pipeline on the bed of the Baltic sea which would connect Russia and Germany while bypassing its territory. The Lithuanian Environment Ministry said an environmental impact assessment [...] undertaken for the Nord Stream project lacked detail and did not accurately reflect the pollution and ecosystem damage the pipeline would cause. [...] The ministry said the munitions dumped in the Baltic Sea are likely to total between 360,000-385,000 tons, including 40,000 tons of chemical weapons, making it one of the most polluted seas in the world. While the study mentions dumpsites of chemical munitions near Danish [...] and Swedish island[s], the report lacks information on the dumped munitions in the Russian territorial waters and economic zone." (Guardian; 09Jun09; Nerijus Adomaitis; Source: Reuters)

[New York Fireman Shane] Malone prepares for emergencies
"The Department of Homeland Security [...] is training a select percentage of the nation's 11 million first-responders to deal with a variety of emergencies, such as a chemical-weapon attack using sarin. In the process, [Irishman Shane] Malone has become the first foreign-born responder to complete all Homeland Security courses. Malone has just completed a training week offered by the Center for Domestic Preparedness at Fort McClellan in Alabama. 'You don't get to see much, except for airports and the inside of a suit,' said [Malone...], referring to a 'Level B suit,'
which fully encapsulates a responder dealing with airborne nerve agents [...] or blister agents. Homeland Security is training personnel with the view that such attacks will happen. Malone, who can be deployed in either New York or Boston, said of weapons of mass destruction: 'They're so easily obtainable; that's the scary part.'" (Irish Echo; 10Jun09; Peter McDermott)

An exercise in public relations [discusses chemical weapons preparedness]
"The civil defense exercise Turing Point 3 was a success, as expected. [...] The problem is that this was a public relations exercise. In reality, the home front's situation remains as bleak as it was three years ago. [...] The exercise mimicked a two-week war during which Israel is fighting on three fronts - Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip - and absorbing barrages of missiles and rockets. [...] And if missiles and rockets armed with chemical warheads were launched at [Israel], the situation would be even bleaker. A significant portion of the civilian population does not have gas masks, and some of the masks in the public's hands are not fit for use. 'The low proportion of masks that are fit for use will not enable the protection of most inhabitants of the State of Israel if the country is attacked with chemical weapons,' wrote the state comptroller in a report published about two years ago. [...] That is why the civil defense exercise completely ignored the scenario of a chemical warfare attack and included no practice in donning gas masks. The public was [only] asked to enter shelters when the siren went off. [...] One of the aims of the exercise was [...] to rehabilitate the public's faith in the Home Front Command after its failure in the [...] 2006 [war with Lebanon]." (Haaretz; 10Jun09; Reuven Pedatzur) http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1091436.html

China, OPCW hold seminar jointly in Hong Kong
"The Chinese government and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) opened a seminar jointly on Wednesday to discuss the functions that customs play in implementing the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). More than 40 senior customs officials from 26 countries in the Asia-Pacific region as well as officials of the technical secretariat of the OPCW [took] part in the regional seminar. [...] It is the first time that China and the OPCW [have held] a seminar jointly in Hong Kong. As an original signatory state to the [1997] CWC, China has [...] kept a well-maintained cooperative relationship with the OPCW, the implementing body of the CWC. In accordance with the principle of 'One Country, Two Systems' and the basic law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the CWC entered into force in Hong Kong starting from July 1, 1997. In 2004, the CWC-implementation related legislation came into effect in Hong Kong." (China View; 10Jun09) http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-06/10/content_11519063.htm

US weighs options to free journalists in North Korea [discusses shipboard inspections for CBRN related materials]
"The sentence of 12 years of hard labor for two American journalists in North Korea opens a new chapter in efforts at winning their release. [...] The sentencing coincides with an intensified US effort to obtain approval by the [UN] Security Council of tough sanctions against North Korea in retaliation for the North's underground nuclear test on May 25. The US has produced a draft resolution [... which] calls for inspection of cargo vessels suspected of carrying materiel and components for nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. [...] Another provision of the draft calls for cracking down on financial institutions or companies involved in exporting the equipment that North Korea needs for its nuclear and other weapons programs." (Christian Science Monitor; 08Jun09; Donald Kirk) http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0608/p06s13-woap.html

Panel opposes swine flu funding shift [from project BioShield fund]
"The Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism is opposing the Obama administration's request to take $3 billion from the Project BioShield Special Reserve Fund, created five years ago to fight nuclear, biological or chemical threats, to help pay for flu vaccine. 'Using BioShield funds for flu preparedness will severely diminish the nation's efforts to prepare for WMD events and will leave the nation less, not more, prepared,' commission Chairman and former Sen. Bob Graham D-[FL], and Vice Chairman and former Sen. James Talent, R-[MO], wrote President Obama in a letter sent Sunday. […] 'Except in extraordinary circumstances, BioShield funds will not be accessed,' Office of Management and Budget spokesman Kenneth Baer told the newspaper." (United Press International; 08Jun09) http://www.upi.com/Top_News/2009/06/08/Panel-opposes-swine-flu-funding-shift/UPI-67651244462121/

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