War on Terrorism

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

CRB Weapons and WMD Terrorism News, June 24, 2009

[Helena Regional Medical Center] HRMC to join in a statewide disaster drill Wednesday [AR]
"Wednesday, June 24, Helena Regional Medical Center [HRMC] will participate in a statewide exercise designed to test the state's ability to respond to a large-scale public health crisis. The drill involves emergency preparedness planners from hospitals and state and local agencies statewide who plan to rehearse what they would do in the hours and days following an actual public health emergency, such as the release of a bioterrorism agent or the spread of a deadly communicable disease. During a four-hour drill [HRMC] will join forces with the Arkansas Department of Health's local county health unit and state and local government officials from all over Arkansas to test the state's response readiness. According to […] hospital administrator Tom Fewell, preparedness has been a priority for quite some time, but the complexity of response required in today's world presents some challenges for hospitals. […] The exercise will allow hospital emergency response planners across the state to evaluate their capacity to interact with other emergency responder groups using proper personnel, communications systems and operational abilities. […] The exercise will also allow local and state emergency responders to practice their interaction with the federal agencies, especially the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the CDC's Strategic National Stockpile (SNS)." (The Daily World; 23Jun09) http://www.helena-arkansas.com/homepage/x998780583/HRMC-to-join-in-a-statewide-disaster-drill-Wednesday

New bio-containment lab opens in Memphis [TN]
"A new weapon in the fight against infectious diseases is now up and running. The Regional Bio-Lab opened Monday, June 22, 2009, in Downtown Memphis. It's one of only 13 bio-containment labs funded by the National Institutes of Health. […] Researchers will use the new equipment in the lab to step up the fight against everything from bioterrorism to the flu. Dr. Helen Morrow with the Memphis Shelby County Health Department said, 'Germs are always out to get us. Sometimes of their own accord. Sometimes they are used against us […] and we can be proactive in finding ways to combat that.' Scientists will work at the lab to develop new vaccines and therapeutic drugs to protect you from possible epidemics." (abc24 CW30 Eyewitness News; 23Jun09) http://www.myeyewitnessnews.com/news/local/story/New-Bio-Containment-Lab-Opens-in-Memphis/glMJhOi0YU6-yLdCLEWbxQ.cspx

Ebola infection blocked in cells [Galveston, TX]
"Researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston have found a way to stop Ebola from infecting cells. [...] Researchers have been racing for decades to attempt to halt the tricking virus, but until now there has been limited success. However, a recent study published in Drug Discovery Research holds new promise. Though the experiment was only conducted in cell culture, it is the first time the virus has been stopped from infecting cells. [...] The experiment was a large-scale gene screen. By using a small interfering RNA (siRNA) technique to block over 700 genes one at a time or in combination, scientists investigated under which situations the virus was able to infect the cell. [...] Using a new computer system that searches for statistical significance in an siRNA experiment, they found two unique pathways that seemed to allowed the virus to infect the cell: the PI3 kinase pathway and the CAMK2 pathway. [...] 'With the real virus, we found that the PI3 kinase inhibitor dropped virus titers by 65 percent, and if we used drugs which block CAMK2 function, it was just killed - stopped dead,' [sic] [Dr. Robert] Davey said. 'This is really, very, very interesting because this pathway has a lot of potential for future pharmaceutical exploitation.' At the moment, Ebola is contained within Africa. However, it has long been viewed as a bioterrorism threat because of the efficiency with which it kills its victims." (Examiner; 24Jun09; Meg Marquardt) http://www.examiner.com/x-1242-Science-News-Examiner~y2009m6d24-Ebola-infection-blocked-in-cells

Disarmament cooperation with Russia: construction begins today on a new chemical weapons destruction plant in Pochep, German [Minister of Foreign Affairs] MFA announced
"Under a G8 initiative known as the Global Partnership against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction, the German Government is supporting the destruction of Russian chemical weapons. In Pochep [Russia], the Federal Foreign Office is providing financing of up to 140 million euro for the construction of a building with technical equipment to incinerate reaction masses as well as residuals from the destruction of chemical weapons. In this building, after the chemical agents are removed, he munitions shells are also put beyond use. Pochep is home to the largest of Russia's seven declared chemical-weapon stockpiles. There are ome 7,500 tons of the nerve gases Vx, sarin and soman, most of which is contained in more than 67,000 shells. All of these stockpiles must be destroyed by the end of April 2012 in accordance with Russia's international-law obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention. […] Chemical weapons destruction is due to begin in the early summer of 2010." (Isria; 22Jun09)

No public comment offered on arsenal's burn permit [Pine Bluff, AR]
"It appears that local residents don't have much to say about continued chemical weapons incineration. The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality [ADEQ] held a meeting Monday at White Hall City Hall to give the public a chance to provide input on the Pine Bluff Arsenal's chemical weapons disposal permit renewal. Other than representatives of the arsenal's disposal facility and ADEQ, no one from the general public attended the meeting. In a brief presentation outlining the chemical weapons disposal process, ADEQ Deputy Director J. Ryan Benefield said the 45-day public comment period will remain open until July 7. If no comments are received, the permit will be issued as submitted. […] Those involved in the burn […] include ADEQ, the U.S. Army and the contractor hired for disposal, Washington Defense Group, EG&G Division of URS Corp. […] The facility is processing 905.5 lbs. of mustard per hour in its liquid incinerator and 318.75 lbs. per hour in its metal parts furnace. ADEQ approved a draft permit renewal May 21, allowing the facility to increase from 50 percent capacity to 75 percent." (Pine Bluff Commercial; 24Jun09;
Amy Riggin) http://www.pbcommercial.com/articles/2009/06/24/news/news5.txt

Serbs send nuclear fuel to Russia, citing security
"Serbia plans to ship thousands of kilograms of spent nuclear fuel to Russia as it seeks to avert security threats and decommission a research reactor. […] The Vinca Nuclear Institute […] will ship 2.5 tonnes of spent fuel rods and 13 kg of highly enriched uranium via Russia's state-run Rosatom corporation, deputy science minister Miroslav Veskovic said. 'We are concerned over security and safety,' Veskovic said in an interview, adding that the nuclear waste would be sent to Russia for reprocessing and storage. […] Veskovic acknowledged that while the Vinca material would be difficult to process into a weapons-grade substance, there was 'potential for a dirty bomb.'" (Reuters; 23Jun09; Aleksandar Vasovic)

China: Sino-Singaporean joint exercise boosts military ties
"Chinese and Singaporean armed forces Wednesday concluded a joint training exercise, which […] would deepen pragmatic cooperation between the two forces. Aimed at improving counter-terrorism abilities, 'Cooperation 2009' began […] in the southwest Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region on Thursday. At the final drill […], 61 members from each side handled suspected 'bombs' left by 'international terrorists' in a simulated attack using radioactive contaminants, biological and chemical weapons on a world expo. […] The Chinese forces came from an anti-biochemical unit with the [People's Liberation Army] PLA's Guangzhou Military Command and their counterparts were from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Explosives (CBRE) Defense Group with the 2nd People's Defense Force. […] 'During the training exercise, the officers and soldiers from both sides had close exchanges and observed each other's equipment and skills to fight terrorists [...],' [said] Senior Colonel Luo Mingcan, Chinese chief director of the exercise. 'Sharing radioactive, biological and chemical defense practices could greatly improve the military's ability to deal with more unconventional security threats.' […] Major-General Qi Jianguo, assistant to the PLA Chief of General Staff, said the exercise would enhance mutual trust between the two armed forces and promote bilateral military relations. Chief of Staff of the SAF Joint Chief Brigadier-General Chan Chun Sing […] hoped the SAF could have more opportunities for defense operation with the PLA." (Isria; 24Jun09)

EU seeks to beef up defences against dirty-bomb [and WMD] attacks
"The European Commission unveiled Wednesday proposals to boost the continent's defences against the 'most frightenting scenario' of bio-terrorism or a dirty bomb attack. 'Terrorist groups acquiring weapons of mass destruction, including CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) materials is the most frightening scenario,' said EU Justice Commissioner Jacques Barrot. The proposals […] are aimed at preventing criminals from getting access to such materials, detecting them before they are misused and responding quickly and efficiently when an attack occurs. They include steps to protect potentially dangerous materials and reduce any risk they might be lost, boost the exchange on data between the 27 nations on security issues and train emergency workers to save lives and limit damage. […] An EU expert said the likelihood of such a strike is small, with the highest threat being posed by bio-terrorism. […] The expert said it was also important to develop an early warning system, and particularly one that would mobilise law enforcement agencies more effectively." (EU Business; 24Jun09)

Maha [State] Gov[ernment] to form panels to tackle nuclear, chemical attack [India]

"[The] Maharashtra Government has said it will set up committees to handle the situation in the event of any terror attack involving use of 'nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.' […] A committee has been formed under Industries Department Principal Secretary to handle attacks using chemical weapons. For tackling an attack using nuclear weapons, Principal Secretary (Home) would head a similar panel. The Principal Secretary (Medical Education) would head another panel to tackle a terror attack through biological weapons […] Similar committees would be set at district level." (Indiopia; 23Jun09)

Mexico begins radiation detection operations at Lazaro Cardenas port
"The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the Mexican Servicio de Administraci√≥n Tributaria (SAT) today announced that new radiation detection equipment has been installed at one of Mexico's busiest seaports. Installed at the Port of Lazaro Cardenas, this new equipment is part of a global effort to implement President Obama's commitment to preventing nuclear terrorism by securing dangerous nuclear material around the world. The equipment will be used to help detect smuggled or illicit shipments of nuclear and other radioactive materials that might move through the port. […] This is the second of four Megaports to go operational in Mexico. […] Once all four Megaports are operational, an estimated 92-93% of Mexican imports and exports will be covered under the Megaports Initiative. The remaining percentage of trade transits through various smaller ports not covered by the program's scope. […] The Megaports Initiative is part of NNSA's Second Line of Defense Program, which aims to strengthen the capability of foreign governments to deter, detect, and interdict illicit trafficking in nuclear and other radioactive materials across international borders and through the global maritime shipping system. The Megaports Initiative provides radiation detection equipment, training, and technical support to key international seaports to scan cargo containers for nuclear and other radioactive materials. Around the world, the Megaports Initiative is currently operational in 23 ports and work is underway at over 20 additional ports. (U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration; 23Jun09)

Defentect launches homeland security industry's first-to-market CBRNE sensor management platform [Norwalk, CT]
"Defentect […] announces the commercial launch of the homeland security industry's first fully integrated management, monitoring and messaging software platform, DM3 (TM). The DM3 platform coordinates control and management of multiple CBRNE (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive) sensors, coordinating the collection of data and facilitating response to an event. […] DM3 also affords a straightforward mechanism to add Defentect and third party threat sensors to existing security systems, resulting in a unified and cost-effective solution which detects threats and notifies both camera management systems and appropriate personnel of the event. […] 'Since DM3 and our sensors are IP-based, end users can easily add Defentect as well as many legacy threat sensors to existing security systems. It is delivered as a hosted application […] or can be licensed for installation on an end user's own system,' explained [Defentect President Frank] O'Connor." (Fox Business; 23Jun09; Source: Defentect)

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