War on Terrorism

Monday, July 06, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News, July 6, 2009

Memphis lab ready for research on infectious diseases, bioterrorism [TN]
"The University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis has completed a new laboratory for research on infectious diseases and bioterrorism. Professor Gerald Byrne, the Regional Biocontainment Laboratory director, says the lab will help develop new vaccines and antibiotics. […] Research is already under way on cholera, tularemia, SARS and multi-drug resistant pathogens, including tuberculosis. The 30,315-square-foot facility is a 'level 3' biocontainment lab, one of 13 across the country supported by the National Institutes of Health as part of its Regional Centers of Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases project. […] Because of the potential danger, the facility requires very specialized air handlers to make sure researchers and the surrounding community are safe. The lab is the first building in the planned UT Baptist Research Park that will also house a new College of Pharmacy building." (Knox News; 06Jul09; Source: AP) http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2009/jul/06/memphis-lab-ready-research-diseases-bioterrorism/

Georgia poorly prepared for public health emergencies
"Tied for sixth-worst among 56 states and territories, Georgia ranked ahead of Hawaii and the Northern Mariana Islands, for example, while trailing Guam and American Samoa. This was just one among many measurements raising doubts about Georgia's preparedness to prevent, detect and contain most significant public health threats: outbreaks of pandemic influenza and foodborne illness, and acts of bioterrorism. Federal agencies, nonprofit groups and the state's own documents depict a public health system that lacks sufficient money and, at times, basic competencies. […] Georgia ranks 39th among the states in spending per resident on public health, despite having the nation's ninth-largest economic output. […]The state […] is not ready to manage large numbers of fatalities caused by a pandemic. It doesn't have adequate plans to keep government agencies running and to protect public employees. It isn't even prepared to provide one of the most basic, yet critical, needs in an
emergency: health care." (Atlanta Journal Constitution; 05Jul09; Alan Judd) http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/stories/2009/07/05/georgia_public_health.html

Chemical weapons incinerator now in final phase [Birmingham, AL]
"The Army's $1 billion chemical weapons incinerator in Alabama started its final phase of work by taking apart dozens of old mortars filled with mustard agent, officials said Friday. Explosive charges were removed from more than 60 of the shells, which will be drained later, said incinerator spokesman Mike Abrams. Workers will burn the liquid chemical once they have stored enough of it in tanks to operate an incinerator used to destroy liquids, he said, and they will incinerate the metal parts in a separate burner. […] In all, more than 200,000 mortars and artillery shells and a few 1-ton containers of mustard agent must be destroyed. […] They hold a total of 988 tons of the chemical. The last of thousands of weapons filled with the dangerous chemical should be emptied, chopped up and burned by early 2012, when workers will then begin decontaminating and decommissioning the complex, located about 50 miles east of Birmingham. […] Work to destroy the mustard-filled weapons began late Thursday. Anniston is home to the nation's only chemical weapons destruction plant located near a populated area, and the military provided safety gear to many of the 35,000 people who live within nine miles of the incinerator before work began. No major accidents have occurred." (Montgomery Advisor; 04Jul09; Source: Jay Reeves, AP) http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/article/20090704/NEWS02/907040315/Chemical+weapons+incinerator+now+in+final+phase

Bomb seizures spark far-right terror plot fear [England]
"A network of suspected far-right extremists with access to 300 weapons and 80 bombs has been uncovered by counter-terrorism detectives. Thirty-two people have been questioned in a police operation that raises the prospect of a right-wing bombing campaign against mosques. […] In England's largest seizure of a suspected terrorist arsenal since the IRA mainland bombings of the early 1990s, rocket launchers, grenades, pipe bombs and dozens of firearms have been recovered in the past six weeks during raids on more than 20 properties. […] Police are examining allegations that many of the guns were manufactured or reactivated, then sold over the internet to viewers of a right-wing website. […] Fears have been heightened by the discovery of an alleged plot involving ricin, a lethal poison; two men have been been charged with offences under the Terrorism Act." (Sunday Times Online; 05Jul09; David Leppard) http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article6638139.ece

Millions of Muscovites [Moscow natives] at risk of toxic waste poisoning
"Crowds of Muscovites are flocking city parks, but few are aware that a popular place of leisure used to be a testing ground for chemical and biological weapons and remnants from those experiments are still buried there. Thousands visit Moscow's Kuzminki park each day for a scenic walk or a good catch, and it doesn't look like a toxic graveyard at all. […] Despite its location, after World War I, Kuzminki was set up by the Soviets to test their newest chemical and biological weapons. When the authorities decided to move it further out in the 1940s, the clean-up operation was rudimentary at best. […] The removal of toxic chemicals would be expensive - an operation on a similar site in the US in 2005 cost over half a billion dollars. 'We need a study to evaluate the exact level of risk in order to understand what the exact risk of contamination is, and what we should do next,' says Efim Brodsky from the Institute of Ecology and Evolution." (Russia Today; 03Jul09) http://www.russiatoday.com/Top_News/2009-07-03/Millions_of_Muscovites_at_risk_of_toxic_waste_poisoning.html

NYPD gets radiation detectors to search for bombs
"The US Department of Homeland Security has given three state-of-the-art radiation detectors to the New York Police Department to patrol city streets in search of dirty bombs and other nuclear threats. The 450,000-dollar worth Advanced Spectroscopic Portal Monitors will be placed in three SUVs on Wednesday at entrances to tunnels, bridges and tollbooths. […] Officials believe they will be able to detect radioactive isotopes emanating from a dirty bomb in the back of a car. 'We think they'll be useful getting hits on vehicles on the road,' a NYPD official said. Recently, the department had also purchased 8,000 Dosimeters, pager-sized detectors to be given to police if there is a nuclear attack. Outfitted in protective gear, officers would use the Dosimeters to find 'hot spots' of radiation." (Police One; 05Jul09) http://www.policeone.com/news/1852913-NYPD-gets-radiation-detectors-to-search-for-bombs/

Defending against chemical, biological weapons [Dugway, UT]
"At a U.S. Army facility called the Dugway Proving Ground […] groups of scientists are researching how to defend against a wide variety of potentially lethal, or at least dangerous, 'agents.' 'Dugway's primary mission is testing United States and Allied chemical and biological (CB) defense systems and also performing nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) contamination survivability testing of defense materiel,' a fact sheet about Dugway reads. […] '(Dugway) uses its state-of-the-art laboratories and chambers in concert with extensive field test grids to fully determine the performance characteristics of items being tested.' […] Dugway's primary mission is to test protective equipment against chemical and biological agents. […] The Army wants [people] to feel some comfort in the idea that it has put a group of seasoned professionals in charge of coming up with the data that the country's policymakers can use to guard our soldiers in the field and our civilians at home and abroad against the effects of non-conventional attacks." (Cnet News; 03Jul09; Daniel Terdiman) http://news.cnet.com/8301-13772_3-10278844-52.html

White powder sent to CBN [Christian Broadcasting Network] was whey powder [Virginia Beach, VA]
"Authorities say a white powder substance that was mailed to the Christian Broadcasting Network headquarters in Virginia, causing several employees to be isolated for six hours, was whey protein powder. Virginia Beach fire spokesman Tim Riley says lab work determined the powder was the kind used by body builders, not a biohazard such as anthrax or ricin. CBN spokesman Chris Roslan says two employees opened the envelope containing white powder Wednesday morning. Those employees, a CBN security guard, and a U.S. postal service inspector were placed on precautionary medical watch until officials received the test results." (One News Now; 04Jul09; Source: AP)

Three KY congressmen receive threatening letters
"At least three congressional offices in Kentucky have received threatening letters that purported to contain anthrax [spores]. The offices of U.S. Reps. Geoff Davis, Brett Guthrie and Ed Whitfield received the letters in the mail Monday morning. Guthrie spokesman Nate Hodson said a staffer in the Bowling Green office opened one of the letters and immediately called authorities. Hodson said the first line of that letter said the envelope contained anthrax [sic]. Davis spokeswoman Alexandra Haynes said a similar letter arrived at the Fort Mitchell office. She said the letter apparently was sent by a prison inmate. She didn't know which prison. Hodson and Haynes said investigators determined that the anthrax threat was a hoax." (Lex18; 06Jul09; Source: AP) http://www.lex18.com/Global/story.asp?S=10649300

Man [Gary Collins] faces sentence for airport bomb hoaxes [England]
"A man who pleaded guilty to sending a series of bomb hoaxes and threats to Gatwick Airport is to be sentenced. Gary Collins, 57, committed the offences during a five-year period from October 2003 to October last year. He pleaded guilty to 34 counts of communicating false information when he appeared at Lewes Crown Court in May. Collins, of Garden Walk, West Green, Crawley, also admitted three counts of sending hoax noxious substances to the West Sussex airport. Prosecutor Amy Packham said all the charges related to Gatwick Airport 'either as bomb hoaxes or sending substances marked as anthrax or bio-material.' Sussex Police said that Collins sent more than 80 letters during his terror campaign. These included bomb hoaxes and sinister packages, including three anthrax threats containing powder and one package containing what appeared to be an explosive device." (Hastings Observer; 06Jul09) http://www.hastingsobserver.co.uk/latest-south-east-news/Man-faces-sentence-for-airport.5431499.jp

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