War on Terrorism

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News, July 8, 2009

New military drone based on bats [detects biological weapons agents]
"U.S. researchers say they used real bats as the inspiration for a new type of military surveillance drone equipped with wings that flap. The 'micro-aerial vehicle,' developed at North Carolina State University, is used to monitor activities on the ground and detect biological weapons. It was designed with a lightweight skeleton and mechanical 'muscle' system similar to a bat's and can be used to monitor movements on the ground or detect the presence of biological weapons. 'We have used a shape-memory metal alloy that is super-elastic for the joints,' designer Stefan Seelecke told Britain's The Daily Telegraph. 'The material provides a full range of motion, but will always return to its original position - a function performed by many tiny bones, cartilage and tendons in real bats.' […] The 'flying bat' was designed to improve the maneuverability of micro-aerial vehicles. It is about the size of a real bat, runs on a solar battery and is self-guiding. The project is still in the prototype stage." (United Press International; 08Jul09) http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2009/07/08/New-military-drone-based-on-bats/UPI-34341247064737/

Universal detection technology submits proposal to a RFI [Request For Information] from the department of homeland security
"Universal Detection Technology [...] reported today that it has submitted a proposal to a Request For Information (RFI) from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The RFI is for the Time Recorded Ubiquitous Sensor Technologies (TRUST) project initiated by the DHS. The TRUST project was initiated by the DHS Science & Technology (S&T) Directorate to solicit innovative solutions to detect and provide alert to the presence of dangerous cargo in maritime shipping containers during their transit to U.S. ports. [...] The TRUST project is distinct from the Safe Container (SAFECON) project initiated by the Department of Homeland Security's DHS S&T Directorate with the issuance of Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) and a subsequent RFI. Although both projects seek to detect dangerous cargo, the technical breakthrough sought through the SAFECON project focuses on the short dwell-time goal whereas TRUST project goals are to detect the presence of dangerous cargo while the container transits from the port of origin to its U.S. port of destination. […] TRUST also allows system components to be mounted on or internal to the container." (Market Wire;

New way to make sensors that detect toxic chemicals
"Ohio State University [OSU] researchers have developed a new method for making extremely pure, very small metal-oxide nanoparticles. They are using this simple, fast, and low-temperature process to make materials for gas sensors that detect toxic industrial chemicals (TICs) and biological [sic, chemical] warfare agents. […] Patricia Morris, associate professor of materials science and engineering at Ohio State, leads a team of researchers who develop solid materials that can detect toxic chemicals. […] 'These are sensors that a soldier could wear on the battlefield, or a first responder could wear to an accident at a chemical plant,' Morris said. The material under study is nickel oxide, which has unusual electrical properties. [… It's] electrical conductance changes when toxic chemicals in the air settle on its surface. [OSU Student Elvin] Beach applies a thin coating of the material onto microelectro-mechanical systems (made in a similar fashion to computer chips), with a goal of identifying known toxic substances. […] Beach and Morris have devised a new synthesis method that yields very small particles - which give the sensor a large surface area to capture chemical molecules from the air [and] enable the sensor to detect even very small quantities of a substance. […] A one-gram batch of nickel oxide nanoparticles costs about $5.00 to make; one chip carries four nanograms (billionths of a gram) of material, so each sensor costs only pennies to fabricate." (News Wise; 08Jul09; Source: Ohio State University) http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/554071/

Depot crews detect leaking mustard container [OR]
"Depot chemical operations monitoring workers detected trace amounts of HD mustard chemical agent vapor today inside a depot storage structure or 'igloo' that houses bulk containers. The traces of mustard chemical agent vapor were detected during routine weekly monitoring. The vapor is likely due to a leaking bulk container. […] 'The igloos have a passive filtration system that prevents chemical agent vapor from escaping outside the structures,' [Jim] Hackett [Umatilla Chemical Depot public affairs specialist] said. 'As a further protective measure after each leak is discovered, a powered filtration system was installed on the igloo. The leaking container will be identified, inspected, repaired as necessary, and decontaminated.' The depot is currently disposing of the HD mustard ton containers in its final agent disposal campaign after successfully destroying its stockpile of GB Sarin and VX nerve agents." (Hermiston Herald; 07Jul09)

Chemical weapons cleanup [Cardiff, Wales]
"Researchers have found a safe, speedy and environmentally friendly way to clean up chemical weapons such as sulfur mustard, using a hydrogen peroxide-based microemulsion decontamination system. The UK-based research team used a number of different techniques to measure and analyse catalytic oxidative decontamination of sulfur mustard. […] One of the most practical ways to decontaminate these toxic substances is to oxidise the sulphur mustard to the sulfoxide with liquid decontaminants, but most suitable oxidants are water-soluble while sulphur mustard is water immiscible. This has been tackled in the past by using micellar or oil-in-water microemulsions, but still leaves the problem that most active liquid decontaminants are highly corrosive and not environmentally friendly. Hydrogen peroxide solutions could provide an answer as they are stable, non-corrosive, atom efficient oxidants with low environmental impact. […] The team investigated catalysts that are oil soluble or surface active to tune selectivity and reaction rates, and achieved decontamination half-lives as fast as 18 seconds with dilute hydrogen peroxide as the oxidant." (Chemistry World; 08Jul09; Ned Stafford) http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/News/2009/July/08070902.asp

Fort Detrick caps toxic waste [MD]
"Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Agency put the site of major toxic waste contamination at Fort Detrick in Frederick on its Superfund National Priorities list. […] Environmental clean-up specialists are in the middle-phases of a program to create a landfill 'cap' on an area known as 'Area B' in a remote northwest corner of the Fort Detrick installation. The reason is simple, says Joe Gortva, the restoration manager heading up what is called the 17 year 'remediation' effort at Detrick. 'In 1992, off-post contamination from Area B was first detected in residential wells,' he told a briefing for Senator Ben Cardin (D.-Md.) held in a field not far from where a backhoe and two bulldozers pushed and molded tons of freshly-trucked-in fill dirt and gravel into the cap designed to deter the spread of chemicals from decades of biological weapons research. Immediately after discovering the contamination […] the Army […] arranged to have municipal water supplies hooked up to the homes. […] The cap is designed to keep rainwater from penetrating into the contaminated soil, and pushing the biological wastes and chemicals further into the groundwater, which can be as much as 400 feet below the surface. Scientists have learned that it is just as effective to cap the contaminated soil, and keep rainwater from spreading the chemicals further, rather than excavating the soil and contaminants and dumping it somewhere else." (Federal News Radio; 07Jul09; Max Cacas) http://www.federalnewsradio.com/index.php?nid=35&sid=1712010

Energy security takes on new meaning - as pipeline bombings continue, some companies are going paramilitary [discusses private security for nuclear power plants]
"Politicians promised to beef up security but […] there is only so much our police can do. That is why some Canadian energy companies took security matters into their own hands. […] The Nuclear Response Team at Bruce Power in Ontario is an elite force of former police and military personnel, who are armed with automatic weapons and armoured assault vehicles. […] [After 9/11, the] Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission authorized private companies to set up their own heavily armed security forces [as] first responders, with such military-grade weapons as C8s and MP5s. […] The Nuclear Safety Commission did this because nuclear plants are a potential target of terrorists who might try to blow up a reactor or steal nuclear waste to make a 'dirty bomb.' […] If Bruce Power was allowed to build a nuclear plant in Alberta, it would have to set up a private security force with machine guns and assault vehicles. Proponents might feel that makes the plant an even safer idea. But opponents could say with some authority a nuclear power plant is such a target that energy companies literally need an army to guard it." (Edmonton Journal; 07Jul09; Graham Thomson) http://www.edmontonjournal.com/news/Energy+security+takes+meaning/1766522/story.html

Feds restore 'dirty bomb' funds [to New York, NY]
"Police sources last week said that thanks to $10 million in federal funding restored under the 'Securing The Cities' initiative, the NYPD is developing plans to install a ring of sensors around the Big Apple to alert law enforcement to the presence of a nuclear or biological device. The restored funding allows the NYPD to install radiation detectors in police vehicles and arm cops with the devices. The funds also enable the NYPD to work with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies, to 'form a ring around the city to protect its citizens.' Teams of Queens police and FBI agents participated in a mock drill early last month, which successfully demonstrated the need for the sensors, the sources said. Law enforcement officials were hoping the results of the drill would encourage restoration of the federal funds. 'In this day and age, we have to be concerned to not let our guard down,' [Police Commissioner Raymond] Kelly said. 'With the NYPD and the FBI working together, we have the most robust defense system against nuclear and biological attack.'" (Queens Gazette; 08Jul09; Liz Goff) http://www.qgazette.com/news/2009/0708/features/027.html

Officials unveil response vehicle [Burleson, TX]
"The Burleson Police Department unveiled the city's newest response truck, a Lenco Bearcat four-wheel-drive armored vehicle at the city's service center Wednesday. The vehicle was obtained through a Homeland Security grant for $227,411. The incident response vehicle is designed to cope with chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive incidents and will be available to other jurisdictions. […] According to the grant, 'The vehicle will allow officers to respond with the ability to detect nuclear and explosive gas weapons. The vehicle will protect officers from the threat of small arms fire and explosive devices. Officers will be able to gain command and control through the use of this vehicle. This vehicle provides a much needed tool for officers to safely conduct these operations whether they are terrorist-related, tactical in nature, or a natural disaster.' Training of Burleson officers as well as officers of surrounding agencies will be an ongoing process so all tactical teams will be able to promptly deploy and provide for the safety of officers and residents." (Burleson-Crowley Connection; 07Jul09) http://www.burlesoncrowley.com/publish/article_2936.shtml

Warren [Air Force Base] hosts national-level exercise [WY]
"A simulated terrorist attack on a 90th Missile Wing ICBM [intercontinental ballistic missile] launch facility provided the exercise scenario for Nuclear Weapon Accident/Incident Exercise 2009. This national-level exercise involving 11 federal agencies and 1,300 personnel was the largest and most complex exercise ever conducted at a missile base. Accident response and associated consequent management procedures are routinely practiced by local responders and the 90th Missile Wing; however, this exercise was made far more complex by the criminal aspect associated with terrorist activities. […] The exercise challenged responders in several ways. Balancing the need for personnel safety in a potentially hazardous situation while allowing law enforcement officials to gather time critical evidence for criminal response, required a clear understanding of the risks involved. Minutes counted in determining which terrorist group was responsible and developing courses of action to track and capture them. […] In addition to the FBI, major exercise players included the Department of Energy providing weapon system technical expertise, Homeland Security and FEMA for consequence management, US Northern Command for operational command of the IRF/RTF, the State of Wyoming and the Wyoming Guard for initial response and logistical support, and Air Force Space Command for filling key RTF leadership positions." (Air Force Space Command; 08Jul09)

Yemen bans chemical, biological arms
"The cabinet approved in its Tuesday meeting a draft law concern[ing] works of the National Committee to Ban Chemical, Biological and Poisonous Arms. The cabinet directed concerned officials to complete necessary measures to issue the draft into law, which was presented by [the] Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The fifth item of the law defines main duties of the committee; monitoring and following up on all affairs related to Yemen's implementation of the international treaty for banning [the] creation, production, store and use of biological and poisonous weapons as well as destroying those arms […] and [the] implementation of the international treaty to ban creation, production, storing and use chemical weapons. […] The committee also sponsors the state's relations with concerned international agencies and the treaty's member states. […] The committee is authorized to suggest draft legislations to banning trafficking and illegal use of chemical, biological and poisonous substances as well as regulations and controls needed to organize process of importing, trafficking and use of those substances and other duties regarding the committee's work." (Yemen News Agency; 07Jul09) http://www.sabanews.net/en/news188602.htm

Victim's white powder scare [Gladstone, Queensland]
"A woman who turned up at Gladstone police station with an envelope containing white powder sparked a major alert yesterday. The woman, 43, was immediately isolated in the police station's carpark, and emergency services were quickly called to the scene about 10.30am. Gladstone's Senior Sergeant Julia Cook said yesterday the white powder had later been confirmed as 'non-suspicious.' The woman had been sent the white powder by a man, in an attempt to threaten her, she said. […] Gladstone's Queensland Fire Rescue Services officers donned safety gear to enter the sealed area and take a sample, which was found to be flour. Detective Wayne Butcher said CIB officers were seeking to identify the person who sent the package." (Morning Bulletin, Rockhampton; 07Jul09) http://www.themorningbulletin.com.au/story/2009/07/07/white-powder-posted-in-mail-sparks-police-station-/

Federal offices receive hoax anthrax [sic] threats [KY]
"Federal offices around Kentucky received letters Monday that contained anthrax threats, leading to lockdowns and safety checks in several places, authorities said. The threats turned out to be false. Tests showed the letters contained no harmful substances. […] Mike Klein, U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of Kentucky, said he understood that an inmate at the Big Sandy federal prison in Martin County mailed 25 to 50 letters. [...] Klein said he was told that the inmate later admitted that the substance in the letters was Sweet 'N Low artificial sweetener. [...] Letters arrived Monday at the federal courthouses in London, Frankfort and Pikeville. Threatening letters also arrived at the offices of U.S. Reps. Brett Guthrie in Bowling Green; John Yarmuth in Louisville; Geoff Davis in Northern Kentucky; and Ed Whitfield. [...] Officials said the letters had been turned over to the FBI." (Lexington Herald Leader; 07Jul09; Bill Estep and Dori Hjalmarson) http://www.kentucky.com/latest_news/story/854381.html

Police drop case of [FL] Gov. Charlie Crist 'anthrax' letter [sic]
"Without charging any suspects, state police closed an investigation into a threatening letter that contained a fake anthrax powder [sic] that was sent last August to Gov. Charlie Crist. The letter bore the last name and return address of a former St. Petersburg police officer. The former officer suspected that it might have been sent by a former girlfriend or the ex-husband of his fiancee, according to Florida Department of Law Enforcement documents released last week. Handwriting and DNA analyses of the letter and the stamps, however, proved inconclusive, according to the FDLE." (Miami Herald; 08Jul09) http://www.miamiherald.com/news/southflorida/story/1131872.html

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