Friday, July 10, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News, July 10, 2009

New drug fights anthrax [bacteria's] toxin
"Scientists in a U.S.-funded study said an experimental anthrax treatment from Human Genome Sciences Inc. increased survival in animals infected with the deadly disease. This led them to believe that the drug […] called raxibacumab, might safely cure anthrax poisoning in humans. In an article published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers said although antibiotics can kill the anthrax bacteria, they are not effective in killing the toxins produced by the bacteria and raxibacumab, specifically targets those toxins once they enter the bloodstream. […] Sally Bolmer, senior vice president of development and regulatory affairs at Human Genome Sciences Inc., and lead researcher said, 'This drug strengthens America's arsenal against bioterrorism that would work in the face of antibiotic-resistant anthrax bacterium. […] It [also] acts more quickly than vaccine,' […] Bolmer said. […] The government-funded study although intended for humans was conducted on monkeys due to prohibitions on infecting human subjects with anthrax [bacteria]. […] Approval of the drug [also known as Abthrax] by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is pending. […] The researchers said the drug was also tested in 333 healthy humans to determine how they responded to therapeutic doses equivalent to those given to the animals. […] The study found based on animal research that a single dose of Abthrax would provide at least 95 % of human's sufficient levels of the drug in their blood for 28 days." (U.S. News and World Report; 08Jul09; Steven Reinberg, Health Daily Reporter)

Review of the scientific approaches used during the FBI's investigation of the 2001 bacillus anthracis mailings
"In response to a formal request from the Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI], the National Academies will conduct an independent review of the scientific approaches used during the investigation of the 2001 Bacillus anthracis (B. anthracis) mailings. An ad hoc committee with relevant expertise will evaluate the scientific foundation for the specific techniques used by the FBI to determine whether these techniques met appropriate standards for scientific reliability and for use in forensic validation and whether the FBI reached appropriate scientific conclusions from its use of these techniques. In instances where novel scientific methods were developed for purposes of the FBI investigation itself, the committee will pay particular attention to whether these methods were appropriately validated. The committee will review and assess scientific evidence […] considered in connection with the 2001 Bacillus anthracis mailings. In assessing this body of information, the Committee will limit its inquiry to the scientific approaches, methodologies, and analytical techniques used during the investigation of the 2001 B. anthracis mailings." (National Academy of Sciences; 10Jul09)

Kennewick engineering firm to draft plan for depot land, several entities weighing in on possible uses [OR]
"The Umatilla Chemical Depot Land Reuse Authority [LRA] made a concrete step toward coming up with a plan for what will happen to the lands the depot sits on after it finishes destroying nerve agent in 2012 or 2013. […] [County Commissioner and LRA Chairman Bill] Hansell said he would like to see the depot ground become an economic hub. […] The Oregon National Guard has shown interest in having it become a training area and the tribes have suggested leaving it as a natural area. Though the contract hasn't been drawn up yet, the LRA chose Dana Engineering, Inc., of Kennewick. […] The firm will be working to assess items at the depot, such as land, buildings and environmental standards, along with the needs and wants of the LRA […] will work to draft a plan over the next eight months. It will also deal with Oregon-specific issues, such as land use classification. The plan will be paid for by a $704,000 grant from the Federal Office of Economic Assessment." (East Oregonian; 09Jul09; Samantha

[Senator Mitch] McConnell [R-KY] proposes more depot funding
"An extra $5 million was added Tuesday to the chemical weapons destruction project at the Blue Grass Army Depot after the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee accepted a request from U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. […] The $552.8 million total for 2010, if it is approved, will be the largest amount of funds in any fiscal year dedicated to disposing of the chemical weapons in Kentucky and Colorado. […] 'For years, the people of Madison County have lived near stockpiles of dangerous chemical weapons - and these weapons are a major threat to the community,' McConnell said. […] The additional funding sends the message that the weapons may be destroyed by the 2021 deadline, according to Craig Williams, director of the Berea-based Chemical Weapons Working Group. 'I think this is another positive sign that we are continuing to move in the right direction,' Williams said. 'Hopefully, the pattern will continue so that we can shorten the schedule.'" (Richmond Register; 09Jul09; Ronica Shannon)

Marines eager to move into new chemical warfare training facility [Beaufort, SC]
"A stack of shipping containers serves as a makeshift wall separating the classroom and storage space inside the cavernous warehouse that the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear [CBRN] Marines call home. For over four years, the CBRN Marines have trained more than 2,500 Marines and sailors each year inside the dimly lit, sometimes sweltering warehouse near the flight line at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort. That will change this year after a new, air-conditioned training center becomes their home. The CBRN Marines train base personnel how to prevent, protect against and respond to possible chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear attacks while deployed overseas. But their current conditions haven't provided the most ideal training environment. […] [The] Marines will move by the end of the year into a $3 million facility under construction half a mile away. CBRN's new building will feature a temperature-controlled classroom with improved lighting and state-of-the-art technology, as well as a new chamber for training with toxic gas. […] The new chamber will be able to hold more than 30 Marines and be equipped with an air-filtration system to eliminate environmental exposure to the gas particles after each training session. The new building is also expected to be the first on base to be certified under the national LEED [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design] program, as contractors plan to build the facility to meet stringent standards to minimize environmental impacts." (Beaufort Gazette; 09Jul09; Patrick Donohue)

India gets its universal soldier, troops to be armed with self-injecting solutions during chemical wars; will also carry anti-cyanide drug vials
"The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed two self-injectable chemicals that will be carried by soldiers to save themselves from chemical contamination. 'We have developed two auto-jet injectors which will keep soldiers safe from the ill-effects of chemicals during a war. One of the antidotes works against nerve damages, while the other one saves a soldier from blister-causing agents. Both can be administered by the soldier himself right in the battlefield,' said Dr W Selvamurthy, chief controller, Life Sciences, DRDO. These two drugs have already reached the forces and industrial partners have been roped in for their production. Another […] drug that is being developed can protect a person from cyanide poisoning. […] DRDO officials also informed that the drug can help firemen, who are often exposed to deadly fumes. […] The drug has civil uses as well. 'It can be used in cases of intentional or accidental poisoning,' said the official. […] The antidotes are being prepared by Gwalior-based Defence Research and Development Establishment (DRDE), which has applied to the Drug Controller General of India for approval. […] DRDO has incorporated vials of these […] drugs in the Nuclear-Chemical-Biological (NBC) suit that will be worn by […] soldiers in the near future. The suit is the primary protection layer against chemical contamination and special tests are being carried out to equip it with life-saving mechanisms." (Mid Day; 10Jul09; Anshuman G. Dutta)

Transportation, logistics provider AIT worldwide logistics, inc.
purchases defentect dm3, gammatect sensors for radiation threat detection "Defentect announces a $126,000 purchase of its management, monitoring and messaging software platform, DM3 and Gammatect radiation sensors. […] Since the announcement of the commercial release just two weeks ago this order marks the second commercial sale of DM3, the homeland security industry's first-to-market, fully integrated management, monitoring and messaging software platform. 'TSA [Transportation and Security Administration] reports that 50 billion pounds of domestic cargo is transported annually by passenger and all-cargo air carriers alone and the agency seeks to reduce the risks, vulnerabilities and threats to the national homeland associated with it,' said Frank O'Connor, president, Defentect. 'TSA is also shifting the responsibility for scanning and inspection of all air freight to offsite locations managed by those doing the shipping as opposed to airport staff. Defentect offers a proven, economical solution to this vertical market, integral to the establishment of an overall national and global network of threat detection in an era of CBRNE (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive) terrorism." (Logistics Online; 10Jul09)

American science and engineering, inc. receives $8.6 million follow-on order for z portal screening systems from Abu Dhabi customs
"American Science and Engineering […] announced today it has received a $8.6 million follow-on order from Abu Dhabi Customs Administration for multiple Z Portal(R) X-ray screening systems. The Z Portal systems will be used to scan vehicles at a strategic border checkpoint in Abu Dhabi, the largest emirate of the United Arab Emirates [UAE]. For maximum threat detection capability, the Z Portal systems will be configured with three Z Backscatter(TM) imaging modules for left, right, and top-down imaging of the vehicle. 'With this new order, the government of Abu Dhabi and the Custom Directorate of its Finance Department will secure additional borders in their ongoing mission to protect its citizens, facilitate trade, and collect revenues. Their comprehensive plan is focused on providing minimum trade restrictions with maximum security. […] We are delighted to play such an important role in safeguarding Abu Dhabi's ports and borders from smuggling, trade fraud, and other threats,' [said Anthony Fabiano, President and CEO]. […] Z Portal's patented Z Backscatter technology produces photo-like images for superior detection capability of plastic and liquid explosives, narcotics, plastics weapons, drugs, stowaways, and alcohol." (Fox Business; 09Jul09)

Is your city prepared for a home-made nuke?
"A panel of medical experts has just released its assessment of the technologies and therapies that could be rolled out if a home-made nuclear bomb was ever detonated in the heart of an American city. [...] The panel explored the consequences of a nuclear explosion packing a punch equivalent to 10,000 tonnes of TNT. [...] One crucial factor will be for the authorities to get an instant picture of where the fallout is going and its quantity and speed. This will make it possible to figure out who should seek shelter and who should evacuate - and in which direction. It will also ensure that rescuers are not sent on 'suicide missions' into areas of high radiation. [...] Two drugs approved last year could help cut down such [radiation] complications, says panel member Nelson Chao of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Amgen's Nplate (romiplostim), and GlaxoSmithKline's Promacta (eltrombopag) were approved for use in people with a rare condition that keeps their platelets in chronically short supply. Chao says they might also help boost platelet numbers in radiation victims, preventing dangerous blood loss and infections. It may also soon be possible to use what are known as progenitor cells to prop up the patient's immune system while the bone marrow recovers. [...] 'The cells can be grown in the lab and frozen until needed. If they are found to be safe and effective, they could be stockpiled for use in case of a nuclear attack,' says Ram Mandalam, CEO of Cellerant." (New Scientist; 08Jul09; David Shiga)

Obama now focusing on threat of nuclear terrorism
"President Barack Obama's announcement that he will host a nuclear security summit next March reflects his conviction that nuclear terrorism is not only the most immediate and extreme threat to global security, but one that must be addressed multilaterally. Mr Obama hopes the summit will galvanise an international effort to secure loose nuclear materials by 2012, break up black markets in nuclear materials, detect and intercept materials in transit, and disrupt the trade in these materials. National Security Council chief of staff Mark Lippert said the list of participants had yet to be finalised, but he expected between 25 and 30 countries to be represented. 'Essentially what we want to do is develop steps that really we can work together on to secure vulnerable materials and combat nuclear smuggling. The other piece is, I think, sort of a communique on best practices that we want to get everybody up to a certain standard,' he said. […] In Moscow this week, Mr Obama suggested that next year's nuclear security summit in the US could be followed a year later by another in Russia. […] Much remains to be agreed before next year's summit can produce a joint declaration committing all parties to a common approach to securing vulnerable nuclear materials." (Irish Times; 10Jul09; Denis Staunton)

Specialized chem-bio unit to fully stand up in 2011
"The Defense Department last year stood up the chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosive consequence management response force in order to beef up the nation's ability to respond to such attacks. The first unit now numbers between 4,500 and 5,000 personnel. Two more units will be begin operations in 2010 and 2011. […] Members from all four services comprise CCMRF [CBRNE Consequence Management Response Force] and participants rotate in and out during dwell times. […] The Marine Corps has a unit with similar capabilities - the Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, or CBIRF - but the new organization will be nearly 40 times larger and can perform large-scale logistics tasks that would otherwise exhaust CBIRF, officials said. In an emergency, CCMRF would conduct search-and-rescue missions, extract casualties or decontaminate victims after a nuclear, chemical or biological attack. The unit is also skilled in triage [… and] does not have its own equipment, but has access to ambulances, bulldozers and a myriad of other vehicles and gear used by the military services. It would take the force between 48 and 96 hours to arrive. Although if there is a known terrorist threat, units may prepare before an attack and be ready to deploy sooner." (National Defense; Jul09; Matthew Rusling)

Breathable suit protects users from hazardous materials
"Gore Chempak Selectively Permeable Fabric has been chosen by Blauer Manufacturing Co. for its single-piece chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear protective suits. The breathable material permits law enforcement and other first responders to stay active on site for up to eight hours. The new XRT suit 'is a single mission coverall that can be donned and doffed multiple times in the event of false alarms,' says a spokesman from W.L. Gore & Associates in Elkton, Md. He points out that the fabric was 'engineered from an intrinsically stable, non-carbon based membrane that does not absorb chemicals or degrade over time." (National Defense; Jul09; Robert H. Williams)

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