War on Terrorism

Monday, July 20, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News, July 20, 2009

Robin Robinson: improving the government's pandemic response
"The Biomedical Advanced Research Development Authority [BARDA], under the leadership of Robin Robinson, has worked hard to put the U.S. government in a stronger position than it was a few years ago to confront any potential pandemic. […] An arm of the Health and Human Services (HHS) department, BARDA provides a systematic approach to the development and purchase of vaccines, drugs, therapies and diagnostic tools to support public health emergencies and protect Americans from bioterrorism. Robinson's office works with drug manufacturers and is coordinating the development and purchase of a swine flu vaccine that will be tested and available this fall. […] In addition to supporting the creation of flu vaccines, Robinson manages the procurement and advanced development of medical countermeasures for chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear agents. That involves supporting development of new medical countermeasures to anthrax, smallpox, botulism [sic] and a variety of other biochemical threats. […] Robinson said that […] he feels 'honored to have the opportunity to lead this organization and make a difference in public health and preparedness for the American people." (Washington Post; 20Jul09)
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/20/AR2009072000893.html

CDC proposes to list SARS [severe acute respiratory syndrome] virus as select agent
"Federal health officials are proposing to list the virus that causes SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) as a select agent, which means that dozens of laboratories possessing it will have to register with the government and adopt various security measures. Agents are added to the federal list of 'select agents and toxins' if the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regards them as potentially posing a severe threat to public health and safety. The proposal regarding the SARS-associated coronavirus was announced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in a Jul 13 Federal Register notice. The agency said the designation is needed because the virus is potentially fatal and easily spread, there is no vaccine or effective treatment for it, and it can persist in the environment. […] CDC records show that 138 entities, most of them commercial, currently possess the SARS virus, and 73 of them are already registered with the Select Agent Program of either HHS or the US Department of Agriculture, the notice says. That means 65 labs or facilities will need to register if the virus is listed as a select agent. Besides registering with the program, those groups will have to provide adequate biosafety and physical security measures, screen personnel with access to the virus, and meet record-keeping requirements, the CDC says."
(Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy; 17Jul09; Robert Roos) http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidrap/content/other/sars/news/jul1709sars.html

Feds, states believe they're prepared for H1N1 vaccination plan
"Fearing that the H1N1 influenza virus will emerge stronger and perhaps more virulent next flu season, the federal government is preparing to push vaccines to the states for distribution once the decision to vaccinate the public is made. […] According to state public health directors and other officials, especially from the states hit the hardest by H1N1 early this year, they believe they are prepared to deal with a mass vaccination program and all the attendant problems that accompany it; but they would like more direction and guidance from HHS and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regarding logistical issues." (Homeland Security Insight and Analysis; 14Jul09; Anthony Kimery) http://www.hstoday.us/content/view/9362/149/

Judge dismisses suit against feds for Kan[sas] biolab
"A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a Texas consortium protesting the Homeland Security Department's choice of Kansas for a multimillion-dollar biodefense lab. The judge [Mary Ellen Coster Williams] decided the lawsuit was premature and dismissed it without prejudice, opening the way for the Texas Bio- and Agro-Defense Consortium to refile the lawsuit later, which the group said it may do. […] She said the lab may never materialize and noted that a deal had not been made for Kansas to provide land in Manhattan, Kan. for the lab. The Kansas Board of Regents has agreed to provide the land but the Homeland Security Department has not signed that agreement. […] The Kansas site was recommended unanimously by a panel of staffers from the Homeland Security and Agriculture Department and was picked in a transparent process, said spokeswoman Amy Kudwa. […] The Homeland Security Department hopes to award a contract estimated to be at least $525 million by September and break ground on the lab next summer. […] To argue for dismissal of the Texas suit, a Justice Department lawyer had to persuade the judge that construction of the lab at the Kansas site was not yet set in stone. Jim Dublin, a spokesman for the Texas consortium, said the department 'is leading us down the rabbit hole by claiming it does not know how, when and if it will build the bio-agro research facility in Kansas' even though it has said it chose Kansas." (Google News; 18Jul09; Suzanne Gamboa, AP) http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gF10hzkUPBSBldrJmafLAMzuPgMQD99GFP3G0

Mumbai airport gets technology to fight swine flu [and other microorganisms]
"Few know that in the Mumbai airport area where passengers are being screened for the [swine flu] virus, is a new technology that may take care of all worries. Developed by NASA, this technology is the same as the one that purifies air in space stations. Airocide, […] a photocatalytic enconditioning system is capable of destroying microorganisms including anthrax [bacteria] and the swine flu virus. Air suctioned into the machine, Airocide, is made to collide with hydroxyl radicals that are very reactive in the presence of UV light. The reaction mineralises and completely destroys not just microorganisms, but even gases, releasing pure air with traces of carbon dioxide and water vapour. […] Virus experts, though, stress on periodic monitoring of not just the air quality level, but also the system for post market surveillance. Director [of the] Haffkine Institute for Training, Research & Testing, Dr Abhay Chowdhary says,'We should not take it for granted as it's technology from outside the country.'" (IBN Live; 20Jul09; Aruna Ramesh) http://ibnlive.in.com/news/mumbai-airport-fitted-with-technology-to-fight-swine-flu/97528-17.html

Army report finds faulty monitoring at KY depot
"An Army inspector general's report concludes a chemical weapons stockpile in Kentucky inadequately monitored deadly nerve agent housed there for at least two years. It found no evidence anybody was exposed to the agent. The report covering September 2003 through August 2005 at the Blue Grass Army Depot in Richmond was obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request by the watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. Blue Grass Chemical Activity spokesman Richard Sloan said Monday he hadn't seen the report and had no immediate comment." (Lexington Herald Leader; 20Jul09; Jeffrey McMurray, AP) http://www.kentucky.com/471/story/868022.html

House attempts to extend chemical security act
"The House of Representatives is working on extending a law set to expire in October that aims to harden chemical facilities against terrorist attacks. Officials with the Department of Homeland Security's chemical facilities antiterrorism standards program, or CFATS, have not had enough time to fully assess all of the country's chemical facilities that may be vulnerable to terrorist attacks. Under a law Congress passed in 2007, facilities identified as the most vulnerable […] must inventory all hazardous materials, carry out a vulnerability assessment, then draw up site security plans to address any risks. There are some 7,000 such sites in the United States. The revised law, the Chemical Facilities Antiterrorism Act of 2009, will fine tune the regulations and make CFATS rules permanent. 'By requiring the highest-risk facilities to switch to safer chemicals or processes when it is economically and technologically possible to do so, this legislation will make our communities less vulnerable to a terrorist-designed Bhopal in Boston, Baton Rouge or Buffalo,' said Ed Markey, D-Mass., chairman of the House Commerce Committee's subcommittee on energy, at the hearing. […] CFATS program advisors will also be working closely with the Coast Guard's Maritime Transportation Security Act program advisors to coordinate their antiterrorism efforts to protect U.S. ports and ships that transport chemicals." (National Defense Magazine; Aug09; Katie Breitbach) http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/archive/2009/August/Pages/HouseAttemptstoExtendChemicalSecurityAct.aspx

U of S [University of Saskatchewan] snags international interest
"A new emergency ventilation system being developed at the U of S, is catching some international attention. The eWar system is designed to protect large public buildings from chemical warfare or medical outbreaks. If a disease or chemical gets into the air vents eWar will detect them, filter out the harmful agents, and alert the occupants. Lead researcher Janusz Kozinski says they've already attracted some interest from some big names. Even the US air force has expressed interest for their hospitals around the world. Full scale testing will be done in the spring of 2010, and after that they will begin to market the system." (Saskatoon Media; 20Jul09)
http://www.saskatoonhomepage.ca/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=19604&Itemid=281

OPCW begins 10th annual associate programme
"The OPCW launched its annual Associate Programme on 20 July 2009 at the OPCW headquarters in The Hague, the tenth in a series that began in 2000. The objective of the Associate Programme is to provide greater understanding of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) for chemists and chemical engineers from OPCW Member States with developing economies, focusing on the peaceful uses of chemistry. The programme aims to enhance Member States' national capacity for implementing the CWC by offering training in chemistry to personnel from industry, universities and government agencies, and to facilitate trade through the adoption of best practices in the chemical industry. It also broadens the pool of future recruits for National Authorities, institutions and economies of Member States as well as for the Technical Secretariat. […] This year's programme will include 28 Associates from 27 countries, including 15 participants from 14 African countries. The 10-week curriculum is designed to provide a broader understanding of advanced industrial practice with an emphasis on chemical safety." (OPCW; 20Jul09) http://www.opcw.org/news/news/article/opcw-begins-10th-annual-associate-programme/

[Former Attorney General John] Ashcroft speaks at one of two major Fort Leonard Wood events this month [MO]
"Two major conferences are coming later this month to Fort Leonard Wood, one of them featuring John Ashcroft […]. Ashcroft's speech will be part of the Joint Senior Leaders' Course, held from Wednesday, July 23 to Friday, July 25, which focuses on chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear training being offered by Fort Leonard Wood's CBRN School. Ashcroft is scheduled to speak from 12:45 to 2 p.m. on Friday on the subject of combating weapons of mass destruction in a post-9/11 environment. […] According to a Fort Leonard Wood press release, the Joint Senior Leaders' Course will 'present various aspects of CBRN defense, with an operational- and strategic-level focus, to leadership wanting to increase their understanding of current CBRN issues and having a need to integrate CBRN considerations into their commands, staffs or organizations.' […] A special conference will be held at Fort Leonard Wood the following week that specifically focuses on foreign military issues of American allies."
(Pulaski County Daily; 18Jul09; Darrell Todd Maurina) http://www.pulaskicountydaily.com/news.php?viewStory=1080

Crime drops despite fewer officers in lean times [NY, discusses WMD preparedness budget cuts]
"The New York City Police Department is set to shrink to 34,304 officers within a year, which is 16 percent fewer than the department's high of 41,000 nearly a decade ago. Cash for police work is dwindling at City Hall and in Washington. Civilian members of the force are facing layoffs. Station houses are not ideally staffed. More than 1,000 officers remain assigned to counterterrorism duties. […] At the Police Academy, the flow of new recruits has slowed to a trickle. Yet despite these challenges, crime is down in New York - more significantly than in several other big cities around the nation. […] Recently, a federal budget bill eliminated $40 million in anticipated grants for a program called Securing the Cities, which would create links with law enforcement agencies within a 50-mile radius around the city, and would outfit officers with radiation detectors to spot a nuclear or radiological threat long before it reaches its intended target. [Commissioner Raymond W.] Kelly called two members of Congress - Peter T. King, a Republican from Long Island, and Yvette D. Clarke, a Democrat from Brooklyn - to push for the restoration of the federal money. But he believed he needed more support, aides said. […] He squeezed in a quick but intense phone call with George A. Dalley, an aide to Representative Charles B. Rangel, who is the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. Two days later, news came that the grant was restored in the House of Representatives, though the issue was still unresolved in the Senate." (New York Times; 17Jul09; Al Baker) http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/18/nyregion/18nypd.html?_r=1&hp

India, US plan to move ahead on fissile material cut-off pact
"India and the US today agreed to move ahead towards a non-discriminatory, internationally and effectively verifiable Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty and pledged to cooperate to prevent nuclear terrorism. This was decided during the hour-long talks between External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in New Delhi. […] Both the countries also decided to cooperate to prevent nuclear terrorism and address challenges of global nuclear proliferation. […] The two leaders [Krishna and Clinton] took note of the enhanced co-operation in defence under the Defence Co-operation Framework Agreement of 2005 and underlined the commitment of both governments to pursue mutually beneficial cooperation in the field of defence." (Times Now, India; 20Jul09) http://www.timesnow.tv/India-US-plan-to-move-ahead-on-Fissile-Material-Cut-off-pact/articleshow/4322695.cms

Scotland is still vulnerable to attack, warns security expert; Grampian force want to beef up counter-terrorism unit
"A security expert last night warned Scotland was not immune from attack as it emerged that one of the largest police forces in the country want to strengthen their counter-terrorism unit. David Capitanchik said the country was as vulnerable as the rest of the UK, particularly in the north and north-east because of the offshore industry, the royal estate at Balmoral, Aberdeen Airport, and the huge St Fergus gas terminal near Peterhead. Mr Capitanchik, an honorary professor at the Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, was speaking after Grampian Police advertised for a new counter-terrorism security adviser (CTSA). The force wants to add to their existing team and need someone who can offer expertise and advice to officers and businesses during bomb threats and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear incidents. […] Mr Capitanchik said the terrorist attack on Glasgow Airport in 2007 acted as a reminder to many forces that stringent contingency plans for similar incidents were essential. […] Armed guards began patrolling two north-east gas installations over fears they could be targets for international terrorists. 'Counter-terrorism is certainly an area that has seen an added importance in recent years and a lot of attention is now paid to it,' he said. 'There are general threats that apply throughout the UK, but with additional potential security issues in the north-east. There is no reason why the north-east and Scotland as a whole should be treated any differently to the rest of the country.'" (Press and Journal; 20Jul09; Stephen Christie) http://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/Article.aspx/1313943/?UserKey=

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