War on Terrorism

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News, July 29, 2009

Bioterrorism and disaster preparedness
"According to a study in a special issue of Medical Decision Making, a large-scale, covert anthrax [spore] attack on a large city would overwhelm hospital resources even with an extremely effective public health response. […] The article 'Predicting Hospital Surge after a Large-Scale Anthrax Attack: A Model-Based Analysis of CDC's Cities Readiness Initiative Prophylaxis Recommendations' [written by researchers Nathaniel Hupert, MD, MPH; Daniel Wattson, BS; Jason Cuomo, MPH; Eric Hollingsworth, BS; Kristof Neukermans, BA, MBA; and Wei Xiong, PhD.], examines one of the CDC's principal bioterrorism-response programs, the Cities Readiness Initiative (CRI), a program that recommends the medical countermeasures necessary to minimize the hospital surge resulting from anthrax-related illness and response in the first two days after a major bioterrorism attack. The researchers found that a CRI-compliant prophylaxis campaign starting two days after exposure would protect as many as 86% of exposed individuals from illness. However, each additional day needed to complete the campaign would result in as much as 3% more hospitalizations in the exposed population. Unsustainable levels of hospitalizations would result from delays in detecting and initiating response to large-scale, covert aerosol anthrax releases in a major city, even with highly effective mass prophylaxis campaigns. […] To improve the consistency and quality of these models, the Society for Medical Decision Making convened experts to recommend best practices for modeling the public health response to a terror attack." (Science Daily; 27Jul09) http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090727191916.htm

Ventura doctor works to ban biological weapons on a global level [CA]

"During World War II, Japanese forces used biological weapons to kill and sicken residents of Chinese villages to make occupation easier, [Dr. Martin] Furmanski [a pathologist] said. […] Knowledge of the Japanese program, and fears that Germany might have a similar one, prompted the creation of a U.S. biological weapons program during World War II. […] Biological weapons came to the forefront again after Sept. 11, 2001, when anthrax spores were mailed to senators and media outlets. […] Furmanski said it was an example of a recurring theme in the history of biological weapons: the weapons themselves causing less damage than their unforeseen consequences. […] Now, as a member of the nonprofit Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation's Arms Control Center Scientists Working Group on Biological and Chemical Weapons Control, he is pushing for oversight from inspectors to become part of [an] international treaty banning the [weapons] programs. […] Furmanski doesn't believe biological weapons pose any large-scale threat in the U.S. because they are difficult to make and can be counteracted after they're used by vaccinating the population. […] 'It's the only weapon of mass destruction you can negate after it's started,' he said. 'Even the highest-risk ones, we have amelioration for.'" (Ventura County Star; 28Jul09; Carolyn Quinn) http://www.venturacountystar.com/news/2009/jul/28/i-felt-i-was-in-the-room-with-something-evil-of/

WVU [West Virginia University] biology professor receives research grant from Army
"Letha Sooter, an assistant professor of biology at West Virginia University's Eberly College of Arts and Sciences and a researcher at WVNano, has been awarded the University's first cooperative agreement with the Department of Defense. She will receive more than $409,000 from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory to work with molecular recognition elements (or MREs), in hopes of creating devices that will detect explosive, chemical and biological warfare. […] [Sooter is] searching for the bio-molecules that will detect chemical and biological danger for soldiers and civilians. 'Molecular recognition elements are such a powerful tool,' Sooter said. 'They're amazing little things. They do a wonderful job of being specific and having a high affinity for their target.' […] The cooperative agreement will give Sooter and her team of student researchers three years worth of funding to accomplish that goal. If they locate the correct bio-molecules, the Army will apply them to the sensing devices they are currently creating and soldiers will be able to use the technology in theater." (Lincoln Journal; 28Jul09)

Defenders reject GAO [Government Accountability Office] criticism of Kansas biodefense lab
"Kansas policymakers linked arms Monday to insist the state could safely host a $650 million biodefense research facility, despite a new report suggesting the project is potentially dangerous. […] For the second time in 18 months, the GAO has concluded Homeland Security does not fully understand all the potential hazards of the Kansas location - a conclusion that politicians from states that lost the project have seized upon to argue for delays in funding the facility. […] All six of the state's congressional representatives issued statements Monday supporting the Kansas location for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility. […] After Kansas won the competition, a consortium in Texas sued to halt the project, claiming the site is at risk for tornado damage. […] The GAO report […] agreed more weather studies are needed before concluding that diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease could be safely contained at the facility in the event of a catastrophe. […] Kansans connected with the project scoffed at the Texans' argument, endorsed in the GAO report, that tornadoes could be a problem. 'There are some studies that they're more likely to have a tornado problem than us,' [said former Kansas governor John Carlin, now chairman of the Kansas Bioscience Authority.] Thornton said the project would be built as a 'vault inside a vault inside a submarine' to protect against the release of germs and diseases. He said he would attend a hearing of a House subcommittee this week where the GAO findings are expected to be discussed." (Kansas City Star; 27Jul09; Dave Helling and David Goldstein) http://www.kansascity.com/637/story/1349759.html

6th leak of chemical weapon agent detected [OR]
"Trace amounts of mustard chemical agent vapor were detected inside a Umatilla Chemical Depot storage igloo today for the sixth time this year. It's the third leak of a mustard container detected this month. […] As the weather warms, the mustard containers thaw and are more likely to leak. […] The leak today was detected during routine weekly monitoring and posed no danger to the public or environment, according to depot officials. The igloos have a passive filtration system that prevents chemical agent vapor from escaping the structures. When a leak is discovered, a powered filtration system also is installed. The depot is currently disposing of the mustard agent after successfully destroying its stockpile of nerve agents." (Tri City Herald; 27Jul09) http://www.tri-cityherald.com/945/story/661956.html

Range fire reported at south end of Umatilla chemical depot [OR]
"Firefighters from the Umatilla Chemical Depot and nearby communities are fighting a range fire along the south end of the depot near the I-84 freeway. The fire was first reported at 1 p.m. today. […] Depot officials said the incident is not close to the area where chemical weapons are stored. Depot officials have notified the off-post emergency operations centers in [surrounding] counties." (U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency; 27Jul09)

Russia destroys first ton of war gas sarin
"The first ton of the warfare gas sarin was destroyed at the chemical weapons destruction facility Maradykovsky in the Kirov region. The destruction of this substance, which is a nerve agent, was launched on July 27, and more than 1,100 kilograms of sarin has already been destroyed so far," chief of the regional department for conventional problems Mikhail Manin told Itar-Tass on Wednesday. […] Sarin was destroyed in 26 warheads at 9 a.m. Moscow time on Wednesday, after that their hulls were decontaminated and exposed to thermal processing. […] Manin also noted that inspectors of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, representatives from the working group of the Federal Agency for Safe Storage and Destruction of Chemical Weapons and the regional ecological monitoring center are monitoring round-the-clock the sarin destruction process. […] The Maradykovsky chemical weapons destruction facility is planning to destroy 231 tons and 119 kilograms of sarin by the year end. Some 4,833 aviation bombs and warheads of chemical missiles contain the foresaid war gas. Maradykovsky is the third Russian complex, which had launched the full-scale destruction of chemical weapons since September 2006. Since 1953 the complex has stockpiled more than 40,000 aviation bombs and warheads of chemical missiles staffed with the mixture of nerve agents. […] The Maradykovsky destruction facility is planning to launch the destruction of one more toxic agent - soman as of 2010. Russia will have destroyed the whole stock of toxic agents under Russia's international liabilities and the federal program for the destruction of chemical weapons in Russia by 2012." (Itar Tass News; 29Jul09) http://www.itar-tass.com/eng/level2.html?NewsID=14188752&PageNum=0

Second basic course held for personnel of national authorities in Africa
"The National Authority of South Africa and the OPCW jointly organized a Basic Course for Personnel of National Authorities in Africa who are involved in the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). The event took place in Centurion, South Africa from 13 to 17 July 2009 and was the second Basic Course organized for the African region. […] Representatives from 18 States Parties participated in the course, which aims to enhance the capacity of National Authorities in Africa to implement the CWC and to foster closer cooperation on a regional and sub-regional basis. The programme covered the history of the development and use of chemical weapons; an overview of the CWC and the OPCW; the rights and obligations of States Parties, establishment and effective functioning of National Authorities; the declarations and verification regimes of the CWC, the transfer provisions relating to the import and export of Scheduled chemicals; international cooperation and assistance activities, including promotion of the peaceful uses of chemistry; and a presentation on the OPCW's Programme to Strengthen Cooperation with Africa. During the roundtable discussions, participants exchanged information on the progress made by their National Authorities in implementing the Convention and the challenges they have encountered." (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons; 27Jul09) http://www.opcw.org/news/news/article/second-basic-course-held-for-personnel-of-national-authorities-in-africa/

Delhi doctors to get trained to fight 'dirty bombs'
"Hundreds of doctors in the national capital will be trained to handle [...] 'dirty bomb attacks during Commonwealth Games'. [...] The programme is initiated jointly by the Delhi government, AIIMS [All India Institute of Medical Sciences], the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). [...] In the beginning 40 doctors from Delhi government hospitals will be trained. [...] Major-General J.K. Bansal, [of NDMA ...] said: 'Dirty bomb is the new threat during major events. These bombs have the capacity to spread radioactive rays. They can impact kidney, eyes, reduce fertility and cause many more health hazards.' Bansal said there will be live demonstration of a possible situation. Doctors will be trained on how to deal with such a situation. 'The immediate medical care is required. The precaution needs to be taken.' After training doctors in Delhi, doctors from Chandigarh too will be trained." (Sindh Today; 29Jul09) http://www.sindhtoday.net/news/1/35539.htm

Military chem-bio defense is uncoordinated with states
"The Department of Defense (DoD) presently lacks the means to assess whether its plans to respond to domestic incidents involving chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or explosives (CBRNE) bridge holes in other federal, state and local capabilities. […] US Northern Command, the Defense Department's organization for defending the US homeland, and the National Guard both have the ability to activate specialized units to respond to CBRNE threats. […] But DoD has not yet made use of the Integrated Planning System established in December 2007 to link planning documents at the federal, state and local levels, GAO [Government Accountability Office] noted. The system's framework has been set up, but CBRNE guidance is so far incomplete. 'DoD has had operational plans in place and revises these plans regularly. However, until the Integrated Planning System and its associated plans are complete, DoD's plans and those of other federal and state entities will not be integrated, and it will remain unclear whether DoD's [response forces] will address potential gaps in capabilities,' the GAO reported. […] While DoD has planned to provide necessary capabilities to respond to multiple CBRNE incidents in disparate locations, it cannot presently determine if service members would respond in a timely fashion, if it has sufficient capacity in all necessary capabilities, and if it can overcome challenges in its strategy to provide its three CBRNE Consequence Management Response Forces with everything they need to respond, GAO said. Any troops DoD deployed would respond in direct assistance to civil authorities, but DoD cannot be certain that it can train and deploy forces in an acceptable timeframe to assist those authorities." (Homeland Security Insight and Analysis; 29Jul09; Mickey McCarter) http://www.hstoday.us/content/view/9564/128/

BPSI [Building Protection Systems Inc.] launches new mobile trailer CBRN detection unit
"Building Protection Systems […] announced today that it has completed testing and is ready to deliver its new mobile trailer CBRN detection system. The Mobile Sentry One solution was developed at the request of various law enforcement agencies for the protection of VIPs at events while in their cities. 'This mobile CBRN detection system solves a real protection problem when talking special security events,' said Greg Eiler, CEO of BPSI. […] 'Law enforcement would not know of an airborne toxic chemical attack or a dirty bomb release until it is too late. The Mobile Sentry One provides reliable, real-time information wherever it is needed.' […] Mounted inside a lightweight 4'w x 6'l x 5'h trailer, the rugged, shock resistant Mobile Sentry One system can be transported anywhere it can roll. The 120v hook-up allows for unlimited detection run time while the onboard battery power supply provides up to four hours of back-up operation. […] Each Mobile Sentry One trailer can be easily networked to other Mobile Sentry One trailers, providing complete perimeter protection from an airborne release or targeted attack. […] The Mobile Sentry One communicates with the security command center providing toxin and location data and has the ability to automatically activate predetermined desirable protocols to mitigate the effects of the dangerous toxins." (Red Orbit; 29Jul09) http://www.redorbit.com/news/technology/1728557/bpsi_launches_new_mobile_trailer_cbrn_detection_unit/

Officials testify on capabilities to defend against mass weapons
"The Defense Department [DoD] boasts the world's strongest ability to respond to chemical, biological and other weapons of mass destruction, a top Pentagon official said today. Speaking to the House Armed Services Committee's subcommittee on terrorism, unconventional threats and capabilities, Paul Stockton, assistant secretary of defense for homeland security, discussed the U.S. capabilities in responding to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high-yield explosives, or CBRNE. '[The DoD's] CBRNE response capabilities are the best funded, best equipped, and best trained in the world,' Stockton said. […] Among National Guard units, the department has developed civil support teams in each state and territory that are prepared to respond in the instance of an attack by a weapon of mass destruction. […] The department also is establishing three federal response units designed to assist civil authorities in the aftermath of a mass attack. […] Appearing alongside Stockton at the hearing was Air Force Gen. Victor E. Renuart Jr., commander of U.S. Northern Command [Northcom] and North American Aerospace Defense Command, who spoke about Northcom's role regarding mass weapons attacks. 'The employment of a large-scale [CBRNE] device in the homeland has the potential to incur significant loss of life, cause mass panic, inflict large-scale physical and economic damage, and present consequence management challenges greater than those resulting from previous disasters,' he said in a prepared statement. 'Accordingly, Northcom must anticipate the full spectrum of CBRNE incidents that could occur domestically.' […] Northcom […] is responsible for an area of operations that includes the United States, Canada and Mexico." (Press Zoom; 29Jul09) http://presszoom.com/story_149230.html

New Defense Threat Reduction agency director named [Kenneth A. Myers III]
"Kenneth A. Myers III has been selected as the new director, Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). He was sworn in July 27, 2009, at the Pentagon. Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, Ashton B. Carter, said, 'The selection of Ken Myers as the director of DTRA is another significant step in transforming how we defend against the threat of weapons of mass destruction. He has the right background with 15 years of hands-on nonproliferation, counter-proliferation and arms control experience at the national level to lead the agency in its mission to protect the United States and its allies from weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and support a safe, secure and reliable deterrent.' Carter added that Myers also brings experience with the Moscow and START treaties; export controls; the U.S. - India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act; and Cooperative Proliferation Detection, Interdiction Assistance, and Conventional Threat Reduction Act. […] DTRA [with an annual budget of more than $2.8 billion] focuses on reducing the threat of weapons of mass destruction through a combination of advanced technology programs and innovative operational methods." (U.S. Department of Defense; 28Jul09)

11 suspicious letters with white powder sent to N.J. [New Jersey] government offices
"The FBI is investigating 11 suspicious letters containing a white powder that were sent to various New Jersey government offices this month. The letters have been received at police departments and government offices throughout northern New Jersey. The first one came July 17. Letters have been received in Totowa, Clifton, Wayne, Ringwood, Fair Lawn and Woodland Park. All the letters are being tested. The FBI says first three letters tested came back negative for biological agents and no injuries have been reported." (Fox News; 27Jul09; Source: AP) http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,534975,00.html?test=latestnews

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