War on Terrorism

Friday, July 31, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News, July 31, 2009

[Black Hawk County] health department cuts budget [IA]
"The Black Hawk County Health Department on Wednesday reduced its upcoming fiscal year budget by $782,345. […] Director Tom O'Rourke said the department's reduction in tax revenue, $122,659, approximately represents the type of revenue shortfall that will impact county residents. Of services the health department provides, he said school outreach programming will be disproportionately affected. The schools, outreach and clinics department budget was reduced by $104,551. 'This is a direct result of the deterioration of the economy,' he said. The enforcement, surveillance and preparedness department budget was reduced $546,917. […] The health department used to act as a distributor of federal public health preparedness funds for a 14-county area, but starting this year the state will take over those duties." (WCF Courier; 30Jul09; Jens Manuel Krogstad)

Review begins of FBI science in anthrax [spore dissemination] case
"A panel of scientific experts on Thursday launched what is expected to be a long, complex examination of the FBI's research in hunting the creator of the deadly anthrax [spore-laced] letters of 2001. The National Academy of Sciences convened a 15-member panel to begin a review that is expected to take a year and a half. Investigators hope the results will validate their findings and put to rest some of the lingering doubts about the case. 'We at the FBI laboratory are confident in our conclusions,' FBI Assistant Director Chris Hassell told the panel. 'This is what we did, please tell us what you think.' […] The scientific panel has been asked to determine if the bureau's novel forensic methods used in the case were correct. In particular, the panel will scrutinize the genetic research that led the FBI to focus on [Bruce] Ivins after years of chasing dead ends. The panel will also examine whether there was any cross-contamination of key samples of anthrax [bacteria]. […] The panel will not reach any conclusions about whether Ivins sent the letters or not, or whether he acted alone. Instead, the group will limit itself to whether the research work done by the FBI was accurate. Last week, the Justice Department tentatively decided to close the case, but reversed course after government lawyers raised a number of lingering legal questions." (Monterey County Herald; 30Jul09; Devlin Barrett, AP)

National Biodefense Science Board: notification of a public teleconference
"As stipulated by the Federal Advisory Committee Act, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is hereby giving notice that the National Biodefense Science Board (NBSB) will hold three teleconference meetings. The meetings are open to the public. Pre-registration is NOT required. The meetings will be held on August 14, 2009, from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. EDT, October 14, 2009, 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. EDT, and on November 13, 2009, 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. EST. […] The Board shall provide expert advice and guidance […] on scientific, technical, and other matters of special interest to the Department of Health and Human Services regarding current and future chemical, biological, nuclear, and radiological agents, whether naturally occurring, accidental, or deliberate. The Board may also provide advice and guidance […] on other matters related to public health emergency preparedness and response." (Technology Marketing Corporation News; 31Jul09)

Reduction in force at Newport [Chemical Depot, IN]
"As part of the Army's progress toward closure of the Newport Chemical Depot (NECD), this week depot officials announced the impending layoff of approximately 180 employees. The workers affected by this reduction […] are employed by Parsons Corporation, the Army contractor that built, operated and now is dismantling the facility where more than 1,200 tons of chemical agent VX was destroyed. […] Newport Chemical Agent Disposal Facility (NECDF) Site Project Manager Anthony W. Reed said, 'Our contractor is providing 60 days advance notice of a mass layoff to allow employees time to look at their options. While NECDF employees are making great progress in our closure operations, these achievements come at the cost of jobs.' Several of the workers being laid off will move to positions at other chemical agent disposal facilities. […] The Army's plan to close the NECD under the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) law also has resulted in the elimination of nearly 150 positions with Mason and Hanger, which has operated the installation since 1986. Approximately 385 remaining contract and government positions at the installation will gradually be phased out until the Newport Chemical Depot Reuse Authority, the local entity appointed to develop land reuse plans for the depot property, assumes management control. The transfer is expected to occur prior to the September 2011 deadline established by BRAC law." (U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency; 30Jul09)

[Congressman] Dale Kildee [D-MI] helps bring $3 million to Mott Community College and Kettering University for research helping the military [Flint, MI]
"Congressman Dale E. Kildee (D-Flint) has secured $3 million in federal funding for research benefiting the military at Mott Community College and Kettering University. About $2 million will go to the Chemical Warfare Agent Fate project at Kettering where students and researchers are studying better ways for the military to assess the dangers of chemical contaminants. The remaining $1 million will go to the Intelligent Orthopedic Fracture Implant program at Mott Community College. […] Both projects are for the U.S. Department of Defense. […] 'This important work, conducted right here in Flint, will help better protect our servicemen and women and enable them to recover from injury more quickly. These advancements will not only support our troops, but they will benefit citizens across the country,' [Kildee said in a prepared statement]."
(Michigan Live; 31Jul09; Beata Mostafavi, Flint Journal) http://blog.mlive.com/higher-education/2009/07/dale_kildee_helps_bring_3_mill.html

Securing Serbia's nuclear legacy, IAEA's largest technical cooperation project aims to lower Vinca's radioactive risks
"In the suburbs of Belgrade, Serbia […] a pile of decades-old radioactive waste in deplorable condition has sat for decades, posing a threat to the health and safety of people and the environment. More than a thousand sealed radioactive sources remain inside […] the Vinca Institute of Nuclear Sciences. […] There has been much speculation as to the original intentions for the facility under Yugoslavia's then-leader Josip Broz Tito, and some research seems to indicate that a modicum of weapons research may have been conducted at Vinca. […] As part of the IAEA and global community's push to support reduced enrichment for research and test reactors, along with concerted efforts to return highly enriched uranium (HEU) fuel to the country of origin, an extraordinary level of international cooperation has coalesced to clean up Vinca. […] The foremost priority has been to deal with two-and-a-half tons of Russian-origin irradiated, spent nuclear fuel elements, which were initially used in the [Vinca's] reactor. […] The push is now on to repackage and repatriates the spent fuel for return to Russia. […] IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei visited the facility in early July 2009, to assess the progress at Vinca. 'The unused nuclear waste is in poor condition and needs to be moved as soon as possible. The situation is under control for now, but it could be very dangerous from a safety and security point of view,' he commented. […] Over 50 experts and technicians have been assigned for the task ahead. A target date of the end of 2010 has been set for the shipment, and work is set to begin in autumn 2009 to begin the fuel repackaging portion of the project." (International Atomic Energy Agency; 29Jul09) http://www.iaea.org/NewsCenter/News/2009/vinca.html

Homeland security holds terror[ism] drill at local h[igh] s[chool] [FL]
"Homeland Security and several local police agencies conducted a terrorism drill at Palm Beach Central High School in Wellington on Wednesday. Homeland Security simulated […] to rehearse what they'd do if a radioactive bomb were to explode. They simulated everything from dealing with the injured to chemical cleanup. […] 'It was to test our abilities of decontaminating victims in this case,' said Palm Beach County firefighter Bob Kropa. At the high school, the sheriff's office and fire department worked together to set up a perimeter at the high school. In reality, the bomb would have meant road closures and even the closure of the Turnpike. 'We do this type of exercise so if something like this ever happened we would work together like we did today,' said Teri Barbera, of the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office." (WPBF News; 29Jul09) http://www.wpbf.com/news/20220033/detail.html

Uranium smugglers sentenced to time served, set free by Slovakian court
"A Slovakian court yesterday sentenced two uranium smugglers to time already served for selling the radioactive substance to undercover police in 2007, the Czech News Agency reported The men - one of them Hungarian, the other Ukranian - were sentenced to 20 months of prison time after the court determined that the half-kilogram of uranium they dealt would not have been usable in an improvised radiological weapon, or 'dirty bomb.' The men, who were arrested in 2007, were let free." (Global Security Newswire; 31Jul09) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20090731_7798.php

The U.S. security relationship with Russia and its impact on transatlantic security
"President Obama and President Medvedev committed to 'resetting' U.S.-Russia relations and laid out an ambitious, substantive work plan for moving forward in a number of areas where the United States and Russia share national interests [such as] reducing our nuclear arsenals, preventing further proliferation of nuclear weapons, and countering the threat of nuclear terrorism. […] The United States and Russia took important steps to increase nuclear security and prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, beginning with the reduction of our own nuclear arsenals. President Obama and President Medvedev signed a Joint Understanding to guide the work of negotiators on a follow-on agreement to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). […] Both presidents noted current negative proliferation trends and agreed on the need to hold other nations accountable to prevent the emergence of a nuclear arms race in some of the most volatile places in the world. […] We made concrete commitments to deepen security cooperation, including by working together to defeat violent extremists and to counter transnational threats, including those of piracy and narcotics trafficking." (U.S. Department of State; 30Jul09; Philip H. Gordon) http://www.state.gov/p/eur/rls/rm/2009/126769.htm

Northland is home to a FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] warehouse that stands ready to help in a disaster
"A warehouse in Clay County is home to the Federal Emergency Management Agency's newest 'pre-positioned' site, the ninth in the country and the only site in the Midwest. The facility stores emergency equipment that state and local agencies may need when responding to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear incidents or natural disasters. Local leaders and first responders, and representatives from state emergency management agencies on Thursday were to tour the facility during an open house. The equipment, including protective gear, search and rescue tools, and medical supplies, is organized and stored in shipping pods on two tractor-trailers parked in the facility. In all, the site is ready to resupply 100 firefighters, 25 law enforcement officials and 25 emergency medical service workers, said FEMA's Edward McGuire. […] The new facility will serve areas in a 600-mile radius. […] FEMA plans to build two more sites in the U.S., most likely in the southwestern and northern portions of the country, McGuire said." (Kansas City Star; 30Jul09; Emily Van Zandt) http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/story/1356280.html

GCHQ [Government Communications Headquarters] to spearhead olympic defences [UK]
"GCHQ is set to play a vital role in protecting the London Olympic Games from terrorist attacks. The Benhall-based intelligence base will team up with other secret services to feed information to a central Olympic Intelligence Centre. GCHQ […] is responsible for intercepting terrorist communications. It will work alongside MI5, MI6 and regional police forces in the Olympic Intelligence Centre, with its role expected to grow during the run-up to the Games in 2012. The new body will be responsible for putting in place security measures to protect all Olympic venues. Security surrounding the event will probably be the largest policing operation the country has ever experienced, with more officers than the 12,000 involved in the 2005 G8 summit. […] Threats for which security services are preparing include car bombs, planted bombs and suicide bombs. […] The Government has set up an Olympic and Paralympic Security Directorate within the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism, with the mandate to look at all possible threats to the Games. It is hoped the measures could help to minimise the effect of any chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear attacks. Despite the terrorism fears, officials are confident they will be prepared." (This Is Gloucestershire; 23Jul09) http://www.thisisgloucestershire.co.uk/gloucestershireheadlines/GCHQ-spearhead-Olympic-defences/article-1187186-detail/article.html

Obama's meeting with Russia's global arms merchant [Op-Ed]
"One of the issues President Barack Hussein Obama […] avoided during his recent visit to Russia is Prime Minister Vladmir Putin's propensity to act as arms merchant for nations ruled by despots and thugs. […] Russia's cash-strapped defense, biotechnology, chemical, aerospace, and nuclear industries continue to be eager to raise funds via exports and transfers. […] The Russians continue to supply a variety of ballistic missile-related goods and technical know-how to countries such as Iran, India, and China. […] The Russians also remain a key source of dual-use biotechnology equipment, chemicals and related expertise for countries of concern with active chemical and biological weapons programs. Russia's well-known biological and chemical expertise made it an attractive target for countries seeking assistance in areas with CBW (Chemical-Biological Weapons) applications. […] Syria reportedly continues to acquire limited quantities of CW, mainly from Russia. However, Damascus's Soviet-era debt to Moscow and inability to fund large purchases continues to hamper efforts to purchase the large quantity of equipment Syria requires to replace its aging weapons inventory. […] Russia was and is the primary source for China, Iran, Libya, and Sudan, and one of the largest sources for India." (Examiner; 29Jul09; Jim Kouri) http://www.examiner.com/x-2684-Law-Enforcement-Examiner~y2009m7d29-Obamas-meeting-with-Russias-global-arms-merchant

All-clear after mystery 'white powder' scare [Wellingborough, England]
"At shortly before 2.30pm today, a member of the public contacted the police expressing concern about a package containing white powder, which was found in the car park of the Ock'n'Dough public house in Niort Way, Wellingborough. Police officers were called to the scene, together with the fire service and the East Midlands ambulance service, and a cordon was put in place around the scene pending the investigation of this package. No-one who has come into contact with the package experienced any ill effects and no-one was evacuated from surrounding properties. Sup[erintendent] Mark Avil, who is commanding the incident, said: 'We are confident no-one has or will come to any harm as a result of this package being discovered in the car park. But we have to err on the side of caution and provide a standard multi-agency response to potential chemical or biological hazards. The safety of the public, and officers and staff dealing with this incident, is paramount.'" (Northampton Chronicle; 30Jul09)

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