War on Terrorism

Monday, August 03, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News, August 3, 2009

Helter-skelter approach blamed as Allegheny lab remains in limbo [PA]
"Eight years after Allegheny County officials agreed to build a sophisticated biosecurity lab, the tab has jumped from $1.5 million to $6.4 million, and still the lab has not opened. […] 'We did some things on the back-end that probably should have been done on the front-end,' County Manager Jim Flynn said in a recent interview. 'We weren't sophisticated enough to know what we were getting into.' […] 'Every one of these labs is custom designed. They're all going to have their own little issues that have to be worked out,' [said Ed Elinski, senior project manager for Mascaro Construction]. […] Downtown architectural firm IKM Inc. designed the county lab based on specifications provided by the Health Department and Department of Public Works, officials said. […] In all, the county spent more than $800,000 on 75 changes after construction began, records show. […] In an interview, [Dr. Lee Harrison, vice president of the county Board of Health], said he tried to provide guidance after learning the county never hired an experienced lab commissioner to review its plans before construction finally began in October 2006. […] Then-County Executive Jim Roddey proposed moving the laboratory to Downtown in an eight-story building that would be constructed to house the lab, a new forensics laboratory and some county offices. […] 'We clearly need, and have needed for at least the last 20 years, a new laboratory in this county,' [Allegheny Health Director Dr. Bruce] Dixon said." (Pittsburg Tribune-Review; 02Aug09; Allison M. Heinrichs) http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/pittsburgh/s_636369.html

Lawmaker [Representative Rush Holt, D-N.J.] questions conclusions of anthrax [spore] mailing probe
"U.S. Representative Rush Holt (D-N.J.) voiced heavy skepticism Friday about a federal investigation that determined that an Army scientist was the sole perpetrator of the 2001 anthrax [spore] mailings. […] An unprecedented examination of genetic material found in the mailings helped investigators link the attacks to Bruce Ivins. […] 'Our government - and specifically, the FBI - suffers from a credibility gap on this issue,' Representative Holt told a National Academy of Sciences panel that launched a review last week of the 'microbial forensic' analysis that connected Ivins to the mailings. 'I have fundamental concerns about how this was conducted and lingering doubts about the conclusions - and a lot of others do,' Holt told the [Washington] Post. 'I'd like to be able to assure my constituents in New Jersey that there is no longer a murderer at large, and that we're prepared to deal with the next bioterrorist attack.' […] Legal and privacy issues have kept the case open longer than anticipated, the Post reported. […] On its second day of work Friday, the NAS panel heard from three specialists involved in the investigation, including the leader of the probe's genetic analysis, the Frederick, Md., News-Post reported. The scientific review panel is not expected during its 18-month study to consider how the FBI identified Ivins as the sole suspect among dozens of scientists who possessed samples of an anthrax [bacteria] supply genetically linked to spores in the mailings." (Global Security Newswire; 03Aug09)

Weapons disposal funds approved [at Blue Grass Army Depot, KY]
"Funds to accelerate the disposal of the chemical weapons stored at Kentucky's Blue Grass Army Depot were included in the defense spending bill that the U.S. House of Representatives passed on Thursday. […] The measure matched the Pentagon's request for increased funds in 2010 for the destruction projects in Madison County and at Colorado's Pueblo Depot Activity. […] All six of Kentucky's congressmen voted for the bill, which makes defense appropriations through the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2010. Last month, the Kentucky Citizens Advisory Board was told that increased funding over the long haul would cut six years off the completion date, from 2027 to 2021. […] A recent Pentagon report to Congress showed the accelerated completion date in Colorado shortened from 2020 to 2017. Citizens Advisory Board co-chair Craig Williams said, 'With Representative Chandler's diligence and leadership, we are closer to getting the level of support we need here in Kentucky and in Colorado to move forward aggressively.' Chandler said he was 'pleased that the House fulfilled the president's request and was able to give the Blue Grass Army Depot the resources it needs to destroy these weapons in a safe, timely way for our Central Kentucky communities.'" (Lexington Herald Leader; 01Aug09)

Activists blast Agent Orange hypocrisy, renew justice appeal
"[Activists] told Thanh Nien Daily that the spraying of Agent Orange by the US Army was an instance of a dangerous chemical that has caused devastating consequences for millions of Vietnamese citizens and the country's natural environment. […] 'There should be, and for the most part there is, universal acceptance that dioxin is a dangerous chemical. The US military was responsible for the dissemination of Agent Orange and dioxin throughout southern Vietnam,' said Dr. Wayne Dwernychuk, a senior Canadian environmental scientist. 'Human health studies are not necessary to determine the dangers to people in Vietnam... this has been determined, so initiation of significant cleanup at all affected former US military installations where Agent Orange was present should proceed as rapidly as possible,' he said. […] 'While weapons of mass destruction is generally used to refer to large scale weapons like atomic bombs, I believe that chemical weapons which keep on killing and maiming from generation to generation can also be considered weapons of mass destruction,' [American activist Merle Ratner, Co-Coordinator of the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign] said. Both Dwernychuk and Ratner stressed that the right action must be being taken by the right people to redress the environment of Vietnam and the harm caused to its citizens. [… Dwernychuk] felt the US's refusal to pay any compensation to Vietnamese Agent Orange victims while doing so for its own veterans could have to do with avoiding legal liability 'something the US has been avoiding for decades by saying there is no scientific link between AO exposure and health issues in Vietnam.' Ratner pointed fingers specifically at two US major chemical companies that Vietnamese victims have filed lawsuits against, Dow Chemical and Monsanto. […] 'Addressing the 'hot spot' cleanup issue at former US bases is paramount to extract these areas out of the food chain of humans who may be living in the area, or downstream of contaminated regions. Only then will 'normal' bilateral relations exist between the two countries,' [Dwernychuk said]." (Thanh Nien Daily; 03Aug09)

Sickness scare at Bank of America office - strong perfume the culprit [Fort Worth, TX]
"Scores of workers at a Texas call centre became sick yesterday afternoon after they smelled mysterious fumes at the workplace. The strong scented perfume spread panic through the building, triggering fear among workers that they were under chemical attack or the victims of a carbon monoxide leak. […] The incident occurred in a Bank of America complex, located in the 5400 block of North Beach Street, near Loop 820 in north Fort Worth after scores of employees started feeling sick and dizzy. Lt. Kent Worley with the Fort Worth Fire Department said the situation started when two staff members started feeling sick and dizzy after a female co-worker sprayed perfume. […] After some others suffered the same problems, they notified the supervisor about their illnesses after which an announcement was made, urging those who felt sick or dizzy to exit the building. […] According to Lara Kohl, a MedStar ambulance spokeswoman, 34 workers were taken to a hospitals, 12 by ambulance, after they reported dizziness and shortness of breath, while another 110 were treated at the scene. Some people reported the dizziness while some others complained of chest pains and head aches. […] After hazmat crews and the fire department workers inspected the entire area they did not find anything harmful. […] Firefighters declared the area safe at about 3 p.m. and allowed employees to re-enter the building." (Money Times; 30Jul09; Natalie James) http://www.themoneytimes.com/featured/20090730/sickness-scare-bank-america-office-strong-perfume-culprit-id-1078305.html

NYPD training exercise planned in New York harbor
"The New York City Police Department and the Coast Guard will take to the waters south of the Verrazano Bridge tomorrow for a training exercise. As part of the exercise, officers will stop and board vessels to search for radioactive materials. Officials say training is not in response to any specific threat against the city, but rather a way to make sure all agencies are working together to prevent a dirty bomb or nuclear device from entering New York Harbor." (New York 1 News; 03Aug09) http://www.ny1.com/content/top_stories/103399/nypd-training-exercise-planned-in-new-york-harbor/Default.aspx

San Diego State tackles transport of dirty bomb materials [CA]
"On-Net Surveillance Systems (OnSSI) and Defentect are working together in a research demonstration project run by San Diego State University's Homeland Security Program and the SDSU Immersive Visualization Center ('Viz Center') that focuses on the illicit transport of radiological materials used to make dirty bombs. The project is creating a permanent gamma radiation detection perimeter system, incorporating OnSSI's Ocularis IP video command-and-control software, Defentect's GT2 gamma radiation detection sensor technology and DM3 sensor management, monitoring and messaging platform and Axis network cameras that can target detected threats. 'People can visit the Viz Center's courtyard and experience the system firsthand,' said Eric Frost, founder and co-director of the SDSU Immersive Visualization Center and co-director of the Homeland Security Master's Degree Program at SDSU." (Government Video; 03Aug09)

South Africa's opposition accuses govt of arming dictators
"A crisis in South Africa's arms control body has resulted in weapon deals being authorised to repressive regimes such as Iran, Libya, Zimbabwe and North Korea, according to the main opposition party. The Agence France Presse (AFP) yesterday quoted Democratic Alliance shadow minister of defence David Maynier as saying that 'several dodgy deals appeared to have slipped through the cracks' as the arms control body has failed to meet regularly and produce regular reports as required by law. Maynier said his investigation into the activities of the National Conventional Arms Control Committee [NCACC] showed deals had been authorized to sell weapons to some of the most repressive regimes in the world. Many of these countries are under partial or full arms embargoes by the United Nations (UN) and European Union (EU). […] According to Maynier, in the past 13 months, deals have been authorized to send multiple […] long-range precision guided weapons to Libya. 'There is a concern these glide bombs could be converted to deliver a nuclear, chemical or biological weapon,' Maynier told journalists at a press conference. […] Guy Lamb, a researcher at the Institute for Security Studies, said that the NCACC act stated arms should not be sold to countries where they could contribute to internal repression or violate human rights." (The Guardian; 03Aug09) http://www.ngrguardiannews.com/africa/article01/indexn2_html?pdate=030809&ptitle=South%20Africa%27s%20opposition%20accuses%20govt%20of%20arming%20dictators

Midway, they have you surrounded [KY]
"This week, all manner of National Guard troops, police, firefighters and other first responders will be on the campus of Midway College. They'll be going through mock scenarios similar to […] an escalating terrorist event. More than 80 Guard troops and 170 personnel from state and local agencies will participate. The FBI also will be represented. […] The event is designed to train Army and Air Guard troops, civilian emergency managers and others on the procedures necessary to respond to real-life tragedies. […] 'Thursday's scenario is, how would you react if there was somebody who had a pipe bomb, or something bigger than just a sniper?' Hilbrecht said. The exercise will allow officials to respond to a campus shooter who sets off a dirty bomb in a crowded area. That will allow responders to see how to decontaminate large numbers of people. In addition, as part of a week-long statewide exercise, responders will consider how they would react to a worldwide influenza pandemic. […] 'We're planning and practicing for worst-case scenarios,' [Keith Slugantz, emergency management coordinator for Woodford County] said." (Lexington Herald Leader; 03Aug09; Greg Kocher) http://www.kentucky.com/181/story/882874.html?storylink=omni_popular

Mumbai police new blueprint factors in bio, nuclear attack too
"Eight months after the 26/11 terror[ist] attack exposed the disarray in the Mumbai Police despite a clearly laid out Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), Maharashtra has revised the guidelines. The revision […] charts the course of action in the event of a nuclear, chemical or biological attack. The new SOP […] will also include earthquakes and floods, drawing in emergency responders other than the state police force within its ambit. 'Separate SOPs have been made for commissionerates, Mumbai Police, district police, nuclear, chemical and biological warfare and the environment,' Chandra Iyengar, Additional Chief Secretary, Home, told The Indian Express. 'These have been drafted on the basis of recommendations and guidelines sent by the Government of India. Recent experiences have been incorporated into the SOPs and they are extremely elaborate.' […] The SOP contains specific directives on the kind of weapons policemen need to carry and makes bullet-proof vests mandatory in certain situations. The new SOPs, sources said, also specify the role of emergency agencies. […] Generalities have been done away with and the 'competent authority' has been specified, be it the fire department or the health department. It also has a list of suppliers of equipment needed to tackle chemical, biological or radioactive emergencies." (Indian Express; 01Aug09; Swatee

World Cup teams could attract terrorists-police
"Some nations participating in next year's football World Cup could attract a potential attack even though South Africa is not itself a target of international terrorism, police said today. Senior Superintendent Vishnu Naidoo, the national police spokesman for the World Cup, told Reuters that the force was training for all eventualities including crowd trouble and terrorism. […] He said a terrorist attacked remained unlikely but police had carried out simulations lasting up to a week to train for everything from chemical, radiological and biological attacks to bombs and serious accidents. 'There is no intelligence to suggest [that] there is any threat of terrorism during the World Cup. South Africa on its own is not a target for terrorism,' Naidoo said. But he added that some of the teams taking part, which might include both the United States and England, could be seen as potential targets. 'There is the potential that one or two of those countries may import the threat of a terrorism attack into the country,' he added." (Malaysian Insider; 03Aug09)

UAE [United Arab Emirates] adopts further measures for nuclear safety and security
"The Permanent mission of the United Arab Emirates to the International Atomic Energy Agency has communicated today the UAE Government's decision to join a number of additional international conventions related to Nuclear Safety and Security. […] The UAE communicated its decision to join the IAEA Convention on Nuclear Safety, the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management. The UAE further communicated its acceptance of the amendment to the Convention on Physical Protection. […] 'The UAE decision to join these international instruments is consistent with UAE commitment to maintain the highest standards of safety, security and non proliferation in its efforts to evaluate and develop a peaceful nuclear energy program' [Ambassador Hamad Alkaabi, UAE Permanent Representative to the IAEA] said. […] The amendment to the convention accepted by the UAE better addresses issues of combating nuclear terrorism, smuggling and sabotage. It legally binds states to the protection of nuclear facilities and materials, storage, and transport. It also provides for enhanced cooperation between states regarding the rapid location and recovery of stolen or smuggled nuclear materials." (Emirates New Agency; 31Jul09)

White powder scare 'non-hazardous' [Brisbane]
"A white powder scare that forced the evacuation of a north Brisbane police station has been declared non-hazardous. Just after 11am, HazMat crews cleared the Hendra Police Station on Nudgee Road as safe for officers and workers to return. It followed the discovery of two clear bags containing a mystery white powder which had been left on the station's front counter about 9.30am. Police said a woman walked in off the street and dropped the bags on the front desk before leaving, prompting police to call the fire brigade. They evacuated the premises and conducted an assessment of the powder, declaring it did not pose any danger. Police are investigating the matter but are yet to confirm what the powder substance is." (Brisbane Times; 03Aug09; Christine Kellett) http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/white-powder-scare-nonhazardous-20090803-e6go.html

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