War on Terrorism

Monday, August 24, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News, August 24, 2009

Nanotherapeutics awarded $30.9 million NIAID [National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases] contract to develop inhaled antiviral for prophylaxis and treatment of smallpox
"Nanotherapeutics, Inc. today announced that it has been awarded a $30.9 Million, 5-year contract from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) […] to develop an inhaled version of the injectable antiviral drug, cidofovir, for non-invasive, post-exposure prophylaxis and treatment of the Category A bioterrorism agent smallpox (Variola major) [sic]. Since transmission of smallpox occurs through inhalation of airborne variola virus, […] non-invasive anti-viral treatment alternatives with proven agents (cidofovir) are needed. […] Inhaled cidofovir could decrease the proportion of the population that would remain susceptible to smallpox due to their inability to be vaccinated, and has been shown in multiple studies to be highly efficacious against various pox models compared to injectable administration, which results in lower pulmonary levels, possible nephrotoxicity, and requires a health-care worker to implement treatment." (Busniess Wire; 24Aug09)

NISS [National Institute of Statistical Sciences] to work on syndromic surveillance project for NSF [National Science Foundation] and DTRA [Defense Threat Reduction Agency]
"The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) have awarded $664,019 to the National Institute of Statistical Sciences (NISS) for collaborative research to develop Bayesian methods for syndromic surveillance. The research focuses on use of conditionally auto regressive (CAR) models to provide quantified estimates of the probability that a disease is present in a particular location. […] According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), syndromic surveillance uses health-related data […] that precede diagnosis and signals a sufficient probability of a case or an outbreak to warrant further public health response. This method is also used by public health officials to detect outbreaks associated with […] bioterrorism. The research that will be conducted will help DTRA to develop technology for controlling and reducing the threat from a biological […] attack."
(Carolina Newswire; 24Aug09)

FCC [Federal Communications Commission] to host webinar on how broadband can enhance homeland security
"On Tuesday, Aug. 25, at 9 a.m. EDT, the Federal Communications Commission [FCC] will host a workshop available to the general public via an online webinar. The goal of the workshop is to examine existing and potential uses of broadband technology by public safety entities and ways in which the technology can enhance homeland security. […] The first of two panels will focus on use of broadband applications by first responders to communicate emergency information and to prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies. […] The second panel will focus on the impact of broadband technology on particular homeland security issues, such as cyber security, pandemics, bioterrorism, and critical infrastructure vulnerabilities." (Occupational Health and Safety; 24Aug09) http://ohsonline.com/articles/2009/08/24/fcc-to-host-broadband-webinar.aspx

Bavarian Nordic [a biotechnology firm] in negotiations with the US authorities for the further development of IMVAMUNE [smallpox vaccine]
"Bavarian Nordic A/S announced today that the US authorities have initiated negotiations for a new contract to develop a freeze-dried version of the IMVAMUNE smallpox vaccine. […] BARDA [Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority] published a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) soliciting proposals for the advanced development of medical countermeasures against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBERN) [sic] threats. […] A freeze-dried formulation of IMVAMUNE offers various new advantages in terms of increased shelf-life and improved stability of the vaccine compared to the current liquid-frozen formulation. Additionally, this will improve the cold-chain shipping logistics and storage. These are all important criteria for governments around the world that prioritize their bio terror[ism] preparedness." (PR Newswire; 24Aug09; Bavarian Nordic) http://news.prnewswire.com/ViewContent.aspx?ACCT=109&STORY=/www/story/08-24-2009/0005081790&EDATE=

Biological weapons convention experts meeting begins
"A five-day experts meeting for the Biological Weapons Convention [BWC] was scheduled to begin today in Geneva, Switzerland, Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported. Participants are expected to consider disease monitoring, contagion countermeasures and other beneficial uses of the life sciences and associated technology. Also on the agenda is discussion of enhanced collaboration among countries. 'These experts' contributions will be crucial to help us review our existing disease surveillance, detection, diagnosis, and containment capacities, and identify the resources that might be used to help others build their capacity,' said Canadian diplomat Marius Grinius, chairman of the meeting. Representatives from the convention's 162 member nations are scheduled to gather in December for the annual states parties' meeting." (Global Security Newswire; 24Aug09) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20090824_9839.php

Weapons too evil to use proving hard to destroy [Richmond, KY]
"'No one accuses the United States of willfully seeking to violate the treaty for purposes of maintaining our chemical weapons arsenal,' said Gary Samore, the White House coordinator for weapons of mass destruction. 'Everyone understands this [delay in destroying America's last stockpile of chemical weapons] is a technical problem.' For now, more than 100,000 poison-filled munitions are stacked like bottles of wine in 44 dirt-covered concrete bunkers beside the construction site. […] 'We wound up having to build many more destruction facilities than originally planned,' said Milton Leitenberg, a weapons expert at the University of Maryland. 'The more time it takes, the more it costs.' […] All the chemicals [at Blue Grass Weapons Depot] are loaded in highly explosive M55 rockets and corroding, fully armed munitions. 'It's like super toxic hazardous waste at this point,' said Jonathan Tucker, a nonproliferation specialist at the Monterey, Calif., Institute of International Studies. 'Getting rid of it is a very nasty process.' Documented problems at the facility have persisted. The Pentagon and the National Academy of Sciences insisted incineration was the easiest, cheapest and safest solution. […] Under pressure from incineration opponents, however, Congress ordered the Pentagon to seek other options. The result: machines in sealed chambers that disassemble the munitions, neutralize the toxic chemicals inside and decontaminate the waste. 'These facilities are expensive because they're essentially operated by robots,' Tucker said." (Herald Tribune; 23Aug09) http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20090823/ARTICLE/908231040/-1/NEWSSITEMAP

Possible mustard agent leak detected at chemical weapons depot in [Pueblo] Colorado
"The Army says a low level of mustard agent has been detected in a building storing chemical weapons at the Pueblo Chemical Depot. The leak was found Monday when a mobile laboratory drew an air sample from inside the building. The Army says the air inside the building is being filtered to clear out the agent. It says technicians in protective gear will go inside later to look for leaks from the shells stored there. There was no immediate report on injuries." (Sun Sentinel; 24Aug09; Source: AP) http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/nationworld/sns-ap-us-chemical-weapons-leak,0,5879208.story

NNSA [National Nuclear Security Administration] coordinates with state, local officials to provide radiological detection training [NM]
"The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today announced that its Emergency Operations team partnered last week with New Mexico law enforcement officials to provide training to improve the detection of radiological material along the state's borders. […] 'Because of our expertise in handling, securing and detecting nuclear material over the last sixty years, NNSA is uniquely equipped to share our expertise with state and local officials,' said NNSA Associate Administrator for Emergency Operations Joseph Krol. 'Working together, we improve our ability to detect radiological materials and make our nation a safer place to live. Cooperation like this is an example of the return our nation gets on its investment in nuclear security.' The three-day training took place at the New Mexico Port of Entry in Anthony, New Mexico. […] NNSA experts and New Mexico officers examined trucks that had tripped radiation detection alarms, surveyed those vehicles with radiation detection equipment and identified the radioactive materials with high resolution spectroscopy equipment." (NNSA; 24Aug09) http://nnsa.energy.gov/news/2494.htm

Officials find uranium ore at port of entry [Anthony, NM]
"A box of uranium ore was discovered Friday at the Anthony port of entry, according to New Mexico State Police. A Fed-Ex truck going through radiological screening set off an alarm and was found to be emanating high levels of gamma rays. The uranium ore was found in an unmarked, 8-inch by 8-inch by 8-inch box mailed by an out-of-state firefighter who travels the country teaching how to detect radiological dirty bombs, according to state police, which did not release the firefighter's name." (Silver City Sun News; 22Aug09) http://www.scsun-news.com/ci_13182065?source=most_emailed

LTTE [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam] tried to buy nuclear weapons
"In a startling disclosure, the detained LTTE chief Kumaran Pathmanathan [KP] has told investigators that the rebels had tried to acquire nuclear weapons and know-how to be used against the Sri Lankan army. A media report has said that Pathmanathan who was recently arrested in a South East Asian country has told interrogators that his organization had tried to acquire nuclear weapons and technology from western countries. 'LTTE had been the first terrorist outfit that tried to obtain nuclear power. Had they been successful in obtaining nuclear power, it would have flowed into the hands of other terror[ist] organizations too,' the Nation newspaper said quoting military analysts. 'KP has revealed that the arms purchased with the money collected were shipped to the LTTE. How he purchased anti-aircraft missiles from arms dealers in the USA has [not] been disclosed,' the newspaper said." (Indian Express; 23Aug09) http://www.indianexpress.com/news/ltte-tried-to-buy-nuclear-weapons-report/505961/

Algonac, Marine City get radiation monitors [MI]
"U.S. Customs and Border Protection has installed radiation portal monitors at the Algonac and Marine City ferry crossings on the St. Clair River. The monitors, like those at the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron, allow officers to screen cars and trucks for nuclear and radiological materials. The monitors are capable of detecting radiation emanating from nuclear devices [or from] isotopes commonly used in medicine and industry. The system passive, does not emit radiation and is harmless to all who come in contact. 'As one could imagine, it can be difficult for officers to pick out who the violator or threat is amidst all of the honest travelers. These monitors are another great addition to our layered approach to doing just that, securing the nation's border while facilitating legitimate trade and travel,' said Port Director David Dusellier." (Times Herald; 21Aug09) http://www.thetimesherald.com/article/20090821/NEWS01/90821010/-1/NEWSFRONT2/Algonac--Marine-City-get-radiation-monitors

FBI weapons of mass destruction directorate recent accomplishments
"The FBI's Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate (WMDD) is reporting a number of recent accomplishments including several arrests, convictions, and indictments in cases involving a variety of chemical, biological, and radiological threats. 'We are unrelenting in our efforts to protect the American people from weapons of mass destruction. Whether it is a threatening letter filled with 'powder' to a investigating a major radiological incident, we remain committed to strengthening the FBI's close working relationships with all of our partners to prevent, investigate, and resolve these incidents,' said Dr. Vahid Majidi, Assistant Director, Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate. […] Recent cases [13 listed in the article] highlight a number of actions to dismantle and disrupt […] weapons of mass destruction-related threats." (FBI; 24Aug09)

Area crews sharpen skills with disaster drill: dozens sanitized during massive training session [Saginaw, MI]
"The Tri-Cities Regional Response Team conducted a massive decontamination training session Tuesday. The training was held at the Saginaw Fire Department training facility on Remington Avenue, near the Saginaw River. The mass decontamination scenario involves washing dozens of people who have been exposed to a biological, chemical or radiation event. The team said they have the capability of cleansing hundreds of people at one time. […] Nearly $100,000 worth of equipment, obtained from the Department of Homeland Security, was used during the training. The Tri-Cities RRT is one of 16 teams in Michigan to respond to a terrorist attack or other hazardous materials incident. All 16 teams have received nearly $1 million in funds to train and carry out these types of missions." (WNEM Channel 5 News; 18Aug09) http://www.wnem.com/news/20445504/detail.html

First indigenous tank Bhishma rolls out
"India's armoured might got a long-awaited boost as the first specimen of indigenously built Russian T-90 tank rolled out on Monday. Called Bhishma in India, the T-90 tank is already in operational service with the army and is currently the country's main battle tank (MBT). The first indigenously produced T-90 MBT rolled out of the Heavy Vehicles Factory, just outside Chennai. […] India plans to operate a huge fleet of 1,600 T-90 tanks. The low-slung armored machine is built for fighting across deserts and plains at night, and built to dodge enemy fire effectively. Nimble on its tracks, the tank is also built to survive in a nuclear, chemical or biological warfare environment." (India Today; 24Aug09) http://indiatoday.intoday.in/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=58258&sectionid=4&secid=&Itemid=1&issueid=120

Man [John Phillip Barker] charged with second anthrax scare [KS]
"An Overland Park man has been charged for a second time with sending a letter he claimed contained anthrax [spores] to a government official. U.S. Attorney Lanny Welch said John Phillip Barker, 47, was charged Friday with sending the letter to an assistant U.S. attorney in Kansas. Barker allegedly mailed on Wednesday an envelope containing a white substance and a piece of paper bearing the misspelled warning, 'You have been exposed to antrax die.' Barker was sentenced to a year and a day in a similar case for sending a letter in June 2008 to the Internal Revenue Service in Austin. Authorities said the letter did not contain anthrax [spores]."
(Wichita Eagle; 23Aug09)

No comments: