War on Terrorism

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News, August 26, 2009

Protesters tell Montreal to change street name honouring British General [Jeffery Amherst]
"Protesters in Montreal are calling on the city to yank the name of a controversial British general from its street signs. About a dozen demonstrators gathered in front of city hall Monday to demand that politicians change the name of Amherst Street, which honours Jeffery Amherst. […] In a successful military career, Amherst led British forces to victory against the French in Canada in the mid-1700s. But some believe he used smallpox-infected [sic] blankets and handkerchiefs as a form of biological warfare against native Americans." (Canada East; 24Aug09)

W[est] P[ensylvannia] bioterrorism lab fails inspection [Lawrenceville, PA]
"Allegheny County's new high-tech bioterrorism laboratory has failed an inspection that's required for it to open. The lab in Lawrenceville is nearly two years behind schedule and $2 million over budget. It was expected to be open this month. The county hopes to have the problems fixed by the G-20 economic summit next month, but officials don't know what the work will cost. Inspector Larry Milchak says the correct alarms did not sound during several power failure scenarios. He says there were doors that didn't shut properly and improper seals that could allow contaminated air to escape. The laboratory is certified to handle materials like anthrax [bacteria] or smallpox [viruses]. It can examine viruses such as the [causative agent of] H1N1 swine flu." (Philadelphia Inquirer; 26Aug09; Source: AP) http://www.philly.com/philly/wires/ap/news/state/pennsylvania/20090826_ap_wpabioterrorismlabfailsinspection.html

Laredo health dept., school district, install first internet system in nation for early I.D., tracking, decisions on 'swine flu' virus infection [TX]
"The City of Laredo Health Department (CLHD) and the Laredo Independent School District (LISD) are installing a 'first-in-the nation,' internet-based system for early identification of possible novel Influenza H1N1 virus infection of students, teachers and staff. […] The system, known as Argus1 provides […] 'point-of-contact surveillance for other forms of influenza as well as the potential to track other public health infectious diseases and chemical agents that the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security has identified as possible agents in a biological or chemical terrorist attack,' said Robert Burns, Director of Information Technology for Argus One Systems, Inc. […] 'This surveillance system is an important adjunct to track and monitor disease from the onset at the provider level and to quickly report to the CLHD for a rapid response intervention to contain disease,' said Hector Gonzalez, MD, MPH, Director of the city's Health Dept.' […] When a person's symptoms match any of nine categories of public health syndromes […] the exact time and location is reported to both the CLHD and to the central office of the School District, he said.
All reported cases are instantly displayed on a map of the City of Laredo so that potential cases are immediately tracked to help officials decide how to prevent its spread throughout the schools and the community at large." (Press Release Web; 26Aug09) http://www.prweb.com/releases/2009/08/prweb2787514.htm

FDA [food and drug administration] approves military flu testing on portable lab
"Military doctors can use a portable polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing device to diagnose novel H1N1 flu infections in troops overseas, the FDA announced. The emergency authorization was approved 'to better protect our troops,' said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, MD, in a statement. The device, called JBAIDS (Joint Biological Agent Identification and Diagnostic System), is a rugged, suitcase-sized instrument that can run PCR-based molecular diagnostic tests. […] The development program […] was mainly focused on biological warfare and bioterrorism threat detection, but the mission also included the ability to test for naturally occurring infectious pathogens. The H1N1 flu testing on the device will use the PCR primers developed by the CDC for use in public health laboratories. Deployment will begin in September to combat units in the Middle East and Navy ships, according to the U.S. Army's Joint Project Management Office for Chemical [and] Biological Medical Systems." (Med Page Today; 26Aug09; John Gever)

Maryland hospitals to share data on swine flu, other diseases
"Maryland is launching a new surveillance system to monitor the outbreak of H1N1 virus and other diseases, Gov. Martin O'Malley unveiled Monday. Maryland's 46 acute-care hospitals are participating in the surveillance system, called the Electronic Surveillance System for the Early Notification of Community-based Epidemics, or Essence. The system gathers symptom data reported in hospital emergency rooms to track disease outbreaks, public health emergencies and suspicious patterns of illness that could serve as an early warning for chemical and bioterrorism attacks. The data will be shared among the 46 hospitals." (Washington Business Journal; 25Aug09; Julekha Dash) http://triangle.bizjournals.com/triangle/othercities/washington/stories/2009/08/24/daily34.html

Anti-terror[ism] antibodies: European scientists have developed a method to detect potential biological warfare agents in food
"A possible scenario for a bioterrorism attack could involve food contamination with protein toxins, such as ricin and botulinum neurotoxins, says Brigitte Dorner, researcher into microbial toxins, of the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin. However, until now detecting toxins in such complex samples has been difficult. Dorner and colleagues in Germany and Switzerland have devised a highly sensitive system that can detect trace amounts of the toxins in foods such as milk, baby food and yoghurt. […] Dorner and coworkers have used an alternative technique, immobilising the toxins on microbeads to reduce their toxicity, allowing the team to generate antibodies quickly in vivo. […] In Luminex xMAP technology antibodies are covalently coupled to beads embedded with dyes that generate signals in response to different targets - in this case the toxins. Dorner explains: 'We further developed the Luminex xMAP technology to incorporate magnetic beads to allow us to analyse complex matrices.' The magnetic property means that the beads can be easily removed from food samples and can undergo automated washings. This makes toxin detection in foods possible where many other technologies have failed. […] Using the bead array, the researchers simultaneously detected trace amounts of five toxins, including ricin and botulinum neurotoxins, in food at lower concentrations than commercially available systems. Dorner says the technique has very good sensitivity. 'We are able to detect toxins down to a level of picograms per milliliter,' […] she says." (Royal Society of Chemistry; 26Aug09; Victoria Steven) http://www.rsc.org/Publishing/Journals/cb/Volume/2009/10/Antiterror_antibodies.asp

Police nab LeT [Lashkar-i-Tayyiba] militant [Mohammad Aslam] with explosives
"New Delhi police said they captured a suspected Lashkar-e-Toiba militant who was believed to be on his way to carry out attacks on a Hindu celebration. Police said they captured a 27-year-old militant identified as Mohammad Aslam at a railway station in New Delhi. Officials say he was seized with a variety of chemical weapons, detonators and timers sealed in two boxes of candy, Indian newspaper The Hindu reports. Authorities believe he may have been en route to help carry out attacks in the Western Indian state of Maharashtra as Hindus prepared for the Ganesh Chaturthi holiday. […] Police officials said Aslam was carrying an identity card from Kashmir when he was arrested." (United Press International; 26Aug09) http://www.upi.com/Emerging_Threats/2009/08/26/Police-nab-LeT-militant-with-explosives/UPI-71841251307212/

Pentagon must meet chemical weapons disposal deadline, U.S. lawmakers say
"Two U.S. lawmakers from Kentucky yesterday showed no signs of backing off the congressional demand that the nation's chemical-weapon arsenal be eliminated by 2017, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported. […] The installation is expected to be the last site to finish off its arsenal of materials banned by the Chemical Weapons Convention, which sets a 2012 deadline on the United States. 'There are people who say that [2017] can't be met,' Senator Mitch McConnell (R) said following a visit with Representative Ben Chandler (D) to the unfinished Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant. 'But that's the law. That's about eight years from now. Let's get to work. We'll get the money.' The Defense Department will try to finish work at Blue Grass before the deadline arrives, said project site manager Jeff Brubaker. […] The company expects to complete construction in 2016; Schlatter did not indicate when work might be finished if additional funds were allocated. The Pentagon appears likely to receive nearly $550 million in the next budget for preparation of chemical weapons neutralization at Blue Grass and the Pueblo Chemical Depot in Colorado." (Global Security Newswire; 26Aug09) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20090826_9408.php

Regional course for national authorities in Asia on training escorts for inspections
"A 3-day Regional Training Course for National Authorities in Asia on Training Escorts for Inspections was held in Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran from 8-10 August 2009. Over 40 participants from 15 States Parties in the region participated. The training course provided comprehensive information on the technical aspects of conducting Article VI inspections by the OPCW. The topics covered included the history of chemical weapons and international efforts to ban their use, the status of implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), and the role of National Authorities in implementing the CWC and interacting with stakeholders. […] Participants were familiarized with OPCW inspection procedures, specifically the rights and obligations of States Parties in facilitating the smooth conduct of inspections. […] The Regional Training Course was followed by a 3-day national training course in Tehran from 11-13 August
2009 to train escorts for inspections, which attracted more than 50 participants. The national course was designed to enhance national capacity and train participants as potential national escorts during OPCW inspections in the future." (OPCW News; 26Aug09) http://www.opcw.org/news/news/article/regional-course-for-national-authorities-in-asia-on-training-escorts-for-inspections/

Defentect, Washington Hospital Center announce expansion agreement for radiation detection system [D.C.]
"Defentect announced today Washington Hospital Center is deploying Defentect's radiation detection system hospital-wide following a pilot project to test its effectiveness, with an additional nine GT2 radiation sensors and two GT4 Gamma Radiation sensors, capable of isotopic identification. The fixed position unattended sensors are networked to Defentect's proprietary DM3 management, monitoring and messaging software platform, which integrates CBRNE [chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosives] detection technologies with an incident command center and coordinates responses according to an engineered concept of operations. 'This deployment enhances our ability to respond quickly and effectively in the event of a radiological incident. We look forward to assessing and reporting on the benefits of this comprehensive detection system' said Susan K. Eckert, Director, EROne Institute for Innovation and Nursing Readiness, Washington Hospital Center. 'In a security scenario unique to hospitals, Defentect is configured to monitor for ingress of radiologically contaminated patients from accidental exposure or via planned terrorist attack; […] these materials could become components of a dirty bomb,' said Frank O'Connor, president, Defentect. […] 'When threat-level alerts are triggered, Defentect's DM3 sends information to hospital responders' cell phones, pagers, PDAs and to existing access control and surveillance security systems.'" (Press Release Newswire; 25Aug09)

ORNL [Oak Ridge National Laboratory] workers fight nuclear proliferation [Oak Ridge, TN]
"If set off in a place like New York City, a nuclear bomb could 'totally disrupt' the United States' economy and society, an Oak Ridge National Laboratory director said. Local employees are working to try to prevent that from happening, said Larry Satkowiak, ORNL director of global security and nonproliferation programs. He said about 150 Oak Ridge National Laboratory employees are involved in a variety of efforts designed to limit the spread of nuclear weapons. […] On Wednesday, Satkowiak gave a talk on the lab's role in preventing nuclear terrorism during a Friends of ORNL lunch meeting. 'The threat has gotten more difficult,' Satkowiak said. 'We can no longer focus on just countries.' Losing a weapon or nuclear material - perhaps through theft - is the 'scariest thought I can think of,' Satkowiak said. Other scary thoughts include Pakistan's instability, terror[ist] attacks in South Asia, and the possibility that North Korea could sell nuclear technologies, materials or weapons, Satkowiak said. […] During an hour-long discussion, Satkowiak talked about nuclear black markets, a proliferation network created by Abdul Qadeer 'A.Q.' Khan in Pakistan, the removal of uranium-enriching equipment from Libya in 2004, and concerns about North Korea. […] Satkowiak also talked about four major nuclear terrorism threat scenarios: the theft and detonation of intact nuclear weapons; the theft or purchase of fissile material that leads to the fabrication of an improvised nuclear device; attacks against and sabotage of nuclear facilities, and the acquisition of radioactive materials to fabricate and detonate a so-called dirty bomb." (Oak Ridger; 25Aug09; John Huotari) http://www.oakridger.com/news/x772316083/ORNL-workers-fight-nuclear-proliferation

Legislation to implement recommendations of WMD commission forthcoming
"Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) plan to introduce legislation to implement the recommendations of the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Proliferation and Terrorism in September, retired Air Force Col. Randall Larsen, the commission's executive director, told HSToday.us. The WMD Commission has been working closely with Congress to track 49 specific recommendations made in 13 categories in its report, titled World at Risk. […] The commission has developed a matrix to track progress on the recommendations as made by Congress, the White House, and non-governmental organizations, Larsen revealed. The commission's work with Congress on the prevention of biological and nuclear WMD threats has produced an intense focus on stopping a terrorist attack using biological agents, Larsen stressed. 'In the legislation that Senators Lieberman and Collins will be introducing, there is very little mention of the nuclear issue because we have been dealing with it for so long,' he described. 'It's more an issue of execution by the executive branch for what needs to be done. On the other hand, the bio threat requires a lot of legislation and help. It's not as mature. We have not had the time to mature all of the things we are doing to address the bio threat as we have with the nuclear threat.' […] The commissioners have been pressing for more money in the fiscal 2010 budget (or future budgets) for the Biomedical Advance Research and Development Authority (BARDA). […] The Obama administration proposed $300 million in funding for BARDA in fiscal 2010, but the WMD Commission pressed for about
$1.7 billion, Larsen said. […] In September, Graham is working with Texas A&M University to produce a brochure for National Preparedness Month […] to educat[e] US citizens on the right questions to ask in quizzing their local, state and federal officials on WMD preparedness." (Homeland Security Today; 26Aug09; Mickey McCarter) http://www.hstoday.us/content/view/9969/149/

Verizon business [telecommunications] MERIT [Major Emergency Response Incident Team] hazmat team ready for deployment to protect network every day
"A Verizon Business elite team called MERIT - Major Emergency Response Incident Team - is ready to roll, when necessary, to protect thousands of miles of the company's communications network assets during natural disasters or hazardous materials incidents. […] 'Verizon Business has well-maintained network facilities that we protect from all kinds of hazards, but we can't always control the external environment,' said Dick Price, director of business continuance and emergency management, and founder of the MERIT team. 'So we created the communication industry's first hazmat team. We needed technically skilled communications employees who could be trained in hazardous materials, enabling them to enter an area affected by a hazardous materials spill and complete a network repair,' Price said. […] All team members […] have been trained under Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) guidelines, the same certification guidelines used by major fire department hazardous materials teams in the U.S. MERIT team members […] are authorized to operate at the highest operational protection level (Level A), which allows them to enter a contaminated zone, wearing fully encapsulated hazmat suits. The team uses multiple tools to detect more than 30 chemicals, ricin and radiological contamination." (Sun Herald; 26Aug09) http://www.sunherald.com/prnewswire/story/1562281.html

MDA [MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates, Ltd.] to field test advanced information solutions for crime scene assessment [Richmond, BC]
"MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. […] announced today that it has signed a contract for $2 million (CAD) through the Chemical, Biological, Radiological-Nuclear, and Explosives (CBRNE) Research and Technology Initiative (CRTI), a Government of Canada program led by the Defence Research and Development Canada - Centre for Security Science. The contract will see the development of an advanced information solution to assist first responders investigating hazardous crime scenes. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) will act as the lead federal agency in this project in partnership with MDA, Toronto Police Service, Hamilton Police Service, Vancouver Police Department, Defence Research and Development Canada - Ottawa, Canadian Police Research Centre and York University, who is assisting with software development. MDA's solution will provide real-time data, three dimensional mapping and situational awareness of hazardous chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive substances in crime scenes. Deployed on robotic platforms, the solution will reduce the need for first responders to enter a contaminated scene and risk exposure to hazardous or explosive materials." (Trading Markets; 25Aug09)

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