War on Terrorism

Monday, August 31, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News, August 31, 2009

FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, bestselling author Jim Collins to keynote RAPS [Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society] annual conference in Philadelphia [PA]
"Professionals concerned with developing and bringing safe and effective drugs, medical devices, biotechnology and other healthcare products to the worldwide market will convene in Philadelphia next month for the Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society's (RAPS) 2009 Annual Conference & Exhibition. Attendees will come from around the world for what is the largest annual event of its kind exclusively for regulatory professionals in the healthcare product sector. [...] Among the topics to be examined at the conference are regulation of biosimilars; considerations for clinical trials of stem cell products; regulations governing counter-bioterrorism agents; health technology assessment and its relationship to comparative effectiveness research; global clinical trials; international regulatory considerations for drugs, devices, biotechnology and combination products; regulatory challenges in emerging markets; advertising and promotion; postmarket surveillance and more. Attendees also will receive briefings from representatives of FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health
(CDRH) and Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) and Health Canada." (BioResearch Online; 31Aug09) http://www.bioresearchonline.com/article.mvc/FDA-Commissioner-Margaret-Hamburg-0001?VNETCOOKIE=NO

FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] gunmen deputized to help administer vaccines
"Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials are directing police chiefs nationwide to search local gun owner records to identify and train civilian deputies to secure smallpox vaccination sites. According to documents forwarded to civil rights groups by police chiefs engaged in a growing smallpox vaccination resistance movement, the plan calls for armed civilian security guards to maintain the peace in every room [in which] the vaccine will be given. The FEMA directive aim[s] to prevent violence at smallpox vaccination areas. It also effectively removes law enforcement officials who oppose vaccination. Police chiefs are now being pressured to comply, get vaccinated, [and] promote the smallpox vaccine, said one chief who requested anonymity. […] The general public may be required to take the vaccine immediately following the first reported case of smallpox, and after 10 million healthcare workers and emergency responders are vaccinated and positioned to run the mammoth civilian program." (Canada Free Press; 31Aug09)

Fire-Rescue building team to answer pandemic, bio-terror[ism] threats [Palm Beach, CA]
"Palm Beach Fire-Rescue is preparing for a worst-case scenario of a pandemic or bio-terrorism attack. [...] To cope with a large-scale health emergency, the town is preparing to act as a designated site for distribution of free preventive antibiotics and possibly other medications or vaccinations. The pharmaceuticals would be provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and funneled through the Palm Beach County Health Department. Palm Beach is one of about 45 distribution sites throughout the county that would serve its own population. South Palm Beach also is a designated site that would administer aid to its residents, town employees and business people within the community. The smaller, closed sites would all but eliminate the need for a mass, countywide distribution system in an emergency situation, health department spokesman Tim O'Connor said. The goal would be to 'dispense medication to the entire population within a 48-hour period,' he said."
(Palm Beach Daily News; 29Aug09; Margie Kacoha) http://www.palmbeachdailynews.com/news/content/news/2009/08/29/pod0830.html

VA [Department of Veterans' Affairs] won't pay benefits to Marine [Josef Lopez] whose injuries came from vaccine
"It wasn't a bullet or roadside bomb that felled Lance Cpl. Josef Lopez three years ago after nine days in Iraq. It was an injection into his arm before his unit left the states. The then 20-year-old Marine from Springfield, MO, suffered a rare adverse reaction to the smallpox vaccine. While the vaccine isn't mandatory, the military strongly encourages troops to take it. And even though his medical problems wouldn't have occurred if he hadn't been deployed, Lopez doesn't qualify for a special government benefit of as much as $100,000 for troops who suffer traumatic injuries. [...] 'It's for traumatic injury, not disease; not illness; not preventive medicine,' said Stephen Wurtz , deputy assistant director for insurance at the VA.'It has nothing to do with not believing these people deserve some compensation for their losses.' The VA was unable to say how many claims have been rejected because of vaccine-related injuries. Wurtz and others familiar with the program said it probably wasn't a large amount. As of July 1 , the traumatic injury program has granted nearly 6,700 claims, a 63 percent approval rate, and paid $394 million in compensation, Wurtz said. A representative for the Military Vaccine Agency , which oversees the vaccination of troops for smallpox, anthrax and other diseases, couldn't be reached for comment, despite repeated attempts." (Yahoo News; 30Aug09; David Goldstein, McClatchy Newspapers) http://news.yahoo.com/s/mcclatchy/20090830/pl_mcclatchy/3301410

Largest-ever biological attack drill set for January [2010]
"In preparation for a non-conventional attack on Israel, the National Emergency Authority [NEA] will hold the largest-ever exercise to train security forces how to respond to a city-wide biological attack. The drill will begin on January 1 and is being prepared by the NEA, a branch of the Defense Ministry established after the Second Lebanon War to coordinate between all of the civilian and military bodies that provide services during a nationwide emergency. [...] The threat scenario will include a biological attack on a major Israeli city and will include the IDF [Israeli Defense Force] Home Front Command, Magen David Adom, the Israel Police, the IDF Medical Corps, the IDF Spokesman's Office and the Fire and Rescue Service. [...] One possibility that will be considered during the drill will be to close down and quarantine the entire city in the event that the disease spreads. Officials will hold hourly assessments during the drill and discuss the option of immunizing the entire country. [...] The IDF plans to begin returning gas masks to the public starting in November. Since the Defense Ministry began collecting the public's gas masks in 2006, almost 90 percent of the masks have been collected and most of them refurbished." (Jerusalem Post; 30Aug09; Yaakov Katz) http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1251145146679&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull

Pittsburgh Poison Center to watch for attacks during G-20 summit [Pittsburgh, PA]
"Pittsburgh Poison Center will be on high alert during the Group of 20 summit, looking for clusters of unusual symptoms that could be attributed to biological or chemical attacks and even food poisoning, center officials said. In preparation for next month's economic summit of leaders from around the world, workers at the Oakland-based center are receiving training to refresh their knowledge about pathogens and disease-causing agents that can kill or seriously impair people. The poison center is gearing up for a possible surge in calls during the two-day meeting, director Ed Krenzelok said. West Penn Allegheny Health System plans to stage a disaster drill in early September but hasn't set a date, spokeswoman Stephanie Waite said. [...] The city's largest hospital system, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, said it has no plan to extend shifts of medical personnel or reschedule elective surgeries. [...] The surveillance will continue after the G-20 event because some bacterial and viral illnesses do not cause symptoms for a few days after exposure. Another surveillance system, this one at the University of Pittsburgh, is used to monitor visits to 137 hospital emergency rooms throughout the state. The computer-based system - called RODS, for real-time outbreak and disease surveillance system - can pinpoint unusual increases in the number of patients with similar symptoms. It tracks activity in retail stores such as pharmacies for unusual spikes in sales of medications to treat certain symptoms. The RODS system will be used during the G-20 summit but not in any special way, said Dr. Bruce Dixon, director of the Allegheny County Health Department." (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review; 31Aug09; Luis Fabregas)

Avera workers learn how to handle decontamination [Mitchell, SD]
"Members of the Avera Queen of Peace decontamination team, along with representatives from Wessington Springs, Parkston and De Smet hospitals, participated in annual decontamination training Thursday at the Mitchell hospital. PowerPoint presentations, videos and hands-on training kept the 35 team members busy throughout the day. In the event of a chemical spill or terrorism event that causes people to be exposed to hazardous materials, patients would be brought through a decontamination tent that is split into several rooms. In the theoretical situation, patients enter the tent, undress, shower and are given a robe to wear into the hospital, preventing all hazardous material from entering the hospital itself. Thursday, participants were able to go through the tent, both as actual team members and as 'patients.' Protective suits were worn by personnel in the training. [...Avera Women's Clinic LPN Lisa] Johnson said it is important to do hands-on training with the tent to help prepare for a disaster." (Daily Republic; 28Aug09; Laura Wehde) http://www.mitchellrepublic.com/event/article/id/36470/

Lithuanian journalist [Richard Lapaytis says]: Armenia used prohibited chemical weapons against Azerbaijani soldiers
"Richardas Lapaytis is one of the few Baltic correspondents who is aware of the core of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict and truth about the Karabakh war by not just hearsay or stories by other people. In 1992-1993 he repeatedly traveled to Azerbaijan, visited the contact line, was an eyewitness to the bloody events of the war (in Lachin, Nakhchivan, Aghdam, etc.) and took photos of tragic consequences of the Khojaly massacre. This interview was made with the assistance of the Community of Azerbaijanis in Lithuania and Congress of Azerbaijanis in Baltic. [...] [Lapaytis states] This weapon was used in the territory of the Nakhchivan Republic. The use of mustard gas was not a mass phenomenon. However, some Azerbaijani soldiers have died in that years rather strange death. A strange rash and redness were discovered in their bodies. I showed copies of examinations to the Lithuanian Ministry of Health where they officially declared: such a death occurs as a result of mustard gas poisoning. And mustard gas is a chemical weapon the use of which is prohibited by all international conventions." (Milaz Info; 31Aug09)

Soldiers get hazmat training at McAAP [McAlester Army Ammunition Plant, OK]
"Looking like something from a science-fiction movie, PFC. Amanda Lainberger, 395th Ammunition Ordinance Company, Appleton, Wis., works her way across the floor inside her vapor protective suit on her way to stop a simulated leak on an old air tank inside the garage of the McAlester fire station. […] Lainberger and other Army Reserve soldiers participating in the Golden Cargo exercise are learning valuable new skills to further enhance their operational readiness in dealing with a multitude of potential incidents that could threaten human life or the environment. 'This is a forty-hour course that teaches how to identify containers, contain leaks, and select the proper personal protective equipment,' said Shift Capt. Jeff Humphries, McAAP fire department. Participants are presented scenarios in which they must plan by using chemical, biological and radiological manuals and respond accordingly. […] The students were familiarized with the different types of equipment and how to decontaminate large numbers of people. 'We try to get them proficient enough that they can work alone, and train them on how to get information,' Humphries added. The soldiers are trained in the use of various chemical-detection devices, including Drager tubes, which draw in vapors to the Smith's Detection System, an infrared spectrograph that can check solids, liquids and gasses. […] Upon completion of training, soldiers receive a Department of Defense certificate. They are required to be recertified every two years." (McAlester News, OK; 31Aug09) http://www.mcalesternews.com/local/local_story_243105747.html

Shot at nuclear fuel truck troubles watchdog group [Union of Concerned Scientists; Bay City, TX]
"Shotgun damage to a truck carrying uranium fuel rods to a Texas nuclear power plant last year posed little, if any, immediate radiation danger, but it highlights potential problems the industry could face, a nuclear power industry watchdog says. The shotgun damage was discovered on the driver's side of the truck on the morning of Sept. 20, as it delivered eight uranium fuel rods to the South Texas Project nuclear power plant near Bay City, according to a safety report filed at the plant last year. [...] The containers carrying the fuel rods nor other equipment on the truck appeared damaged, according to the report, and it was allowed into the plant. Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials were notified and an investigation of the incident found no fuel transport rules were violated, said David Knox, a spokesman for NRG Energy, which has a stake in the plant. [...] Because of the low radiation levels, the fuel rods also wouldn't be effective in a dirty bomb intended to spread radiation, Lyman said. But a fuel rod that has been in a reactor and undergone fission is highly radioactive and can deliver lethal doses within minutes. That's why trucks carrying spent fuel have much higher security specifications than vehicles that carry new fuel rods, said Scott Burnell, a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission." (Houston Chronicle; 28Aug09; Tom Fowler) http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/business/6592212.html

Finnish PM [Prime Minister] says Nord Stream pipeline is no security threat
"Matti Vanhanen (centre), the Finnish prime minister, told the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE) on Sunday that the undersea gas pipeline planned by German-Russian joint venture Nord Stream did not pose a significant security threat as far as the Nordic country was concerned. He added that energy cooperation between Russia and EU countries bolstered security in the region. Mr Vanhanen hinted that the government would grant Nord Stream a permit to use Finland's exclusive economic zone in the Gulf of Finland in September or October. He was quick to add that the subsequent environmental permit process was independent from politics. [...] The Euro-MP pointed out that Finland had requested details about toxins on the seabed, impact on fishstocks, explosives and chemical weapons.'Whether these concerns have been addressed and how is something that has been left unanswered,' Ms. [Eija-Riitta] Korhola [deputy leader of the Conservatives] was quoted as saying." (Helsinki Times; 31Aug09; Kimmo Mantyla) http://www.helsinkitimes.fi/htimes/domestic-news/politics/7786-finnish-pm-says-nord-stream-pipeline-is-no-security-threat-.html

Smart management results in more than $240 million in recovery act funding for enhanced security at airports across the nation
"Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano today announced more than $240 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding for new in-line baggage handling systems at 10 additional airports across the country. These new projects were made possible by the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) cost assessment and negotiation process, which resulted in reductions in project costs for the airports originally in the pipeline for ARRA funding. TSA's efforts reflect Secretary Napolitano's ongoing commitment to creating a culture of efficiency at DHS through the Department-wide Efficiency Review she launched in March to eliminate waste and redundancies while identifying cost savings opportunities and streamlining operations. 'By managing our Recovery Act funds responsibly, we are able to stretch our resources even further to deploy new security equipment to more airports across the country,' said Secretary Napolitano. 'These state-of-the-art baggage systems will inject critical resources into local communities while making travel safer.' The new equipment incorporates enhanced explosive detection technology to provide on-screen viewing capabilities for Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers conducting baggage screenings and reduces the number of re-scans and physical bag searches. […] In awarding ARRA funds, DHS prioritizes shovel-ready projects that infuse resources into local economies quickly while meeting critical security needs."
(Homeland Security Press Release; 26Aug09) http://www.dhs.gov/ynews/releases/pr_1251299226398.shtm

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