War on Terrorism

Friday, September 11, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News, September 11, 2009

Swine flu antidote developed 15 years ago: Russian expert [Oleg Chupakhin]
"A Russian expert today claimed that an antidote to counter the swine flu virus was developed in Russia some 15 years back under the secret programme for protection against biological warfare. Oleg Chupakhin of Yekaterinburg-based Institute of Organic Synthesis told [...] that an antidote 'Triazaverin' developed under the secret programme for protection against biological warfare can destroy the A(H1N1) virus at any stage of disease [...]." (Indopia; 11Sep09) http://www.indopia.in/India-usa-uk-news/latest-news/667937/Health/10/11/10

Scientists discover mechanism to make existing antibiotics more effective at lower doses
"A new study published in the September 11, 2009 issue of Science by researchers at the NYU School of Medicine reveals a conceptually novel mechanism that plays an important role in making human pathogens like Staphylococcus aureus and Bacillus anthracis resistant to numerous antibiotics. The study led by Evgeny A. Nudler, PhD, The Julie Wilson Anderson Professor of Biochemistry at NYU Langone Medical Center, provides evidence that Nitric Oxide, or NO, is able to alleviate the oxidative stress in bacteria caused by many antibiotics and also helps to neutralize many antibacterial compounds. Eliminating this NO-mediated bacterial defense renders existing antibiotics more potent at lower, less toxic, doses. [...] The study by Nudler and his colleagues was funded by a 2006 Pioneer Award from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland." (Science Daily; 11Sep09) http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090910142356.htm

K-State bio lab could be the CDC [Center for Disease Control] for animal health [KS]
"For more than 60 years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta has served our nation's human health care needs with advanced research and scientific innovation. The result has been the control or eradication of some of the most deadly human diseases and illnesses, including smallpox, malaria and Legionnaires' disease. [...] Today, there is an urgent need to take the highly successful CDC model for human disease diagnostics and research and apply it to animal disease diagnostics and research that will preserve a safe, healthy food supply and a sustainable, successful agriculture infrastructure. It also will provide for critically important protection against animal diseases and zoonotic diseases, which are those traded between humans and animals. An effort to meet this need with a new facility is already under way. The National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, or NBAF, will have the critical mission of diagnosing and developing vaccines and countermeasures for treating, controlling and eradicating disease threats such as foot-and-mouth disease and African swine fever. Whether introduced into our nation's food supply intentionally or naturally, these dangerous diseases would have a devastating impact on our country if we are not properly prepared. Indeed, reports such as 'World at Risk,' released last year by former Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., and Sen. Jim Talent, R-Mo., have highlighted the serious threat of a terrorist attack on our country using biological weapons." (Drovers; 11Sep09; W. Ron DeHaven, CEO and executive vice president of the American Veterinary Medical Association)

Army seeks super-sniffer to detect explosives, bio-agents
"Coverage of the new technology of metamaterials has tended to focus on the possibility of a real-life invisibility cloak. That kind of application is a long way off, but in the much shorter term the Army is developing new materials to build an ultra-sensitive sensor capable of detecting the faintest trace of a scent: a nose like no other. [...] This particular super-sniffer would be based on Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS). As with other types of spectroscopy, it allows a substance to be analyzed by looking at the spectrum of light coming off it. Normally you need a large amount of the material in order to get a reading, but in SERS the scattering effect is boosted. The right shape of micro-structure can capture photons, trapping them as surface waves known as plasmons. These plasmons will interact with specific molecules and hugely increase the scattering effect, so that a tiny sample is needed. Under the right conditions, this technique is hundreds of millions of times more sensitive than it would be without the surface effect. [...] What is the potential application? In the first instance, AMRDEC [Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center] want novel detectors to detect bacteria and chemical warfare agents. Unlike a dog, a detector can tell you which specific agent it can sense. Other possible applications might include spotting explosives from a distance - warning of the presence of a booby trap, car bomb or suicide vest. The same technology could be used to detecting smuggled drugs or airborne pollutants." (Wired; 10Sep09; David Hambling) http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2009/09/army-seeks-super-sniffer-to-detect-explosives-bio-agents/

Policy changes ordered for ND [North Dakota] EMS [Emergency Medical Services] association

"A North Dakota nonprofit that violated the state's open meetings law and used federal disaster planning money on alcohol and other unallowable items could be barred from government contracts unless it changes its policies, the state Health Department said in a letter to the group Wednesday. [...] The Bismarck-based EMS association received about $810,000 between 2004 and last year to help produce a plan to fight bioterrorism and other mass disasters. The Health Department ordered the association in July to repay more than $124,000 of the money spent on alcohol, lobbying, bonuses and other questionable expenses. The group repaid the money last month, said Tim Wiedrich, chief of the Health Department's emergency preparedness and response section. [...] The Health Department's letter says the group's board of directors must acknowledge the errors and 'is committed to making sure that they do not happen again.
At this point the determination whether they will or won't face further sanctions has not been determined,' Wiedrich said. Wiedrich said the EMS association did produce an adequate plan to deal with mass disasters, despite the misspending. He said the group has no government contracts at present." (Jamestown Sun; 10Sep09; James MacPherson, AP) http://www.jamestownsun.com/event/article/id/93639/

Quality of medicines, food ingredients [and bioterrorism] the focus at USP [U.S. Pharmacopeial] 2009 Annual Scientific Meeting [Rockville, MD]
"Important issues surrounding the quality of food and drugs-including global supply chain management, the challenges of creating follow-on biologics […] and nanotechnology for drug delivery-will be the focus of the U.S. Pharmacopeial (USP) Convention's 2009 Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM), […] held in Toronto, Canada, from September 22 to 25. […] This scientific dialogue will engage more than 200 experts from all over the world who will focus on such topics as the special challenges posed by biologic products, bioterrorism and advanced techniques for detecting protein, among many others. A special pre-ASM Tuesday session on Adulteration and Contamination: Technologies of the Future will address the role of emerging technologies in protecting the global supply of food and drugs." (Nanotechnology Now; 09Sep09) http://www.nanotech-now.com/news.cgi?story_id=34620

Xinjiang hospital offers psychological counseling [for persons attacked with syringes]
"The fears did not vanish easily even after medical experts earlier ruled out the possibility that radioactive substances, anthrax [bacteria] or toxic chemicals were used in recent needle attacks. By last Friday, local authorities had confirmed 531 victims of hypodermic syringe stabbings, 171 of whom showed obvious syringe marks. [...] Tens of thousands of angry and panic[ed] residents in Urumqi took to the streets last week, protesting against needle attacks and demanding security guarantees. The Urumqi General Hospital also arranged for three psychological experts and opened four counseling hotlines to help ease victims' fears and panic. In addition, the hospital handed out local newspapers disclosing the sabotages of the needle attackers and brochures on infectious diseases prevention. 'We seek to make the residents know well the vicious intentions of the 'three forces' (of extremism, separatism and terrorism) and learn basic knowledge on infectious diseases to ease panic and anxiety as soon as possible,' said Shen Kaijin, head of the hospital's emergency center." (Xinhua; 11Sep09) http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2009-09/11/content_8684070.htm

New weapon in swine flu fight [air disinfection unit]
"A revolutionary air disinfection (AD) unit that promises to kill 99.999 per cent of bacteria or viruses - including the highly contagious H1N1 Swine Flu virus - has been introduced into the region [Bahrain] by leading health and safety provider, Reza Hygiene [...] The unit uses technology that was developed by the UK's Ministry of Defence Port[o]n Down research centre to combat biological warfare. [...] it has been launched by Inov8 Science, an international environmental technology company. [...] the AD device is a non-toxic and harmless air disinfection unit that produces hydroxyl radicals that are nature's method of killing airborne infections, from organisms such as bacteria, viruses and fungi, within the confines of a hospital ward, office, home or school. 'In standard hygiene we disinfect our hands and contact surfaces. Finally we can disinfect the air, which is really the need of the day given the presence of the highly contagious H1N1 Swine Flu virus,' said Mr Palmer, 52, who has 27 years of experience in the field of innovations and hygiene in the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council]. [...] The AD unit was introduced 18 months ago in some hospitals in the UK where reduced levels of bacterial counts have been observed. [...] The AD unit employs the concept of Open Air Factor which works on the principle that open air disinfects naturally. While researching the Open Air Factor scientists discovered that the ozone layer combines with the natural extract from plants called olefins and produces hydroxyl radicals that kill pathogens in the air." (Gulf Weekly; 09Sep09)

Swiss and US train aid groups against bio-terror[ism] attacks
"The Swiss and US governments are helping train humanitarian aid groups [to] counter the threat of a biological terrorist attack […]. The two governments hosted a two-day training for international security forces and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on Monday and Tuesday […] Participants included the Red Cross and United Nations agencies like the World Food Programme and the World Health Organization. The International Bioterrorism Response Coordination Exercise (Black ICE II) took place in Montreux, Switzerland - repeating a similar exercise in 2006. 'Black ICE II challenged participants with a fictional attack scenario involving pneumonic plague [bacteria], ' the Swiss foreign department said. […] participants […] included the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Counter-Terrorism Committee of the Organization of the American States
(OAS) and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) […]." (Top News, India; 09Sep09)

Bechtel begins hiring work force [for Pueblo Chemical Depot, CO]
"With buildings nearing completion, Pueblo's project to destroy its longtime stockpile of chemical weapons is moving quickly into a new phase. 'Systemization and Operations' is what officials with prime contractor Bechtel and other firms there call the project, but what that means is that the people who actually will do the hands-on job of dismantling the weapons and neutralizing the 2,611 tons of mustard agent they contain now are coming to work. The actual neutralization process still is five years off but before that, Bechtel and its subcontractors are developing procedures, setting up training programs and installing and testing equipment. [...] Still, dismantling the weapons and plant maintenance are jobs that have been done at other locations and Pueblo will have the benefit of recruiting experienced workers from plants where weapons destruction already has ended or is nearly finished. [...] Paul Henry, overall manager for Bechtel, said that as hiring increases, the field of trained Puebloans will be used up and increased local hiring efforts will have to fill the spaces." (Pueblo Chieftain; 10Sep09; John Norton) http://www.chieftain.com/articles/2009/09/10/news/local/doc4aa88caec8929075252860.txt

Chemical depot working with state health department [Pueblo, CO]
"Chemical Depot leaders are ready for a few suggestions from state hazardous materials experts. Disagreements over how much to monitor the mustard gas munitions led to a lawsuit filed by Colorado Health Department leaders. Since then the two sides have met three times to discuss bolstering safety measures. The Colorado Department of Health & Environment [CDH&E] wants the Army to comply with its hazardous materials regulations. [...] Warren Smith with the CDH&E says the lawsuit is intended to compel the Army to do more stringent testing of air surrounding the mustard gas. Smith says when the materials deteriorate they 'burb up' hydrogen. Because of that the state would like to see the Army up their checks on air quality within the storage igloos from quarterly to weekly. They'd also like to see as close to real time and continuous monitoring of the igloos when workers are present. Another stipulation from the state, lower the standard for determining how much chemical waste in the air [is] considered a hazard." (KRDO, Channel 13; 10Sep09; Joe Dominguez)

Vietnam, US launch health panel on Agent Orange
"Vietnamese and U.S. scientists wrapped up their annual meetings on Agent Orange on Thursday, launching a task force to examine health issues in areas where the defoliant was used during the Vietnam War. The panel will begin by focusing on programs to aid the disabled in Danang, a city on the central coast where troops used to mix, store and load Agent Orange onto planes at a former U.S. base, now the site of the Danang airport. [...] Vietnam says 1 million to 4 million of its citizens may have suffered serious health consequences after being exposed to dioxin, a highly toxic element in Agent Orange. The U.S. says the actual number is substantially lower and more scientific study is needed to determine possible links between Agent Orange and health problems suffered by the Vietnamese. After years of disagreement, the two sides began cooperating more closely in 2006 to address problems linked to the herbicide. [...] Their efforts received a jolt of momentum in November of that year when then President George W. Bush and Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet signed an agreement committing the former foes to work together on addressing dioxin contamination in Vietnam. Since then the U.S. Congress has set aside $6 million to address the legacy of Agent Orange, perhaps the most contentious issue remaining from the Vietnam War." (Stars & Stripes; 10Sep09; Source: AP)

Gov't agency waives rules for shippers [of hazardous materials]
"The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration - which regulates more than 1 million daily shipments of potentially dangerous cargo by land, sea and air - has routinely granted or renewed waivers of rules without attempting to find out whether shippers had been involved in accidents or were cited for violations, according to investigations by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Transportation Department's inspector general. The agency's 'culture appears plagued by a belief that it should make things as easy as possible for the industry that it should be regulating,' Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn., the committee's chairman, said at a hearing. [...] The agency regulates the transport of explosives, toxic chemicals, and fireworks, among others hazardous materials. Officials have granted about 1,250 active waivers known as special permits and another 118,000 written permissions known as approvals, which are required for actions involving hazardous materials that regulations otherwise prohibit, Scovel said." (Stars & Stripes; 10Sep09; Joan Lowy, AP)

Va. [Virginia] improves emergency communication in years after 9/11
"Eight years after staring into the smoking inferno of the Pentagon, Virginia State Police Superintendent W. Steven Flaherty still is trying to solve one of the biggest problems faced that day -- rescuers who couldn't talk to one another. [...] While Virginia was first among the states to adopt a strategic plan to address the problem, the state still is struggling to finish a radio system that state police and 20 other state agencies will use to talk to one another and, eventually, local first responders. 'It is a police officer safety issue,' Flaherty said of problems that have plagued the Statewide Agencies Radio System, or STARS, a five-year, $360 million project that is 15 months behind schedule and struggling to remain within its budget. [...] At one point, state police ordered Motorola Corp., which had gotten the primary contract, to stop installing radios in patrol cars. 'Clearly, the troopers were skeptical,' said Col. Wayne M. Huggins, executive director of the Virginia State Police Association and a former state police superintendent, who led a commission created by then-Gov. Jim Gilmore to examine the state's preparedness after the 2001 attacks. A new statewide radio system was a top priority of the commission, though an inflated $600 million price tag made it a tough sell. [...] Improving the interoperability of emergency communications has been a top priority of Virginia since the Sept. 11 attacks. Emergency communications have accounted for about one-third of $268 million in federal homeland-security grants the state has received since 2003. (That total does not include about $330 million spent in Northern Virginia and the rest of the Washington region, or spending on bioterrorism and hospital readiness.)" (Richmond Times-Dispatch; 11Sep09; Micheal Martz) http://www2.timesdispatch.com/rtd/news/state_regional/article/NINE111_20090910-232402/292076/

Build a better test for your emergency response systems
"With fears that swine flu could make a deadly spread to pandemic proportions, health and emergency management officials can't help but wonder, despite their best efforts, how well their response plans will perform in the face of a real large-scale crisis. That uncertainty is one of the harsh truths of the contingency planning business, and it underscores the critical need to regularly test technology-based emergency systems and resources. [...] To promote testing efficiency, ORAU [Oak Ridge Associated Universities] worked with DOE's Emergency Management Issues Special Interest Group (EMI SIG) to develop the Exercise Builder software application. ORAU distributes the standard version of Exercise Builder for free to public agencies that want to use its templates for defining, creating and analyzing tests. The software guides test planners through the process of identifying components of the emergency management system to test and then saves the choices to speed this step when agencies conduct similar tests. ORAU said one of its customers used Exercise Builder to cut testing costs by almost 50 percent during the past two years by reducing the amount of time staff members devoted to developing test plans." (Federal Computer Week; 11Sep09; Alan Joch) http://fcw.com/articles/2009/09/14/feat-testing-emergency-response.aspx

Our lives since 9/11 [discusses changes in CBRN incident response methods]
"Sebring Fire Chief Brad Batz points out that 343 firefighters and 60 NYPD and port authority officers were killed in the 9/11 attacks. [...] 'We've had a lot of training since then,' Batz said. 'It really drove home the point: never let your guard down. And you'd better be prepared.' For instance, two bogus anthrax threats happened in Sebring this year, and firefighters used their hazmat training, Batz said. Their gear has also changed. Firefighters learned that their rubber breathing mouthpieces are affected by certain chemicals, so now they use silicone." (Highlands Today; 11Sep09; Gary Pinnell) http://www2.highlandstoday.com/content/2009/sep/11/la-our-lives-since-911/

Powdery substance at office is flour [Modesto, CA]
"A white powdery substance inside an envelope sent to a Modesto property management company turned out to be flour, according to the Modesto Fire Department. About 11 a.m. Wednesday, a clerk at the Cooper Co. at 3501 Coffee Road opened the envelope addressed to the business, but with no return address, according to Modesto Fire Battalion Chief Hugo Patino. She placed the envelope, which Patino estimated contained about two teaspoons of the powder, in a zippered baggie, then put it in an empty room, shut the door and called authorities. [...] The Stanislaus County Hazardous Materials Response Team performed a test on the substance and determined it was nonhazardous. Police took the substance for any future investigation." (Modesto Bee; 10Sep09) http://www.modbee.com/local/story/848524.html

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