War on Terrorism

Monday, September 21, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News, September 21, 2009

High-containment laboratories: national strategy for oversight is needed
"The recent expansion of high-containment laboratories in the United States began in response to the need to develop medical countermeasures after the anthrax [bacteria] attacks in 2001. [...] Decisions to fund the construction of high-containment labs were made by multiple federal agencies in multiple budget cycles. Federal and state agencies, academia, and the private sector considered their individual requirements, but an assessment of national needs was lacking. Even now, after more than 7 years, GAO was unable to find any projections based on a governmentwide strategic evaluation of future capacity requirements set in light of existing capacity; the numbers, location, and mission of the laboratories needed to effectively counter biothreats; and national public health goals. Such information is needed to ensure that the United States will have facilities in the right place with the right specifications. [...] Oversight plays a critical role in improving biosafety and ensuring that highcontainment laboratories comply with regulations. However, some aspects of the current oversight programs provided by the Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture are dependent upon entities monitoring themselves and reporting incidents to federal regulators. Since 2001, personnel reliability programs have been established to counter insider risks, but their cost, effectiveness, and impact has not been evaluated." (Government Accountability Office; 21Sep09)

Wounding of a U.S. Postal Service carrier in Maple Heights on Thursday brings up concerns for the safety of all USPS carriers and mail delivery workers.
USPS officials are still assessing the Maple Heights [OH] situation before they hold informational sessions with carriers. However, situations like this and others always beget safety discussions with postal employees. 'We usually have a safety talk in the morning and tell [employees] the current news,' said Cindy O'Brien, Mount Vernon Postmaster. 'We handle everything very seriously these days based on the anthrax scare several years ago. We don't take anything for granted these days.' [...] 'We look at situations where people put certain things in mailboxes to try to cause hazardous conditions for the carriers,' [O'Brien] said." (Mount Vernon News; 18Sep09; George Breithaupt) http://www.mountvernonnews.com/local/09/09/18/safety-a-concern-for-usps-carriers

'Eid ul-Fitr message from Taliban Leader Mullah Omar [Mullah Omar accuses the U.S. of using chemical weapons in Afghanistan]
"I assure our brave people and the gallant Mujahideen that the plans of global colonialism for occupation of Afghanistan have faced failure because of your selfless sacrifices. During the past eight years, NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization], under the leadership of the militarists of the Pentagon, have implemented a policy of brutality and atrocity, hoping that they will subjugate the brave people of Afghanistan by dint of military power. They have used their sophisticated and cutting-edge technology, including chemical weapons, in order to achieve that end; employed hundreds of centers of propaganda; and spent billions of dollars to portray the image of their military power in a palatable way and terrorize their counterpart opposition. But all these anti-human activities could not bring them success. With the passage of time, the resistance and the Jihadic movement, as a robust Islamic and nationalist movement, assumed the shape of a popular movement, and is approaching the edge of victory." (Middle East Media Research Institute; 20Sep09)

Leaking mustard munition event concluded [Blue Grass Chemical Depot, KY]
"The leaking Mustard artillery shell first detected in mid August was identified and overpacked by toxic chemical crews of the Blue Grass Chemical Activity. The leaking munition was then moved to a separate leaker igloo. Following the required number of monitoring days with no trace of Mustard agent vapor found in the original igloo, the leaking incident is closed out." (Chemical Materials Agency; 17Sep09)

Former PCI [Pacific Consultants International] chief [Shota Morita] found guilty of tax evasion, walks
"The Tokyo District Court sentenced the former president [Shota Morita] of a major consultancy [Pacific Consultants International] to a year in prison, suspended for two years, for evading corporate taxes but waived a breach of trust charge filed against him over a state-funded project to dispose of chemical weapons that Japan left in China after World War II. [Morita] evaded some [Yen] 80 million in corporate taxes over two years through September 2004 to squeeze out money used in securing orders for official development assistance projects, the ruling said. Prosecutors had sought a sentence of two years and six months, adding the charge of breach of trust, saying he made PCI pay around [Yen] 120 million after forcing a failing company to take part in the project at the request of a holding company president, Tamio Araki, 73, between 2004 and 2005. The court rejected the claim, saying the management decision was reasonable." (Japan Times; 19Sep09; Source: Kyodo News) http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20090919a7.html

Hazardous waste and history mix on D.C. tour
"The manicured lawns and beautiful brick homes that line the streets of Spring Valley look like those in most affluent District neighborhoods. But the area looked much different during World War I, when the Army was using it as a testing ground for chemical weapons. [...] On Sunday, visitors on a tour of the neighborhood heard how, 90 years after scientists ended their experiments, the remnants of toxic munitions remain. 'The purpose of the tour is to encourage more historical research, investigation and cleanup here,' said Kent Slowinski, who led more than a dozen people on the walk. 'We want to raise awareness in both Spring Valley and nationwide.'" (Washington Post; 21Sep09; Yamiche Alcindor) http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/20/AR2009092001961.html

Thermo [Fisher Scientific] tests mobile radiometer in D.C.
"Thermo Fisher Scientific has announced that law enforcement officials in Washington, D.C. successfully field tested its Mobile Advanced Radioisotope Identification System (ARIS). A police official on location noted how effectively the system can interdict security threats such as dirty bombs, even in crowded conditions with fast-moving traffic. [...] The Mobile ARIS demonstrated its effectiveness in enabling homeland security and law enforcement personnel to quickly identify, locate and interdict threat radiation sources. Key features of the system include its simplicity of operation and automated detection capability, adaptability to land-, airborne- and water-based monitoring systems, and instant, usable data reporting." (Laboratory Equipment; 18Sep09)

DOR BioPharma announces $9.4 million NIH [National Institutes of Health] grant award to develop thermostable and rapidly acting vaccines: grant supports advancement of DOR's ricin toxin vaccine RiVax(TM)
"DOR BioPharma, Inc. [...] announced today that it has been awarded an approximate $9.4 million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The grant will fund, over a five-year period, the development of formulation and manufacturing processes for vaccines, including RiVax(TM), that are stable at elevated temperatures. The grant will also fund the development of improved thermostable adjuvants expected to result in rapidly acting vaccines that can be given with fewer injections over shorter intervals. [...] The formulation and process technology funded by the grant will be applied to the further development of RiVax(TM), a subunit vaccine for prevention of ricin toxin lethality and morbidity. The grant will also address the development of manufacturing processes and animal model systems necessary for the preclinical characterization of vaccine formulations." (Thomson Reuters; 21Sep09)

Bringing the Soviet military-industrial complex to life
"In Moscow on July 27, 1989, at the offices of the Central Committee, a group of high-level officials gathered in the office of Lev Zaikov, the Soviet Politburo member who oversaw the country's military-industrial complex. [...] The officials in Zaikov's office were worried. A new treaty was being drafted in Geneva that would eliminate chemical weapons, and, unlike the BWC [Biological Weapons Convention], it had real enforcement mechanisms: mandatory on-site challenge inspections. What's more, Shevardnadze previously had announced Soviet support for such inspections in the spirit of Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev's glasnost. With serious verification measures on the horizon, the officials realized the illicit Biopreparat facilities could be at risk of discovery. [...] The meeting notes offer a rare glimpse at the thinking and tactics of Soviet officials behind closed doors. The discussion suggests the threat of intrusive verification was taken seriously by the same group of men who had violated the weak BWC. The officials feared the prospect of foreign inspectors roaming around and picking out places for mandatory challenge inspections. [...] The officials didn't rush to close down their program after the July 27 meeting, but they were attentive to the prospect of being exposed by a tough verification regime." (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists; 17Sep09; David E. Hoffman) http://www.thebulletin.org/web-edition/features/bringing-the-soviet-military-industrial-complex-to-life

Emergency preparedness meeting in Plano [TX]
"People, Get Ready! is a free emergency preparedness event presented by the city of Plano Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and the Collin County Department of Homeland Security. The workshop will present the hazards that trigger emergency situations including weather, industrial chemicals, biological weapons and agents, nuclear/radiological dangers, hazardous materials, epidemics/pandemics, terrorism and holiday emergencies." (Farmersville Times; 24Sep09)

Suspicious package closes Kona Wal-Mart [HI]
"A suspicious package found in the parking lot of the Kailua-Kona Wal-Mart [Hawaii] forced the evacuation of the store for [an] hour [...] Police say they responded to a call [...] when officers learned that a patron had located a suspicious package on the premises. The Hawaii County fire department says the item was found in a parking lot trash can. [...] there was a message on the box: 'Whoever finds this box, I hope you f------ enjoy it.' [...] The Hawai'i Fire Department and the Hawai'i Police Department determined that the area should be cordoned off until the package could be examined by the U.S. Army's Explosive Ordnance Division. [...The Office of Hazardous Materials Safety] tested for the presence of both radiological and nerve agent compounds or substances. [...] After investigation of the package it was determined to be no threat. [...] the contents of the package were DVD cases." (Big Island Video News, Hawaii; 18Sep09) http://www.bigislandvideonews.com/2009/09september/20090918walmart.htm

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