War on Terrorism

Friday, September 25, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News, September 25, 2009

Drill at Northern High [School] prepares for anthrax [bacteria] attack [Carroll Township, NC]
"For months, emergency officials have planned a point of dispensing drill at Northern High School in Carroll Township this Saturday to practice distributing antibiotics in the event of the spread of anthrax [bacteria]-laced powder. [...] More than 50 emergency responders, school staff and community volunteers will troubleshoot and execute various scenarios that can be used in any number of emergency or hazardous responses. They include anything from a power outage to radiation leak to a flu vaccination. The life-like, multi-municipality, all-hazards emergency management training exercise will focus on distributing antibiotics and will not be a mass treatment center or staging area. [...] Volunteers and first responders have to prepare for the orderly distribution of supplies and medications without panic and mass hysteria." (Daily Record/Sunday News; 24Sep09; Mike Hoover)

FY [Fiscal Year] 2010 federal biodefense spending
"Since 2001, the U.S. government has substantially increased funding toward preparing the nation against a bioterrorist attack. […] The Center for Biosecurity of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center [PA] has analyzed government spending on biosecurity. In an article published in the journal Biosecurity and Bioterrorism, author Crystal Franco updates the figures for FY2009-FY2010 and looks at where the money is going. The article analyzes the budget requests for FY2010 for biodefense at the Departments of Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Defense, Agriculture, and State as well as the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Science Foundation. This year, for the first time, an analysis was conducted to determine how much of the biodefense funding serves multiple programmatic goals and benefits, both biodefense and non-biodefense related. [Findings listed in the article]." (Ajax World Magazine; 23Sep09; Source: Press Release Newswire) http://ca.sys-con.com/node/1118710

Sentenel [sic] status FCH [Faith Community Hospital] lab earns DSHS [Department of State Health Services] distinction [Jacksboro, TX]

"Faith Community Hospital in Jacksboro has been designated as a Sentenel [sic] lab under the LRN [Laboratory Response Network] structure for bioterrorism and was issued a commendation by the Texas Department of State Health Services for proficiency and contribution to efforts to ensure a safer Texas. The FCH lab has and continues to participate in emergency preparedness training programs such as these along with the required continual clinical educational requirements expected of staff members. This is done in order to prevent or minimize the risk of compromising public health. During recent threats of H1N1 outbreaks, hospital administrator Don Hopkins and lab director Joseph Medina took part in teleconference briefings with state commissioner David Lakey, MD. 'I informed Dr. Lakey of the challenges we faced in order to meet Jack County's rural needs, with respect to the expedition of confirmatory results, transportation facets, and rapid communication of regional influenza activity,' said Medina. Sentenel [sic] labs represent the thousands of hospital-based labs that are on the front lines. […] In an unannounced or covert terrorist attack, patients provide specimens during routine patient care. Sentenel [sic] labs could be the first facility to spot a suspicious specimen. A sentinel laboratory's responsibility is to refer a suspicious sample to the right reference lab." (Jacksboro Gazette News; 24Sep09) http://www.jacksboronewspapers.com/news/get-news.asp?id=12537&catid=3&cpg=get-news.asp

Colo[rado] loses bid to enforce weapons destruction
"A federal judge [U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch] has rejected a request from Colorado health officials to set an enforceable deadline for destroying chemical weapons stored at an Army facility outside Pueblo. [The judge ruled] that federal law limits the state's authority to set timelines and deadlines for destroying mustard agent stored at the Pueblo Chemical Depot. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment filed the lawsuit. Jim Martin, the agency's executive director, says state officials will consult with the Colorado congressional delegation about enforcing the 2017 deadline set by Congress. The state health department recently filed a second lawsuit to force the Army to increase the frequency and level of monitoring of the stored weapons." (Associated Press; 24Sep09) http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5g4h_PizG-fj67SDM_VVf0WqgB3YQD9ATUJG80

Cheap, sensitive sensors could detect explosives, [toxic substances] in water
"Terrorists could try to mix sarin into a reservoir or water mains. An electronic sensor [chip] that can instantly detect very low concentrations in water would be a desirable technology for staying ahead of potential attacks, said chemical engineering Associate Professor Zhenan Bao, who leads the group that developed the chip [at Stanford University]. […] The Stanford chip offers a rare combination of low-cost materials, low power usage, robust and repeatable performance in water, instant response and physical flexibility. […] 'We have used semiconducting carbon nanotube network transistors to make extremely sensitive sensors that are capable of operating stably under water,' Bao said. 'We showed sensitivity in the range of a few parts per billion for detection of explosive compounds such as TNT.' A nanotube is a rolled-up sheet of carbon atoms that is only one atom thick. Every atom is therefore on the tube's surface. This makes single-walled nanotubes very sensitive to nearby molecules that would drift by in a water sample, says postdoctoral researcher and article co-author Melburne LeMieux. The Stanford sensors […] are built using processes developed in Bao's lab that ensure a high-density of well-aligned nanotubes that are almost purely semiconducting. […] Semiconducting nanotubes […] can detect a wider range of molecular interactions with greater sensitivity than purely conducting nanotubes. The chip itself is made of an inexpensive, flexible plastic substrate, rather than the more expensive, rigid silicon that underlies most computer chips. The researchers also use a thin polymer gate electrical insulator layer, which allows the device to operate on less than 1 volt of electricity. […] In lab tests, LeMieux and [Mark] Roberts [a former graduate student who is now a postdoctoral researcher at Sandia National Laboratories] found that when the chip was exposed to water with just 2 parts per billion of either TNT or dimethyl methylphosphonate (a sarin cousin), the chips instantly reported unmistakable changes in electrical current." (PhysOrg; 24Sep09) http://www.physorg.com/news173035243.html

Nerve gas detection in a fraction of a second
"A new molecule that detects and destroys lethal nerve gases has been developed by researchers in the US [Julius Rebek's Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA]. It is hoped that the research will help develop new early-warning systems against chemical weapon attacks, and possibly give rise to an effective antidote. [...] Despite being outlawed by chemical weapons conventions in the 1990s, their [organophosphorus nerve gases such as sarin, tabun and soban] relatively straightforward chemical structure means they could conceivably be deployed by terrorist organizations. [...The researchers] designed a pincer-like molecule containing a hydroxy oxime group [that] has several advantages over previous chemical sensors - being more sensitive and easier to deploy in the field, while still being extremely reactive and taking only milliseconds to detect the gas. […] Michael Sailor, who has worked on making similar compounds at the Universityof California, San Diego is not convinced that this new method is better than other chemical sensors developed in recent years. 'This is because it is hard to make a direct comparison as different conditions have been used in each case.'" (Chemistry World; 24Sep09) http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/News/2009/September/24090901.asp

Comoros [Islands] designates OPCW national authority
"In compliance with its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), Comoros has informed the OPCW that it has designated a focal point within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to assume the functions of National Authority. A CWC National Authority is crucial in ensuring the effective implementation of the CWC within each State Party's national jurisdiction. […] The National Authority has the responsibility of implementing the provisions of the CWC at the national level. To meet its basic obligations, each State Party must be able to submit all the required declarations, communicate with the OPCW, cooperate with other States Parties, facilitate OPCW inspections, respond to OPCW requests for assistance, protect the confidentiality of classified information, monitor and enforce national compliance, and cooperate in the peaceful uses of chemistry. […] As at 22 September 2009, 182 of the 188 States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention have established or designated their National Authority." (OPCW; 25Sep09) http://www.opcw.org/news/news/article/comoros-designates-opcw-national-authority/

FBI worried over border crossing bribes
"The FBI is increasingly worried that corrupt public officials could put us all at serious risk. A video shows a rogue customs and border protection officer wave a truck full of illegal immigrants right through his lane. The FBI says that for $100,000 officer Michael Gilliland looked the other way. The FBI says it is currently investigating more than 100 similar cases, representing a potentially grave national security threat. […] The FBI fears the worst case scenario is that some illegal immigrants could actually be terrorists. 'That's the danger involved. You don't know what's coming across... maybe it's not a load of narcotics, maybe it's a component for a dirty bomb,' said an agent. […] The FBI worries if the border does become a gateway for terrorists, no one would have a clue they're here." (Channel 8 News, VA; 24Sep09) http://www.news8.net/news/stories/0909/662400.html

Nukepills.com introduces dirty bomb emergency kit for civilian use
"Nukepills.com today announced the addition of the new Dirty Bomb Emergency Kit to its line of radiation emergency preparedness products. This innovative kit was developed to be safely and easily used by civilians, first responders and security personnel in the event of a dirty bomb attack or other radiological event. The Dirty Bomb Emergency Kit is used to instantly detect radiation and safely, quickly and significantly decontaminate people and surfaces of radioactive material most likely found in a dirty bomb using the supplied Quick-Decon resin-based decontamination solutions. The included military-grade RADTriage Personal Radiation Detectors instantly detect radiation exposure in the event of a dirty bomb, nuclear reactor accident, nuclear weapon fallout and other sources of radiation. […A] report issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security [said] the RADTriage was found to demonstrate 'acceptable performance for homeland security mission needs. If routinely carried by emergency responders, it could provide early indication of a significant radiation component after a terrorist event.'" (Red Orbit; 24Sep09) http://www.redorbit.com/news/business/1758852/nukepillscom_introduces_dirty_bomb_emergency_kit_for_civilian_use/

High-tech nuke detectors check Puget Sound small vessels for WMD [WA]
"More than 300 trained maritime law enforcement and first responder personnel from federal, state, local and tribal agencies participated in an operational maritime exercise in Puget Sound this week. Maritime law enforcement and first responders conducted non-intrusive small vessel radiological screenings at three Puget Sound security zones located at Admiralty Inlet, Bellingham Bay and North Skagit Bay. The exercise is part of a pilot demonstration funded by the Department of Homeland Security [DHS] Domestic Nuclear Detection Office to evaluate radiation detection sensors and operational protocols for the small vessel maritime environment. […] Pacific Northwest National Laboratory coordinated activities with the Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection, and many other state, local and tribal agencies for the two-day event. Team members used radiation detection equipment ranging from portable hand-held sensors to boat-mounted systems. […] 'Our goal was to coordinate efforts by DHS and regional partners to prevent illicit radiological or nuclear materials from entering Puget Sound waterways by way of small vessels,' said PNNL Maritime Project Manager Bill Peterson. 'The exercise allowed us to operationally assess these advanced technology systems and protocols.' […] DHS's Domestic Nuclear Detection Office invested $3.5 million in equipment and training for state and local personnel in preventive radiological detection for the Puget Sound pilot." (Zikkir Industry News, D.C.; 24Sep09; Daniel Abraham)

State-of-art fire, rescue boat at ready [Warwick, RI]
"Mayor Scott Avedisian and city firefighters unveiled a new, state-of-the-art fireboat yesterday morning. The Firestorm 30 will be used as a search, rescue and firefighting vehicle. The 30-foot, M-4 boat, manufactured by MetalCraft Marine, is the fourth in a fleet of vessels that are part of the Port of Providence Marine Strike Team, a multi-agency collaborative charged with ensuring the safety and security of the local waterways. The boat was purchased with the $500,000 federal Urban Area Security Initiative grant. […] Safety standards require a minimum of two vessels to respond to local, state or federal agency requests for assistance at marine emergency situations. Those situations include search and rescue; medial crises; evacuation; sinking vessels; fire response; and hazard[ous] materials [response]/CBRNE (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Etiologic)." (Warwick Beacon; 24Sep09; Russell J. Moore) www.warwickonline.com/pages/full_story/push?article-State-of-art+fire-+rescue+boat+at+ready%20&id=3702757-State-of-art+fire-+rescue+boat+at+ready&instance=home_news_2nd_left

IAEA chief [Mohamed ElBaradei] addresses historic UN Security Council meeting
"The role of the IAEA in nuclear nonproliferation and nuclear disarmament was the theme of an address given by IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei at a historic UN Security Council meeting during which a resolution calling on states to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, promote disarmament and reduce the risk of nuclear terrorism was approved. Dr. ElBaradei spoke of the current fragility and many shortcomings of the global non-proliferation regime and of the need to strengthen and empower the IAEA if it is to play a role in nuclear disarmament. 'Our verification mandate is centered on nuclear material. If the Agency is to be expected to pursue possible weaponization activities, it must be empowered with the corresponding legal authority,' he said. Dr. ElBaradei also suggested that the international community consider moving from national to multinational control of the nuclear fuel cycle, as this would have decisive consequences for nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear security. […] Finally, Dr. ElBaradei highlighted the links between nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, calling on nuclear weapons states to demonstrate 'their irreversible commitment to achieving a world free from nuclear weapons.'" (International Atomic Energy Agency; 24 September 2009) http://www.iaea.org/NewsCenter/News/2009/unscmeeting.html

NNSA [National Nuclear Security Administration] announces equivalent of more than 15,000 nuclear weapons of Russian HEU [highly enriched uranium] eliminated
"The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today announced that it has monitored the elimination of more than 375 metric tons (MT) of Russian highly enriched uranium (HEU) – the equivalent of more than 15,000 nuclear weapons – under a landmark nuclear nonproliferation program. The 1993 U.S.-Russian HEU Purchase Agreement […] is now 75 percent complete. 'The continued success of this important bilateral agreement demonstrates the enduring U.S.-Russian commitment to the safe and irreversible elimination of excess fissile materials, as recently reaffirmed by Presidents Obama and Medvedev in Moscow,' said NNSA Administrator Thomas D'Agostino. 'This milestone puts us one step closer to accomplishing the President's goal of securing or eliminating weapons-usable nuclear materials worldwide.' […] The HEU Transparency Program implements extensive access and monitoring rights during 24 Special Monitoring Visits per year to four Russian uranium-processing facilities. U.S. experts measure and observe HEU processing firsthand at these facilities, and this information provides the basis for an overall assessment of Russian HEU conversion and down-blending activities subject to the Agreement. To date, the Program has conducted 270 Special Monitoring Visits to monitor Russian uranium processing, with U.S. experts monitoring the elimination of 30 metric tons of HEU – the equivalent of 1,200 nuclear weapons – each year." (National Nuclear Security Administration; 23Sep09) http://nnsa.energy.gov/news/2592.htm

Canada pushes nuclear technology in Asia [Kazakhstan, India]
"[Canada's] Trade Minister Stockwell Day will sign a treaty with Kazakhstan on Thursday that will clear Canada to export nuclear technology, [...] part of a push by [Canada's] government to drum up business for Canada's nuclear industry in Central Asia and India. Day wrapped up a trip to Ukraine on Wednesday during which he launched free-trade talks with that country and promoted the Canada nuclear-reactor technology developed by Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. [...] Day said the government is also putting the finishing touches on a nuclear co-operation agreement with India. [...] Critics warn that nuclear supplies sold to countries such as Kazakhstan could end up in the wrong hands and they argue that selling nuclear technology to India, which isn't party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, sends the wrong message about Canada's stance on nuclear weapons." (Canwest News Service; 23Sep09; Andrew Mayeda) http://www.canada.com/technology/Canada+pushes+nuclear+technology+Asia/2025433/story.html

KCPD [Kansas City Police Department] gets letter with white powder
"At approximately 2:45 pm this afternoon, a civilian clerk was opening mail on the second floor of Police Headquarters. After opening an envelope with a letter inside, a suspicious white powder substance was also located inside. The second floor of HQ was evacuated, as well as several streets closed off to traffic in the area. KCFD HazMat arrived and tested the substance. The substance was determined to be a non-hazardous material. The FBI will be following up on the incident." (Kansas City Star; 24Sep09; James Hart) http://blogs.kansascity.com/crime_scene/2009/09/kcpd-gets-letter-with-white-powder.html

Anthrax [spore dissemination] hoax suspect [Cally-Jo Richardson] waives right to speedy trial [Highlands, FL]
"The Sebring woman accused of sending two letters containing a suspicious white powder to the Highlands County Sheriff's Office waived her right to a speedy trial at Tuesday's pretrial conference. Cally-Jo Richardson, 31, of 1400 Sunset Drive, is charged with two counts of possession of a hoax weapon of mass destruction and one count of criminal use of personal identification information. Her case was continued for another pretrial conference on Oct. 20 at 8:30 a.m." (Highlands Today; 24Sep09; Brad Dickerson) http://www2.highlandstoday.com/content/2009/sep/24/la-anthrax-hoax-suspect-waives-right-to-speedy-tri/

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