War on Terrorism

Friday, October 02, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News, October 2, 2009

Emergent BioSolutions wins $4.9 m[illion] anthrax vaccine [dmPA7909] grant
"Emergent BioSolutions Inc. [...] announced Wednesday that it had been awarded $4.9 million over two years from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to further the development of one of its advanced anthrax vaccine candidates. Money for the grant comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. [...] DmPA7909, was designed to meet the U.S. government's needs for an advanced anthrax vaccine that could confer a rapid immune response following only two doses, and have long-term stability for storage in the Strategic National Stockpile and distribution in an emergency without the need for cold storage conditions." (Washington Business Journal; 30Sep09; Tucker Echols)

Oregon protects communities from deadly chemical weapons with massive Wi-Fi network
"[To] protect more than 80,000 people from an odorless, colorless threat that could kill them within minutes [...] the Oregon communities neighboring the U.S. Army's Umatilla Chemical Depot, one of eight national chemical weapons depots stockpiling mustard gas and other deadly munitions [developed a Wi-Fi-based system that can] override the lights and signs on local highways, activate drop-arm barricades, and update message signs in Spanish and English. [With the help of this system] officials can direct residents out of the local area if there's a chemical leak, and monitor roadways via remote-controlled cameras. The evacuation system also includes a video-conferencing setup that enables officials to converse in real time with officials from other parts of Oregon and with first responders working in the field. [...] Approximately 1,000 square miles of north-central Oregon, specifically Morrow and Umatilla counties, is protected by the Wi-Fi network. That coverage zone includes the Umatilla Chemical Depot, as well as nearby cities Umatilla and Hermiston. [...] Drills and tests of the evacuation system continue, some done twice a day." (Government Technology; 01Oct09; Jim McKay)

New building topped off at chem[ical weapons] depot [Puebla Chemical Depot, CO]
"More than 500 employees [of Pueblo Chemical Depot participated in the opening of the depot's new] 65,000-square-foot structure [that] will be the first stop for the 780,000 artillery shells and mortar rounds due for destruction. Inside the building, fuses and bursters will be removed. Robotic systems will do most of the work inside an explosive containment room surrounded by 2-foot-thick walls that took 1,327 cubic yards of concrete. The weapons, which contain 2,611 tons of mustard agent in total, then will travel along an automated trackway to the Agent Processing Building where the agent will be neutralized by hot water and the shells washed out. [The construction] project has seen 1.1 million work hours without a serious injury. For chemical weapons destruction projects [...] even though operators would be dealing with explosives and deadly poisons later on, construction is the most dangerous phase. [...] The low injury rate made working on the project safer, statistically, than working in a library or financial institution." (Technology Marketing Corps; 01Oct09; Source: Pueblo Chieftain)

Obama deals blow to chemical industry
"In a move that is likely to roil business groups, the Obama administration yesterday announced support for a proposed mandate that the nation's highest-risk chemical plants and water treatment facilities use safer technologies or practices. [...] Rand Beers, a senior Homeland Security Department official, told a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee that the Obama administration supports a mandate for facilities ranked in the top two tiers of risk. Nearly 30 industry groups [...] sent Energy and Commerce Committee leaders a strongly worded letter this week opposing the mandate. The committee is considering a broad chemical security bill that includes the mandate. Beers, who is undersecretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate, said his department should have the authority to require companies to adopt safer technologies and practices when doing so is feasible. He added that the department would take into account the economic impact that doing so would have on companies. [...] The administration supports requiring the highest-risk public drinking water facilities to use inherently safer technologies, said Peter Silva, an assistant EPA administrator. [...] It wasn't immediately clear if legislation mandating the use of safer technologies will be enacted into law anytime soon." (Global Security Newswire; 02Oct09; Chris Strohm, CongressDaily)

OPCW Director-General [Ambassador Rogelio Pfirter] visits Chile [to observe training course for customs authorities]
"The training course, which was organised by the OPCW and hosted by the Government of Chile in the coastal city of ViƱa del Mar, attracted 30 participants from 22 State Parties in Latin America and the Caribbean. [...] In his opening remarks the Director-General welcomed in particular the participation of the Bahamas [...and] expressed appreciation to the Government of Spain for funding the training course. Director-General Pfirter stressed the decisive role that customs authorities play in compiling the data for National Authorities to make their annual declarations on imports and exports of scheduled chemicals to the OPCW, which are vital to enforce non-proliferation. [...] The course provided comprehensive knowledge to participants about the CWC, focusing on the provisions of the transfer regime, in order to improve the ability of States parties to monitor transfers of scheduled chemicals. How customs authorities handle scheduled chemicals has a practical impact on the implementation of the CWC's transfer regime and can play a key role in diminishing, and eventually eliminating, discrepancies between the quantities of scheduled chemicals declared by importing and exporting States parties in respect of these transfers." (OPCW; 01Oct09)

Soldiers exposed to mustard gas on Gower beach [Wales]
"Two soldiers may have been exposed to mustard gas after detonating an unexploded bomb on a North Gower beach. The pair were among a team called to deal with a shell found on the beach in Whiteford Sands, Llanmadoc, in Swansea last Thursday. [...] The shell was disabled by Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) personnel on Thursday but two members of the team later developed skin symptoms similar to those associated with exposure to sulphur mustard - mustard gas. They were treated in hospital and are now recovering at home. Experts from the Ministry of Defence believe a small amount of mustard gas may have been released when the shell was detonated. A section of the beach was cordoned off on Monday and the area has been decontaminated but the incident control team has not yet confirmed that the beach is safe. [...] The two bomb disposal team members became ill three days after they were exposed." (Wales Online; 30Sep09; Madeleine Brindley)

NNSA [National Nuclear Security Administration] megaports initiative expands to four new ports
"The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has completed installation and testing of radiation detection systems at four new ports this month: Ashdod, Israel; Lisbon, Portugal; Kaohsiung, Taiwan; and Port Klang, Malaysia. This new equipment is part of a global effort to implement President Obama's commitment to prevent nuclear terrorism by securing dangerous nuclear material around the world. 'These four new operational Megaports bring us closer to our goal of equipping 100 ports with radiation detection equipment by 2015 while helping us strengthen our capability to prevent nuclear and radiological smuggling throughout the global maritime system,' said NNSA Administrator Thomas P. D'Agostino. [...] The addition of four new Megaports will improve NNSA's ability to monitor cargo in the global maritime shipping system [...] which aims to strengthen the capability of foreign governments to deter, detect, and interdict illicit trafficking in nuclear and other radioactive materials transiting the global maritime shipping system. The Megaports Initiative provides radiation detection equipment, training, and technical support to key international seaports to scan cargo containers for nuclear and other radioactive materials." (NNSA; 01Oct09)

Intellicheck Mobilisa gets $4.5 m[illion] Navy contract [for wireless security buoys]
"Intellicheck Mobilisa Inc. said it's received a $4.48 million contract from the U.S. Navy for wireless security buoys that can detect water quality, oil spills and dirty bombs. [...] The buoys 'provide a high-capacity communications network grid to provide real-time monitoring for marine environments.' [The buoy program] was developed in conjunction with the U.S. Dept. of Defense and the University of Washington Applied Physics Lab. Security buoys are already deployed in the North Puget Sound area. [...] 'Funding will increase the number of buoys deployed, and [...] allow us to develop additional security monitoring tools such as a dirty bomb sensors,' [...] said Jim Rabb, wireless programs manager for the company." (Puget Sound Business Journal; 01Oct09)

Incoming IAEA chief [Yukiya] Amano ready for challenges ahead
"International Atomic Energy Agency chief designate Yukiya Amano is well aware of the challenges that await him, but insists that the nuclear watchdog has a crucial role to play, he said Friday. At a lecture at Kyoto University of Foreign Studies, Amano spoke about the possible nuclear threat Iran and North Korea pose to the international community. He also stressed the importance of nuclear security, telling the 300 students and citizens in the audience, "Japanese people should be more aware of the risk we would face if terrorists obtained nuclear materials." Amano, a diplomat, outlined the challenges the IAEA faces, including preventing nuclear terrorism and proliferation. [...] He emphasized that the IAEA can contribute to nonmilitary global issues in such ways as resolving energy problems and ensuring the peaceful use of nuclear technology. [...] Amano said he decided to run for the post because Japan had been a leading advocate of nuclear disarmament. 'Japan has always pursued nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation and the peaceful use of nuclear energy,' he said." (iStockAnalyst; 02Oct09)

Guard prepared to help state in emergencies [WI]
"ReadyWisconsin [Wisconsin National Guard] and the Wisconsin Homeland Security Council have been encouraging organizations and individuals to prepare for disasters and emergencies as part of the annual nationwide Preparedness Month Campaign. Wisconsin Guard officials want citizens to know [...] all Soldiers and Airmen receive annual briefings about the importance of being prepared and are required to have individual preparedness kits. [...] The 54th Civil Support Team (CST) is the state's full-time response unit for emergencies involving weapons of mass destruction or toxic industrial chemicals. This team supports civil authorities at domestic chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high explosive (CBRNE) incident sites. CST members are also the go-to guys for chemical detection and decontamination. [...] The team includes both Army and Air National Guardsmen, officers and enlisted, and boasts 14 different military specialties such as operations, command and control, logistics, medical and survey operations. The four components of the team's mission are to identify, assess, advise and assist. Upon arrival at the incident site, the team identifies potential CBRNE agents or substances, assesses the current and projected consequences of the material's effects and advises the incident commander of response measures. They will also assist with the commander's request for appropriate support, both military and civilian entities." (WQOW Channel 18; 01Oct09)

UN nations discuss WMD terrorism
"The United Nations this week conducted a three-day meeting to consider international cooperation in efforts to fight WMD terrorism, United Press International reported. Delegates from 35 countries and 19 groups were expected to take part in the conference organized by the U.N. Security Council's 1540 Committee, the entity responsible for overseeing implementation of [...] steps to prevent terrorists from acquiring chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons. The committee hopes to prepare a report on collaborative anti-WMD strategies before the end of 2009, said panel head Jorge Urbina, Costa Rican ambassador to the United Nations. 'The review in general is a process to assess the evolution of risks and threats, to address specific critical issues and to identify possible new approaches for the implementation of the resolution,' Urbina said. [...] The meeting included input from [...] the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. [...] There remains a significant threat of acts of terrorism involving nuclear or other radioactive materials, the IAEA official said. The nonproliferation regime faces a greater threat than at the time Resolution 1540 was approved, according to a representative from the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization. The meeting is scheduled to end today." (Global Security Newswire; 02Oct09)

Powder scare briefly closes school [Miami Gardens, FL]
"A white powder found in a Myrtle Grove Elementary School refrigerator closed the school for about an hour Wednesday morning as a hazardous materials team tested the substance, Edwinna Williams, the school's principal, said. The team determined the powder was nonhazardous, but students - who arrived to school in cars and buses about 7:20 a.m. - were re-routed to Escambia High School as a precaution following the discovery, Williams said. There were no students in the building when the substance was discovered." (Pensacola News Journal; 01Oct09)

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