War on Terrorism

Friday, December 18, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News, December 18, 2009

NASA [National Aeronautics and Space Administration] technology could have biodefense uses

"Technology developed for NASA could have additional uses in the detection of disease agents that could be used in acts of bioterrorism, a California firm announced last week. Universal Detection Technology announced that it was answering a U.S. Homeland Security Department request for research and development proposals that focus on the detection and containment of biological agents such as anthrax. The UDT technology employs a molecule found only in bacterial spores that can be prodded into producing a luminescent glow when exposed to ultraviolet light, allowing for detection. The technology was first licensed through NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Universal Detection Technology is seeking funding to adapt the method for use as a nonimmunological approach to detecting bacterial agents." (Global Security Newswire; 17Dec09) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20091216_6804.php

NIH [National Institute of Health] awards La Jolla Institute $18.8 million for major infectious disease study [CA]

"Researchers from the La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology will take aim at several of the world's most dangerous infectious diseases […] in a five-year, $18.8 million federally-funded set of projects seeking to make new inroads toward vaccines. […] The Institute received four project awards totaling $18.8 million from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, to fund the study. The study also includes a component on smallpox […] which remains a focus due to bioterrorism concerns. Alessandro Sette, Ph.D., a world-renowned expert on vaccine development and director of the La Jolla Institute's Center for Infectious Disease, will lead the study, which focuses on identifying epitopes - pieces of a virus or microbe that cause the body's immune system to launch an attack."
17Dec09) ttp://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-12/ljif-nal121709.php

New York scores high on report over bio-preparedness

"New York has been named one of eight states to have met nine of 10 preparedness measures in the face of a pandemic, a first step in fighting a potential biological attack. Joining New York were Arkansas, Delaware, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas and Vermont, The report was prepared by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which last year rated New York's preparedness at a seven out of 10. New York's point increase stems from raising fund[s] for public health services, its hospital preparedness, its capacity for distributing antiviral medications, its ability to detect and diagnose food borne disease and its Medical Reserve Corps' readiness. 'As the H1N1 pandemic demonstrates, disease outbreaks and other health emergencies frequently happen with little warning, and when they do, the ability to mount a quick and effective public health response is crucial to reduce illness and save lives,' […] Gov. David Paterson told the Poughkeepsie Journal. The one unsatisfactory area for New York uncovered by the study was in its lack of a law or legal opinion to limit the liability of not-for-profit organizations and corporations that provide volunteer help during emergencies. Thirty-two other states currently have such laws in place. Nearly two-thirds of all states scored a seven or less with Montana scoring the lowest with a three. No states scored a 10." (Bio Prep Watch; 16Dec09; Paul Tinder) http://www.bioprepwatch.com/news/211307-new-york-scores-high-on-report-over-bio-preparedness

CSTE [Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists] National Assessment finds critical public health disease surveillance capacity lacking

"CDC's [Center for Disease Control] Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) released a report showing […] a substantial decrease in core epidemiology capacity […] for bioterrorism and emergency response. […] Many states still lack the 21st century technology capacity needed for state-of-the-art surveillance. Dr. James Hadler, the lead author of this article, concluded that 'The current condition of national epidemiology is a preparedness and public health vulnerability.' […] The deterioration of state epidemiology capacity is a consequence of declines in funding for bioterrorism preparedness and emergency response as well as an effect of the economic downturn on state budgets. […] Epidemiologists are best known for their disease detective work with infectious diseases that are naturally occurring or intentionally released."

(Press Release Newswire; 17Dec09; Source: Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists) http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/cste-national-assessment-finds-critical-public-health-disease-surveillance-capacity-lacking-79536797.html

Regional stockpiles could aid Europe in event of bioattack

"A plan to ensure Europe is prepared for a biologic attack has been laid out by Allen Shofe, senior vice president of public affairs at Emergent BioSoloutions, as part of the Security & Defence Agenda's Raising Biopreparedness Levels in Europe report. Shofe said that the biggest problem in preparing Europe for an attack is the overall lack of a plan that includes detection, diagnostics and preparation as well as preparations for delivery of medical countermeasures. Shofe pointed to the U.S. system of preparation, noting that it was not perfect but had the benefit of 10 years and billions of dollars of planning. He called the U.S. plan a more comprehensive bioterrorism preparedness system. A topic of concern, Shofe said, was […] the only-FDA approved anthrax vaccine in the United States which is hindered in Europe by the complexity of the transatlantic [drug] licensing system. An emergency authorisation system is needed, Shofe said, to avoid lack of availability of just such countermeasures during times of emergency. […] Shofe also pushed a regional stockpiling system within Europe, suggesting that a Baltic stockpile, Nordic stockpile and so on would be of great import and would aid in covering countries that have not expressed a desire to form their own stockpiles." (Bio Prep Watch; 15Dec09; Paul Tinder) http://www.bioprepwatch.com/news/211285-regional-stockpiles-could-aid-europe-in-event-of-bioattack

State appeals demil[itarization] ruling [Pueblo, CO]

"The state health department is going to appeal a federal judge's ruling blocking it from ordering the Defense Department to get rid of Pueblo's chemical weapons stockpile. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has filed a notice that [it] will appeal U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch's ruling that the state did not have the authority to set a deadline. […] Matsch concluded the state cannot interfere with a schedule set by Congress for the destruction of the weapons ruling that the federal law establishing the schedule pre-empts the state's hazardous waste law. The state has argued that it has the authority to enforce EPA regulations in Colorado." (Pueblo Chieftain; 18Dec09; John Norton) http://www.chieftain.com/articles/2009/12/17/news/local/doc4b29c6007cadf461487141.txt

Laurel Co. to investigate [Public Safety Director Brian] Reams [KY]

"On a motion from Magistrate Jeff Book, Laurel Fiscal Court agreed Thursday to pursue further investigation of the activities of former Public Safety Director Brian Reams and do an audit concerning the construction of the emergency operations center. Reams was ousted from his post in March [due to his involvement in] a scheme regarding purchase of decontamination equipment for the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program (CSEPP). The CSEPP is affiliated with the Blue Grass Army Depot in Madison County. The program is intended to supply equipment to Madison and nine surrounding counties should there be an incident at the depot involving chemical weapons. A report issued […] by Crit Luallen, state auditor, called into question the expenditure of a $1.9 million grant by Reams, who was put in charge by the other CSEPP counties of acquiring the necessary decontamination equipment. The auditor's office found problems with the CSEPP purchases. […] Reams was in charge of the construction and took no bids for construction of the project, failed to report information regarding the construction to the fiscal court, and had cost overruns of $220,500. Another finding in the report cited […] the fact that Reams as the Laurel CSEPP director, 'awarded a federal grant to a related business party." (Times Tribune, KY; 18Dec09; Carl Keith Greene) http://www.thetimestribune.com/local/local_story_352100340.html

Mustard rounds at Anniston [Chemical Weapons Depot] might be difficult to destroy [AL]

"Corroding munitions filled with mustard blister agent could take longer than anticipated to incinerate at the Anniston Army Depot in Alabama, though they are not expected to affect the site's ability to meet a April 2012 chemical-weapon destruction deadline. […] Army officials were not surprised when some of the 4.2-inch mortars proved difficult to drain prior to being destroyed. Personnel discovered gunk and goo within some HD mustard rounds during a recent trial run of 24 mustard munitions. Some of the 10 to 100 millimeter munitions bubbled, Army project site manager Tim Garrett said. 'They're harder to process because of their age and condition,' Garrett said. […] Normally, an emptied 4.2-inch round is in the incinerator's furnace for 80 minutes. Mustard rounds that cannot be drained must be kept in the furnace for more than two and a half hours, said Army spokesman Michael Abrams. 'Those 24 (mortars) are not indicative of several thousand, but we're probably leaning toward not draining the HD-filled mortars,' Garrett said. […] Mustard agent is the last chemical warfare material to be destroyed at the site." (Global Security Newswire; 15Dec09) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20091214_5615.php

Trace [of] mustard detected at [Umatilla Chemical] depot [OR]

"Depot chemical operations monitoring workers detected trace amounts of HD mustard chemical agent vapor today inside a depot storage structure or igloo that houses bulk containers. The traces of mustard chemical agent vapor were detected during routine weekly monitoring. The vapor is likely due to a leaking bulk container. There was no danger to the public or environment. […] The leaking container will be identified, inspected, repaired as necessary, and decontaminated." (Hermiston Herald; 15Dec09; Karen Hutchinson-Talaski)

Russia meets obligations for chemical weapons decommissioning

"Russia remains on schedule in fulfilling its commitments under the chemical weapons convention, and has met the end-of-year deadline for reducing its stockpiles by 45% from the 1990s level, a government official said. 'In line with Russia's federal program for destroying chemical weapons, in spite of all the difficulties in implementing this program, Russia will have fulfilled its obligations under the third stage of the Chemical Weapons Convention as of December 31, 2009,' Deputy Russian economics minister Oleg Savelyev said. In November the Russian Foreign Ministry reported that Russia had reached this year's target of 45% ahead of schedule. The ministry said Russia is committed to destroying its entire declared arsenal within the timeframe established by the Convention. Russia signed the Chemical Weapons Convention banning the development, production, stockpiling, transfer, and use of chemical arms in 1993, and ratified it in 1997. The country aims to destroy its entire arsenal by 2012. Russia destroyed 1% of its chemical weapon stockpiles in 2003 and had destroyed 20% as of 2007. The country has allocated $7.18 billion from the federal budget for the implementation of the program, and has so far built five chemical weapon destruction plants - in Gorny (Saratov Region), Kambarka (Republic of Udmurtia), Nizhny Novgorod, the Maradykovo complex (Kirov Region), and Siberia's Kurgan Region. Another two are under construction. Western nations pledged at the 2002 Kananaskis G8 summit to help Russia financially and technologically to destroy or convert its chemical weapons and production facilities as part of the Global Partnership against the Proliferation of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction. The United States has contributed over $1 billion for the construction of the Shchuchye facility in the south Urals." (Russian News and Information Agency, RIA Novosti; 17Dec09) http://en.rian.ru/russia/20091217/157275008.html

Libya receives chemical disarmament deadline extension

"Libya has received another extension of the deadline to eliminate its stockpile of chemical warfare materials, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons announced Friday. Tripoli is believed to hold about 25 metric tons of a sulfur-mustard mixture stored in bulk containers. Libya [was] originally required […] to eliminate [its] chemical arsenal by April 2007. […] The new final deadline is May 15, 2011. […] Construction of Libya's chemical-material destruction plant was not believed to have started." (Global Security Newswire; 14Dec09) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20091214_2755.php

Call for more realistic chemical attack drills

"More realistic exercises should be conducted to improve emergency responses to any chemical and biological attacks on civilians, the Royal Society warns today. Training operations have failed to test the preparedness of the NHS [National Health Service] and the Government Decontamination Service (GDS) has conducted only desktop rehearsals, according to a study by the UK's leading independent scientific academy. […] The Society acknowledges that progress has been made in planning for terror[ist] attacks and major contamination incidents. But training exercises were found to be inadequate. 'There is a need for more scenario-based exercises to underpin all risks generic response. […] One major issue is that current exercises stop at the door of the accident and emergency departments and therefore do not test the entire medical response.' [… A] report, Making the UK Safer: Detecting and Decontaminating Chemical and Biological Agents [issued by the Royal Society…] welcomes the creation of the Department of Health's medical intelligence unit and a newly established medical intelligence staff with MI5's joint terrorism analysis centre. But the report calls for more doctors to be educated in the treatment of victims of chemical and biological incidents. […] The study also cautions that the public has not been informed sufficiently about potential dangers, while responsibility for military and government co-ordination is dispersed across too many agencies." (The Guardian; 15Dec09; Owen Bowcott) http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/dec/15/more-realistic-chemical-attack-exercises

Mustard gas Gower beach declared safe

"Access was restricted to Whiteford Sands, Gower, after two Army bomb disposal experts were treated for exposure to the toxic chemical. They had been called to remove a device found there in September. The National Public Health Service for Wales said decontamination of the sand dunes had concluded and the area posed no risk to the public. It said there had been no reports of any member of the public developing symptoms. […] Huw Brunt, consultant in environmental health protection for the service, said: 'We are satisfied that, following extensive sampling, the risk of exposure to sulphur mustard in the affected area is now extremely low and there is no reason to restrict any recreational activities. Any member of the public who finds anything that they believe to be a military ordnance device should not touch it and should call the police immediately.'" (British Broadcasting Corporation; 16Dec09) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/south_west/8415990.stm

Defentect radiation threat detection [equipment] to be deployed at major northeastern hospital chain

"Defentect's DM3(TM) and Gammatect(TM) radiation detection solution is to be installed in a major medical facility in the Northeastern US. This is the first installation for this hospital family with eight locations. Jim Ackerly, CEO of Defentect's parent company, Splinternet Holdings', stated, […] 'Our solution is configured to monitor for the arrival of radiologically contaminated patients, whether from accidental exposure or planned terrorist attack. […] We detect radiological materials that are intended for use in patient therapies if they are removed improperly. This has major implications for first responders, patients, personnel and the general public.' […] When threat-level alerts are triggered, Defentect's DM3(TM) sends information to hospital responders' cell phones, pagers, PDAs and to existing access control and surveillance security systems." (Press Release Newswire; 15Dec09) http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/defentect-radiation-threat-detection-to-be-deployed-at-major-northeastern-hospital-chain-79306877.html

TSA [Transportation Security Administration] tests capability of nuclear-detection devices at DIA [Denver International Airport, CO]

"On Thursday, the Transportation Security Administration completed a three-day exercise at Denver International Airport aimed at training the agency's VIPR [Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response] teams in the use of nuclear and radiological detection equipment, said Robert Selby, assistant to the special agent in charge of the Federal Air Marshal Service's Denver field office. […] The drill completed at DIA on Thursday included training on three pieces of preventative radiological nuclear detection equipment, Selby said. […] VIPR teams are deploying the radiological devices as part of a pilot program initiated by the Homeland Security Department's Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, Selby said." (Denver Post; 18Dec09; Jeffrey Leib)http://www.denverpost.com/newsheadlines/ci_14022529

Expo familiarizes Marines with new equipment [Camp Courtney, Okinawa]

"Working in a field that involves detecting and identifying nuclear threats or managing high explosives requires up-to-date knowledge of the protective gear and equipment in use. […] To better inform Marines about new and advanced equipment within their fields, Marines from Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marie Expeditionary Force, and Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Marine Corps Base Camp Butler, hosted their first combined expo showcasing the latest equipment upgrades on Camp Courtney Dec. 4. The expo was a necessary step to inform Marines about the methods they will employ to complete their missions in the future, said Master Sgt. Isaac Hernandez, CBRN chief. […] Unveiled equipment included improved protective gear with full body and respiratory protection from hazards in an unknown environment, a powered air-purifying respirator, which allows Marines to work for longer time periods in contaminated areas, and an enhanced bomb suit, for approaching suspect devices. […] Sgt. Brandon Trent, an EOD technician said he was thoroughly impressed with the new gear. 'We are being presented with newer and more advanced ways to safely neutralize hazards,' Trent said. 'Every tool serves a specific purpose and has the capacity to help us successfully complete our mission.'" (U.S. Marines in Japan; 18Dec09; LCpl. Jovane M. Holland) http://www.okinawa.usmc.mil/Public%20Affairs%20Info/Archive%20News%20Pages/2009/091218-expo.html

Officials planning for the nuclear worst [CA]

"Southern California […] officials are inventorying hundreds of old bomb and fallout shelters as part of their preparations for a radiological or nuclear event. Los Angeles and other metropolitan areas are drafting emergency plans while federal agencies study how to prepare the public for what county public health Director Jonathan Fielding describes as a 'low-likelihood, huge-consequences event.' His department hosted a workshop earlier this month for the emergency operations staff of the county's 88 cities in preparation for Golden Phoenix, an exercise scheduled for June 2010 that simulates the scenario of a 10-kiloton nuclear device detonated in Los Angeles. A seminar is planned for the medical community on Jan. 21 to provide information on what to expect and what actions they should take after a nuclear incident. […] Angelo Bellomo, the county director of environmental health who oversees the Radiation Management unit, [said] 'We think this is a great opportunity for us to open a dialogue with the 88 cities so they can begin to amend their emergency plans to include planning for a nuclear device.'" (Contra Costa Times; 15Dec09; Troy Anderson)ttp://www.contracostatimes.com/california/ci_14003957

Metro to upgrade terror[ist]-detection system [Washington D.C.]

"Metro will upgrade and expand its security and surveillance and early detection systems under a new contract with Smiths Detection. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority is one of three public transportation systems with an advanced PROTECT [Program for Response Options and Technology Enhancements for Chemical and Biological Terrorism] security system. […] Smiths Detection will be responsible for engineering, installation and maintenance of the expanded system, which will include new generation sensors and software, better video surveillance and improved response and recovery options. Financial terms of the expansion weren't disclosed." (Washington Business Journal; 09Dec09; Jeff Clabaugh) http://washington.bizjournals.com/washington/stories/2009/12/07/daily50.html

U.S. and Cambodia agree to secure seaport cargo

"The United States and Cambodia today signed an agreement in Phnom Penh to begin a cooperative effort to detect, deter, and interdict illicit smuggling of nuclear and other radioactive material. The agreement paves the way for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to work with the Secretariat of the National Counter Terrorism Committee and other government agencies in Cambodia to install radiation detection equipment and associated infrastructure at the Port of Sihanoukville. […] NNSA will also train Cambodian officials, including customs, on the use of the equipment and provide for maintenance of the equipment for a specified period. 'This agreement will help NNSA meet its goal of equipping 100 ports with radiation detection equipment by 2015 and play a critical role in NNSA's efforts to implement President Obama's nuclear security agenda,' said NNSA Administrator Thomas D'Agostino. 'Our cooperation with Cambodia to strengthen the global capability to prevent nuclear and radiological smuggling throughout the global maritime system will help keep vulnerable nuclear material out of the hands of terrorists, smugglers and proliferators.'" (NNSA; 14Dec09) http://nnsa.energy.gov/news/2754.htm

India to set up special training centres for cops

"The Government of India has planned to set up a set of special training centres to train state police forces to deal with […] terrorists and face chemical and biological warfare challenges. Under the plan a Central Academy for Police Training (CAPT), two Central Detective Training Schools (CDTS) and 20 temporary Counter Insurgency & Anti-Terrorism (CIAT) Schools in different states will be set up to improve capability of the state police forces in various aspects of policing. These are to be set up in the 11th Plan Period (2007-12). CAPT is to be set up at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, two CDTSs would be set up in Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat and four each temporary CIATs are proposed to be set up in five states namely Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa. It is proposed to provide training to the newly recruited Deputy Superintendents of Police of all states, police trainers in CAPT and investigating officers. […] Police Personnel of five states namely Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa would get training in counter insurgency and anti-terrorism in twenty temporary CIAT schools." (iGovernment Bureau; 17Dec09)

Israel's Home Front Command simulates CBRN strike

"Israel's Home Front Command has begun joint exercises with Magen David Adom and the Shaare Tzedek Medical Center to prepare for chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear missile attacks. The simulated attacks, which consist of three missiles hitting a Jerusalem neighborhood in quick succession, leave hundreds of people injured by a chemical substance. The victims are rushed […] to a large site prepared by Shaare Tzedek Medical Center. […] The […] Center is able to treat several hundred wounded during emergency situations. To test its capacity, the exercise sends 200 wounded citizens through its door, taking two hours to decontaminate them all. More than 100 soldiers took part in the exercise, which was deemed a great success, acted as a means of reassuring the government and citizens to the readiness of its soldiers for a biological or chemical attack. […] Col. Yoram Lev-Ran, Commander of the Home Front Command Jerusalem District, told the Israel Defense Forces, 'The civilian and military medical staff cooperated very well during the exercise. The system treating civilians in this kind of situations isn't natural, it's made up of a lot of bodies and organizations. We work on connecting them as well as possible, and I think that this sends a strong message to the Israeli public.' More exercises will be performed by the Home Front Command over the coming months at hospitals throughout the country to practice and improve preparedness in emergency situations." (Bio Prep Watch; 15Dec09; Ted Purlain) http://www.bioprepwatch.com/news/211283-israels-home-front-command-simulates-cbrn-strike

Singapore and Japan strengthen bilateral defence ties

"The MDE [Memorandum on Defence Exchanges] will strengthen the two countries' bilateral defence ties by formalising existing defence interactions between their defence establishments, such as exchange of visits by defence officials, policy dialogues, military staff talks and cross-attendance of courses and seminars. The MDE will also allow both countries to broaden their defence cooperation to include new areas such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief; protection against chemical, biological, radiological and explosive threats; and peace support operations. The signing of the MDE at the ministerial level underscores the warm and friendly bilateral defence relations between Singapore and Japan, and their commitment to strengthening defence cooperation for peace and stability in the region." (Government Monitor; 16Dec09) http://thegovmonitor.com/world_news/asia/singapore-and-japan-strengthen-bilateral-defence-ties-18977.html

U.S. and United Arab Emirates sign Megaports Initiative Agreement aimed at preventing nuclear smuggling

"The United States and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) last week signed an agreement in Abu Dhabi to begin a cooperative effort to detect, deter, and interdict illicit smuggling of nuclear and other radioactive material. The agreement, signed by U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman and UAE Deputy Minister of Interior Saif Abdullah Al Shafar, paves the way for the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to work with the UAE Ministry of Interior and other government agencies in UAE to install radiation detection equipment and associated infrastructure at the ports of Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. This cooperative framework also will train UAE officials on the use of the equipment and provide for maintenance of the equipment for a specified period." (National Aeronautics and Space Administration; 16Dec09) http://www.nnsa.energy.gov/news/2760.htm

Former top U.K. spy [John Scarlett] deceived WMD panel, insider says

"The United Kingdom's former intelligence chief deceived an independent panel investigating the country's involvement in the Iraq war when he last week overstated the accuracy of key assertions about former dictator Saddam Hussein's capacity to utilize weapons of mass destruction, said a former top British defense official with knowledge on the matter. As the then-head of the nuclear, chemical and biological unit in the British Defense Intelligence Staff, Brian Jones reviewed the information used by London as a basis for joining the U.S.-led 2003 invasion of Iraq. Jones told the London Independent that former MI6 chief John Scarlett misled the Iraq war inquiry when he said that intelligence that Hussein had the ability to fire missiles within 45 minutes was 'reliable and authoritative.' Jones said the intelligence was actually ambiguous and questionable and that it was 'absolutely clear' that it came from untested sources. […] The dossier's claim that Iraq could 'deploy chemical or biological weapons within 45 minutes of an order to do so' failed to clarify that the assertion referenced merely combat weapons and did not refer to weapons that could be fired at foreign nations, Jones said. Jones called upon the panel to name the source who provided the 45-minute launch assertion to the country's spy organizations. A lieutenant colonel in the Iraqi army in 2003 identified himself as the source." (Global Security Newswire; 16Dec09) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20091216_3614.php

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