War on Terrorism

Friday, January 08, 2010

ChemBio Weapons & WMD Terrorism News, January 8, 2010

Food quality and safety lab established in Azerbaijan

"A new laboratory has been set up in the State Service for Antimonopoly Policy & Consumer Rights Protection (Ministry of Economic Development of Azerbaijan; MED) [...] to supervise [the] quality of bakery products. The MED reported that the lab was equipped with the advanced facilities from such producers as Siemens, Varian, Labart, Orka Food, Esco Biotech and companies that passed accreditation in the above-mentioned Committee. 'The lab has created all conditions for analysis of physical-chemical, biological, and radiological indicators. [The] lab's equipment also allows assessment of other food products,' it was informed." (Azerbaijan Business Center; 07Jan10) http://abc.az/eng/news/main/41555.html

Kazakhstan opens its third bio-monitoring station in Almaty
Kazakhstan has opened its third biological agent monitoring station in Almaty. The new monitoring system has been built under the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program, which is better known as the Nunn-Lugar Program. The new facility is the 18th built in the world. [...] Facilities of this kind are designed to establish a first line of defense against infectious diseases by detecting outbreaks earlier and serving as a liaison with medical experts. [...] Its [the CTR] goal is to secure and dismantle weapons of mass destruction and their associated infrastructure in former Soviet Union states. [...] Joint Kazakhstan-U.S. efforts on non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction received media attention this week as President Barack Obama signed documents allocating more than one billion dollars in the next fiscal year for funding three high profile threat reduction programs, including the CTR program." (Thaindian News; 28Dec09) http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/world-news/kazakhstan-opens-its-third-bio-monitoring-station-in-almaty_100295681.html

Budget strips more than $600 million from Bioshield Program
"Roughly $609 million was shifted in this fiscal year from the Project Bioshield Special Reserve Fund, according to the Consolidated Appropriations Act. Lawmakers moved $304 million to the Health and Human Services Department's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and approved a White House request to transmit $305 million to an account within that department's Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. The transfer opens the door for the funds to possibly be used in sectors not solely devoted to threats posed by terrorism or rogue nations. [...] The measure also granted an administration proposal to transfer the fund's remaining balance from the Homeland Security Department to Health and Human Services, giving the agency full responsibility for managing the account. [...] The budget moves could hurt biomedical firms and lead them to cut back development of WMD countermeasures, some experts argued." (Global Security Newswire; 08Jan10; Martin Matishak) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20100108_2084.php

Ebola, Marburg vaccines undergoing tests in [San Antonio, TX]
"An experimental vaccine against the deadly Ebola and Marburg viruses is undergoing tests at Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research. The Dutch pharmaceutical company Crucell, which developed the vaccine under a $30 million contract with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, will pay the foundation up to $2.7 million to test it in animals. No treatment exists for Ebola and Marburg, which often cause uncontrolled bleeding and death. While occasional outbreaks still occur in Africa, where both originated, U.S. health officials are concerned they might be used as biological weapons." (San Antonio Express-news; 08Jan10; Don Finley) http://www.mysanantonio.com/health/80946732.html

HHS [Department of Health & Human Services] delivers the nation’s first health security strategy
"HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today released the National Health Security Strategy, the nation's first comprehensive strategy focused on protecting people's health during a large-scale emergency. The strategy sets priorities for government and non-government activities over the next four years. [...] National health security means that the nation and its people are prepared for, protected from, and resilient in the face of health threats or incidents with potentially negative health consequences such as bioterrorism and natural disasters. The strategy provides a framework for actions that will build community resilience, strengthen and sustain health emergency response systems, and fill current gaps. [...] The National Health Security Strategy and the accompanying interim implementation guide outline 10 objectives to achieve health security. [...] The National Health Security Strategy also highlights specific actions that the nation [...] should take to prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover from health threats. Among the initial actions for the federal government are conducting a review to improve the system for developing and delivering countermeasures - medications, vaccines, supplies and equipment for health emergencies; coordinating across government and with communities to identify and prioritize the capabilities, research, and investments needed to achieve national health security; and evaluating the impact of these investments." (U.S. Department Of Health & Human Services; 07Jan10) http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2010pres/01/20100107a.html

Delaware business: Newark lab wins vaccine contract
"Fraunhofer USA Center for Molecular Biotechnology [...] said Tuesday that it has received a $5.3 million contract from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, a unit of the Department of Defense tasked with protecting the country from weapons of mass destruction. The government hopes to find a flexible technology that can quickly produce a large amount of vaccine for biological agents in the event of a terrorist attack. [...] Fraunhofer Executive Director Vidadi Yusibov said his group has been working on anthrax and plague vaccines for about four years, aided by government grants. [...] Both diseases are rarely seen in humans in the United States but could be deadly as a biological weapon. With the new contract, Fraunhofer is expected to demonstrate safety and efficacy in animal testing of a one-shot vaccine to protect against both infectious diseases, with the goal of having a product ready for initial testing in humans. [...] Fraunhofer has developed a technology to produce vaccines quickly by growing target proteins in tobacco plants. [...] Fraunhofer [...] will look to produce the anthrax and plague vaccines separately and combine them into a single formulation." (Delaware News Journal; 06Jan10; Andrew Eder)


Video games to train emergency responders

"Video games will be used to train workers in emergency response training in the face of a biological attack, U.S. authorities have announced. [...] Colleen Monahan, a public health expert at the University of Illinois [at] Chicago [...] said that the training required to prepare public health workers and volunteers how to react to a bioattack is incredibly costly and time consuming. [...] To provide the necessary training in the face of costs, a new pod games has been developed that allows players to pick a specific role and make quick decisions, all while dealing with a wide array of people in an artificially simulated disaster scenario. 'We can give the cities that are using the game data that tells them what percentage of the work force is prepared,' Monahan said. ?The video game technology is still expensive, however, and authorities are investigating the use of existing virtual worlds such as Second Life as a training ground for the tests." (Bio Prep Watch; 05Jan10; Nick Rees)


Elusys receives contract for up to $143 Million from the U.S. Federal Government to fund advanced development of Anthim(R), a new treatment for Anthrax [Pine Brook, NJ]

"Elusys Therapeutics, Inc. [...] announced today that it has signed a contract potentially totaling up to $143 million to complete the final development, commercial manufacturing and licensure of Anthim, the company's late stage anthrax therapeutic. Funding will be provided by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) within the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. [...] If licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the federal government could buy Anthim for the Strategic National Stockpile under Project Bioshield. [...] Anthim is being developed by Elusys to treat people stricken by inhaled anthrax [bacteria] and to prevent illness [resulting] from anthrax [bacteria]. [...] The new contract [...] will support the company's clinical and commercial strategy, including scaling up manufacturing, expanded human safety trials and pivotal, non-clinical effectiveness studies in animals, through FDA licensure. [...] Elusys also reported results from an animal study that demonstrated that a single dose of Anthim provided up to 94% survival when administered to study subjects after symptoms of disease were present." (PR Newswire; 04Jan10) http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/elusys-receives-contract-for-up-to-143-million-from-the-us-federal-government-to-fund-advanced-development-of-anthimr-a-new-treatment-for-anthrax-80617792.html

DHS seeks revolutionary bioterror[ism response] technologies

"The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has issued a long-range broad agency announcement seeking revolutionary technologies to improve homeland security missions and operations. The broad agency announcement seeks, among other things, to develop and demonstrate homeland security technology for a chemical and biological division. The announcement is to remain open for one year, closing on Dec. 31, 2010, with proposals and white papers accepted at any time during that period. Selected admission will then need to show prototype technologies in the field. The chemical and biological division component of the broad agency announcement involves technologies that can be used to characterize and rank chemical and biological weapons as well as those for surveillance, early attack warning, decontamination and defense of agriculture and food supplies. [...] The announcement [...] seeks sharing of chemical and biological threat sensor data among state, local and federal authorities as well as countermeasures for foreign animal disease pathogens affecting food animals. The announcement also contains a section on human factors and behavioral sciences, which aims to improve detection and understanding of threatening individuals, groups and radical movements to prepare for, respond to and recover from catastrophic events such as a biological attack." (Bio Prep Watch; 04Jan10; Nick Rees)


U.S. Postal Service to be in charge of drug delivery in the event of a bioattack

"Following an executive order released Wednesday [30Dec09], the U.S. Postal Service will be put in charge of delivering drugs and other medical aid to Americans in the event of a large-scale biological weapon attack. President Obama's order states that the postal service will be in charge of dispensing medical countermeasures for biological weapons in the event of an attack because of its ability to deliver to U.S. citizens rapidly. Federal agencies are required to develop a response plan within 180 days including possible law enforcement escorts for postal service workers under the order, which cites anthrax [bacteria] as a primary threat consideration. The order would see local law enforcement supplemented by local federal law enforcement officers. The Secretaries of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services, acting in coordination with the Secretary of Defense, must develop a concept for operations and establish requirements for dispensing medical countermeasures to an affected population through a federal rapid response program. The order, President Obama says, does not supersede the authorities of other agencies and seeks to 'mitigate illness and prevent death; sustain critical infrastructure; and complement and supplement state, local, territorial, and tribal government medical countermeasure distribution capacity." (Bio Prep Watch; 31Dec09; Nick Rees)


Delaware leads nation in emergency health preparedness

"A recent report from Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation gives high marks to the state of Delaware. According to the study, Delaware achieved nine out of 10 key indicators of public-health emergency preparedness. Overall, the seventh annual Ready or Not? Protecting the Public's Health from Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism report found 20 states scored six or less out of 10 key indicators of public-health emergency preparedness. [...] Helping Delaware achieve its score were the fact[s that] Delaware purchased 50 percent or more of its share of federally subsidized antiviral medications to prepare for a potential pandemic flu outbreak, tracks diseases through an internet system used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and increased or maintained level of funding for public health services from fiscal year 2007-08 to fiscal year 2008-09." (Cape Gazette; 29Dec09) http://www.capegazette.com/storiescurrent/200912/de-health29.html

Pakistan moves to ban bioweapons

"The federal Cabinet of Pakistan has given its tentative support to a new draft bill that would ban biological weapons activities. ?The Biological and Toxin Weapon Convention Bill 2009, which would allow for the implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention, would require necessary legislative, regulatory and administrative steps be taken to prevent the proliferation of biological weapons of mass destruction.?The bill [...] would also call for the prevention of delivery systems and related technologies for biological weapons.? The new law would require that no person develop, manufacture, design, produce, stockpile, transport, import, export, sell, transfer or otherwise acquire, possess, control or retain biological weapons. [...] The bill outlaws the manufacture, development, design, production, stockpiling, transportation, transferring or acquisition or retention of any material, equipment or technologies intended for the preparation of biological agents or toxins for hostile purposes or in armed conflict. ?The bill also bans any delivery designed to use biological agents or toxins for hostile purposes or for use in armed conflict." (Bio Prep Watch; 07Jan10; Tina Redlup)


Anniston Disposal Facility begins short maintenance phase [AL]

"Officials at the Anniston Chemical Agent Disposal Facility (ANCDF) announced today the start of a scheduled maintenance phase. Chemical munitions demilitarization operations will likely resume in 10 to 14 days. [...] ANCDF employees have safely processed 83,112 mortars and 41,098 gallons of mustard agent. [...] Site officials point out that scheduled maintenance allows the Anniston Team to keep equipment running efficiently and to help ensure the continued safety of the community, the environment and the work force." (U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency; 05Jan10; Michael B. Abrams and Terry M. Sholin)


Colorado appeals ruling on mustard agent deadline

"Colorado has appealed a federal court ruling that limited the state's ability to regulate the destruction of obsolete chemical weapons stored outside Pueblo. The state filed suit in 2008 hoping to require that the Army meet a congressional deadline to destroy about 2,600 tons of mustard agent stored at the Pueblo Chemical Depot by 2017. A judge ruled last September that federal law limits the state's authority to set timelines and deadlines for destroying the mustard agent. State officials appealed to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last month. A telephone conference is scheduled for Jan. 19 to discuss whether a settlement is possible." (Coloradoan; 04Jan10; Source: AP) http://content.usatoday.net/dist/custom/gci/InsidePage.aspx?cId=coloradoan

Chemical disposal [sic] ahead of schedule

"Workers at the Pine Bluff Arsenal have eliminated more than 50 percent of mustard ton containers stored there, the third and final campaign to eliminate stockpiled chemical weapons at the arsenal. 'We are confident that we will complete disposal operations by the Chemical Weapons Convention Treaty date of April 29, 2012,' Mark Greer, Pine Bluff Chemical Agent Disposal Facility site project manager, said recently. 'Currently we are operating ahead of schedule. The early completion estimate in the Transition Planning Guide predicts the end of the ton container disposal campaign to be in December 2010." (Pine Bluff Commercial; 02Jan10; Wes Clement) http://www.pbcommercial.com/articles/2010/01/03/news/news3.txt

Nerve-agent antidote vulnerable

"Federal inspectors say states often have not been storing antidote to nerve agent at the proper temperatures, raising concerns about whether it would be effective after a terrorist attack. Worse, 'these findings raise concerns about whether similar vulnerabilities also apply to other stockpiled CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) assets ... in the $3.5 billion Strategic National Stockpile, because all assets share the same quality (control) system,' said a report released Thursday by the inspector general [Daniel R. Levinson] of the Health and Human Services Department. That may raise eyebrows, especially in Utah, one of the few places where some residents may have been inadvertently exposed to nerve agent because of military testing and operations. [...] The new report said [...] the CDC has placed 1,900 CHEMPACK containers - each with antidote for either 454 or 1,000 people, depending on their configuration - in multiple locations with participating states to allow them to quickly respond to a nerve agent release. But it found the CDC gave some improper guidelines about storage temperatures and often did not monitor those temperatures as often as it should have with remote monitors included in each container." (Deseret News; 24Dec09; Lee Davidson) http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705353913/Nerve-agent-antidote-vulnerable.html

Mustard leak concerns spark evacuation in Australia

"Concerns that mustard agent had been released yesterday at a recycling site in Lithgow, Australia, forced two people to undergo decontamination and one neighborhood to be evacuated, the Australian Associated Press [AAP] reported. Roughly 50 businesses and residences in an area around the Inch Street recycling site in New South Wales were cleared of people after a forklift perforated a container labeled military ordnance. Initial reports indicated that the incident was being treated as a mustard agent leak. [...] A scientific official was dispatched from Sydney to the area to determine whether the substance was actually the chemical warfare material, Fire Brigade Superintendent Ian Krimmer said. The chemical was subsequently identified by Krimmer as being of a hydrocarbon-based nature, flammable and similar to a gel. Residents were permitted to return to their homes late yesterday, AAP reported." (Global Security Newswire; 08Jan10) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20100108_2955.php

Chilean court frees two suspects [Pedro Valdivia and Patricio Silva] in former President's [Eduardo Frei Montalva] death

"Two doctors suspected of involvement in the poisoning death of a former Chilean president were ordered released from custody for a second time yesterday, Agence France-Presse reported. Pedro Valdivia and Patricio Silva were first imprisoned early last month, freed after 10 days and then later taken back into custody. An appeals court said yesterday they must be released as the case continues. The two former physicians, along with four others, are alleged to have played a role in the 1982 death of Eduardo Frei Montalva, who served as Chile's president in the 1960s and went on to become a vocal opponent of dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet. His death was originally determined to be the result of complications following stomach surgery. A 2004 examination of his body, however, revealed the presence of small amounts of mustard agent and other poisonous chemicals." (Global Security Newswire; 08Jan10) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20100108_4726.php

Police say antifreeze-laced margarita killed U.S. man; girlfriend charged with murder [Canandaigua, NY]

"A western New York woman is accused of mixing up a batch of antifreeze-laced margaritas for her live-in boyfriend, who died four days after drinking the toxic cocktail. State police arrested 51-year-old Cynthia Galens of Farmington on Wednesday and charged her with second-degree murder in the death of 47-year-old Thomas Stack. [...] An autopsy listed the cause of death as 'complications of ethylene glycol intoxication,' referring to the active ingredient in automotive antifreeze." (Metro News, Edmonton, Canada; 07Jan10; Source: AP)


Woman dodges prison time for killing reputed 'Dirty Bomb' plotter husband [James Cummings]

"A 32-year-old Maine woman was freed yesterday after receiving a suspended prison sentence for killing her husband, who she said had planned to assemble and detonate a radiological dirty bomb following the election of U.S. President Barack Obama, the Associated Press reported. Amber Cummings was sentenced for the manslaughter death of James Cummings under a plea agreement reached with prosecutors. The deal called for her to receive no more than a year in prison and a six-year probationary period. Authorities collected explosive and radioactive materials from the couple's Belfast home after James Cummings' death. They also found information on preparation of a dirty bomb, which would use conventional explosives to disperse a radioactive substance." (Global Security Newswire; 08Jan10; Source: AP) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20100108_2935.php

Israel to redistribute gas masks, simulate bio-attack

"Despite a lack of funds, Israel's government this week decided to begin redistributing gas masks and personal protection kits to all of the nation's citizens. The redistribution is scheduled to begin in February and will take three years. Most Israelis have been without updated gas masks since 2003. The decision to get gas masks back in the hands of every Israeli was made in conjunction with the launch of Israel's largest ever simulated biological attack. The simulation, set to begin on Wednesday, will take place in Tel Aviv and will include thousands of rescue and medical workers and hundreds of victims. In addition to the threat of a direct non-conventional missile attack by Iran or Syria, Israel fears both nations have provided the Hizballah and Hamas terror[ist] groups with biological weapons. Both groups now have missiles capable of hitting Israel's major population centers." (Israel Today; 05Jan10)


HHS [Department of Health and Human Services] contracts aim to improve emergency response

"The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has awarded nine contracts for development of better devices to determine the level of radiation a person has absorbed after a nuclear or radiological incident. The contracts, worth $35 million in all, are being administered by the department's Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). Each contract recipient has identified particular physical or biological characteristics, known as biomarkers, to indicate how much radiation has been absorbed. The contractors will study the accuracy of the biomarkers and will determine if their proposed devices measure them effectively. The next step is development of prototypes of portable devices that can be used in the field by responders to test for radiation absorption." (Business & Legal Reports; 08Jan10)


Y-12 focus changing from bomb making to national security

"Y-12 is not just a bomb plant anymore. [...The] plant still manufactures warhead parts to refurbish aging weapons in the U.S. nuclear arsenal. But dismantling weapons retired from the stockpile is a bigger emphasis these days, and other missions - efforts to counter terrorism and stem the proliferation of weapons worldwide - are gaining more attention. [...] 'What we're really trying to do is leverage Y-12 assets to support these national priorities,' said Gerald Devault, the director of nonproliferation and nuclear security programs. [...] 'We have all this expertise, whether it's handling material (enriched uranium) or how you account for it, secure it, or respond to incidents involving nuclear material,' he said. Now that expertise, developed originally for production of nuclear weapons, is being used in the Global Threat Reduction Initiative whose goal is to prevent terrorists or rogue states from acquiring nuclear and radioactive materials for weapons of mass destruction. Y-12 has turned a couple of its old Cold War facilities into training sites. [...] Hospitals and other institutions that use nuclear materials can send their personnel to the Y-12 facility to test their security operations against sabotage or various radiological threats. The training site can be set up to mimic an institution's interior, with use of real radioactive sources and security personnel to simulate the bad guys." (Knoxville News Sentinel; 29Dec09; Frank Munger) http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2009/dec/29/y-12-focus-changing-bomb-making-national-security/

CNS ChemBio-WMD Terrorism News is prepared by the Chemical and Biological Weapons Nonproliferation Program of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in order to bring timely and focused information to researchers and policymakers interested in the fields of chemical, biological, and radiological weapons nonproliferation and WMD terrorism.

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