War on Terrorism

Friday, February 12, 2010

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News, February 12, 2010

Morning glory [discusses agent detection technology]
"It seems sugar ain't so sweet for Victorian Premier John Brumby and his fellow workers at 1 Treasury Place, Melbourne, where everyone was put on high alert last week when a routine security scan detected 'organic material' in an envelope addressed to Brumby. The suspicious package triggered a full-scale emergency response, with police, fire engines and specialist hazardous chemical teams barging through morning rush-hour traffic to contain any threat and secure the nerve centre of Spring Street. It can now be revealed the substance was in fact doughnut sugar, which glows the same colour as anthrax [spores] and other chemical nasties under the security scan." (Australian; 13Feb10)

Concern over bill to ban bio-weapons
"New legislation concerning the banning of biological weapons should also include the prohibition of transmission of such arms through Irish airspace, Labour's spokesman on foreign affairs Michael D Higgins has said. The Biological Weapons Bill, the heads of which were approved by Cabinet this week, will prohibit the use, development, production, manufacture, possession, stockpiling, acquisition, and retention or transfer of biological weapons. The ban will apply to vessels and aircraft registered in Ireland, members of the Defence Forces and citizens of Ireland outside the State. Speaking in the D[a]il yesterday, Mr Higgins raised concerns the Bill, in its current form, would not extend to a ban on the transmission of biological weapons through Shannon and other Irish airports. He also argued the Bill should be brought forward in conjunction with the new Air Navigation Bill. The latter is being discussed by the Cabinet subcommittee on extraordinary rendition." (Irish Times; 11Feb10; Mary Fitzgerald) http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2010/0211/1224264202782.html

Israeli biological warfare drill draws international crowd
"At Tel Hashomer hospital just outside Tel Aviv, hundreds of 'patients' began flooding the emergency ward during a recent exercise. They were met by medical personnel - decked out in impermeable white plastic suits, gloves and head coverings which left no part of the body exposed to germs to prevent the spread of a biological epidemic. 'The purpose of the drill is to see if we are able to detect what is the source of the disease at the right time the right place and the right bacterial virus [sic] and to give the right response,' said Col. Dr. Ariel Bar, Surgeon General of the Home Front Command.Over 1,000 volunteers were recruited and trained to behave as though they had been exposed to biological agents. The drill, code named Orange Flame, was the largest of its kind in Israel's history and was aimed at evaluating the ability of the Home Front Command, medical services, rescue teams and municipal authorities to respond to a biological catastrophe. [...] This drill was part of a major conference called International Preparedness and Response to Emergencies and Disasters. It drew some 200 foreign nationals from 30 countries including, India, Turkey, Europe and North America, African nations and former Soviet states." (All Headline News; 11Feb10)

Anthrax-contaminated [sic] heroin kills drug user
"A drug user has become the first person to die in England from a batch of anthrax-contaminated [sic] heroin which has now killed 11 addicts in the UK and Germany. [...] The death in Blackpool follows nine fatalities across central Scotland since the contaminated heroin emerged in early December in Glasgow. There have been 19 confirmed cases in Scotland, with deaths in Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Dundee, Fife and Stirling. [...] [Police and health experts]are investigating whether the heroin was contaminated at its likely source in Afghanistan, perhaps from contaminated soils or contact with infected animal skins, or was infected by a cutting agent used by drugs dealers or traffickers closer to Europe." (The Guardian; 10Feb10; Severin Carrell) http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/feb/10/anthrax-heroin-kills-drug-user

Mushroom fruit could aid in clean up of bioweapons
"Mushroom researcher Paul Stemets has discovered that mycelium from mushrooms may be able to break down and detoxify biological warfare agents. Mycelium, the fruit of a mushroom, breaks down hydrocarbons. Hydrocarbons form the base for many pollutants and biological weapons. In forests, mycelium's main role is breaking down and recycling nitrogen, carbon and plant and animal debris. Mushroom mycelia have also proven effective in breaking down lead and mercury as well as removing industrial toxins from soil, including pesticides, chlorine, dioxin and PCBs. It has also shown to be effective in killing E. coli and Staphylococcus." (Bio Prep Watch; 10Feb10; Nick Rees)

Effort extended in fight against Lassa virus
"A major extension in the collaborative effort between Corgenix Medical Corporation and Tulane University has been announced to combat viral hemorrhagic fever. Tulane University has been awarded a five-year contract totaling $15,224,927 by the National Institutes of Health for the expanded study of Lassa virus, which is classified as a Bio Safety Level 4 agent and is included on the NIAID Category A select agents list of potential bio-terrorism threats. The Scripps Research Institute, the University of California at San Diego, Boston University, the Broad Institute, Harvard University, Autoimmune Technologies, LLC, Vybion, Inc., and various partners in West Africa will collaborate on the project with Cogenix and Tulane University." (Bio Prep Watch; 09Feb10; Nick Rees)

QinetiQ North America developing roving, early-warning WMD detector
"QinetiQ North America announced today [08Feb10] that it is working with Brewer Science and Applied Systems Intelligence on a program to develop an autonomous, self-deploying sensor that will serve as a roving, early-warning detector of biological warfare activity. The program is being funded by the U.S. Army Research Office. Work on the project will be performed primarily at the Jordan Valley Innovation Center (JVIC) at Missouri State University, Springfield, Mo., and the Waltham, Mass., office of QinetiQ North America's Technology Solutions Group. All three companies involved in the project are members of JVIC.The program is designed to meet a stated Department of Defense need for a tactical chemical and biological defense as well as an intelligent network that can communicate and direct sensors so they provide real-time notice of a threat." (Press Release USA; 08Feb10) http://pr-usa.net/index.php?option=com_content

Poisonous gas munitions to remain off Helgoland
"Ninety tonnes of poisonous gas shells from World War II sunken off the coast of the North Sea island Helgoland will not be raised out of safety concerns, authorities in the state of Schleswig-Holstein said on Thursday. Experts have decided that removing the artillery shells would be more dangerous than allowing them to remain at the bottom of the ocean, the state's Deputy Interior Minister Volker Dornquast said. He said the shells, which are full of toxic nerve agent tabun, would likely explode from the change in pressure if they surface and suggested a fishing ban and a reduction of naval exercises in the area instead. The British military apparently ordered that the weapons be sunk some four kilometers south of the island in 1949. They now lie between 45 and 55 metres below the surface and contain almost 12 tonnes of tabun." (Local; 12Feb10) http://www.thelocal.de/national/20100211-25197.html

Camp Sibert cleanup continues at Site 2A [AL]
"Cleanup crews are back at the old World War II Camp Sibert area cleaning up hazardous material in one site, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Monday. Army Corps of Engineers spokesman Pat Robbins said crews from private contractor Parsons Corp. were at Site 2A removing dirt contaminated by material used decades ago to clean or neutralize munitions. [...] He said the cleanup crew is wearing contamination-protection moon suits because of the possibility of vapors from disturbed dirt. According to a report in 2007 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a tract in Site 2A was used for chemical agent decontamination training and contained buried material in three separate pits. The pits were dug up in 1948 and treated in various ways, including using chloride of lime. [...] The Army said in 1993 other burial sites might be within Site 2A. Other studies showed contaminants in area underground water and in soil samples." (Gadsen Times; 11Feb10; Dana Beyerle) http://www.gadsdentimes.com/article/20100208/NEWS/100209849/1017/NEWS?Title=Camp-Sibert-cleanup-continues-at-Site-2A

Destroying chemical weapons: US Army reviews technology
"In 2009, the US Army, working with the National Research Council (NRC), tested 4 technologies – 3 private-vendor systems and 1 Army-developed explosive destruction system (EDS) – to destroy chemical weapons. Tests were conducted at the Blue Grass Army Depot in Kentucky and the Pueblo Chemical Depot in Colorado. The developers of one of the systems tested – US-based Versar and Japan's Kobe Steel – announced [09Feb10] that they received a $13 million subcontract from URS Corp. to deliver their Detonation in a Vacuum Assisted Chamber (DAVINCH) system to the Deseret Chemical Depot in Tooele, UT for chemical weapons destruction. In addition to supplying the system, Versar will provide project management at the depot. The 3 private-vendor systems tested by Army and the NRC were the DAVINCH system developed by Kobe Steel and Versar, the transportable detonation chamber T-60 model supplied by US-based CH2M Hill, and the static detonation chamber SDC2000 model from Sweden's Dynasafe. For destruction of 155-mm mustard gas munitions, the report determined that the DAVINCH and SDC2000 were the most effective. For destruction of M55 rocket motors, the report found that the T-60 was most effective." (Defense Industry Daily; 09Feb10) http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/Destroying-Chemical-Weapons-US-Army-Reviews-Technology-06164/

Beryllium cleanup hydrogel wins DOE [Department of Energy] ESS&H [Environmental, Security, Safety and Health] award
"CBI Polymers, a subsidiary of Cellular Bioengineering, Inc., has announced that National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and Safety and Ecology Corporation (SEC) have won the Environmental, Security, Safety and Health (ESS&H) Achievement Award in recognition of their innovative use of DeconGel as a beryllium decontamination technique for the mitigation and abatement of hazardous particulate. DeconGel is a proprietary hydrogel used to efficiently and safely decontaminate surfaces of radioactive isotopes and other hazardous chemicals and toxins. [...] Led by Mr. Hector Rodriguez of NETL and Mr. Stace Johnson of SEC, NETL testing and use of DeconGel in beryllium decontamination reduced labor costs by a reported 70% compared to traditional methods due to decreased labor requirements, and significant reductions in the volume of waste generated. [...] In addition, DeconGel reduced harmful potential exposure to workers." (Nuclear Power Industry News; 11Feb10; Stephen Heiser) http://nuclearstreet.com/blogs/nuclear_power_news/archive/2010/02/11/use-of-decongel-r-for-beryllium-cleanup-wins-department-of-energy-s-environmental-security-safety-and-health-ess-amp-h-achievement-award-02116.aspx

Budget adds billions to fight terror[ist] threats abroad
"The fiscal 2011 budget proposed by U.S. President Barack Obama calls for billions of dollars in heightened counterterror[ism] funding, allocating additional money for U.S. special operations units, unmanned aircraft and a new cyber command, the Associated Press reported yesterday [...] Money in the budget is intended to combat a broader set of dangers, including al-Qaeda and other militants, adversarial nations, cyber attacks, and radiological 'dirty bomb' threats." (Global Security Newswire; 05Feb10) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20100205_9892.php

Wabash Valley Visions and Voices adds chemical depot documents [Newport, IN]
"Wabash Valley Visions and Voices recently expanded its digital history collection to include an archive of the history of the Newport Chemical Depot near Newport, Ind[iana]. [...] The depot, which has been the site of many Department of Defense projects including heavy water, RDX, nerve agent VX and TNT along with the storage and ultimate disposal of VX, must be closed by September 2011 under Base Realignment and Closure requirements. Through Wabash Valley Visions and Voices, historical documents, photos and videos will be available long after U.S. Army projects are finished on site, leaving a legacy for the people of Newport. [...] Though the archive will have information about multiple depot projects, it highlights the VX project, documenting the beginning stages of operation to the final stages of chemical stockpile elimination. One of seven chemical stockpile sites currently managed by the U.S. Army Chemicals Materials Agency, Newport is the third site to complete stockpile destruction. Projected to close in summer 2010, the NECD land will then be controlled by the Newport Chemical Depot Reuse Authority, a local planning group. The closure process began in 2008." (Indiana State Newsroom; 12Feb10; Lana Schrock)

Next gas tragedy in delhi?
"Waging chemical warfare was never so easy. Delhi, it seems, is sitting on a bomb and all that terrorists need to do is detonate it. And the magnitude of the tragedy would be such that the Bhopal gas leak incident would pale into insignificance, the elite National Security Guards (NSG) chief NPS Aulakh has warned. 'The Bhopal gas tragedy can be replicated by engineering a leak through explosive charges. The toxic industrial waste poses a potential threat and its use as a terror tool is under the realm of reality,' Aulakh told MiD DAY. [...] The warning by the elite anti-terror commando force assumes significance in the wake of the upcoming Commonwealth Games in October when millions of foreign tourists and athletes would visit the national capital. [...] Highly-placed NSG officials, requesting anonymity, confirmed that Delhi and Mumbai are on top of the hit-list of terrorists. 'In Delhi, where the industrial hubs like Okhla, Mayapuri, Narayana are situated in the heart of the city and are surrounded by residential colonies, any such attack could prove to be a huge disaster. The terrorists could use Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) and low-level explosives to engineer the leak,' they said. [...] In Delhi only government hospitals are enlisted to deal with a possible chemical attack. 'In Delhi, more than 70 per cent hospitals are private nursing homes. Government hospitals can not handle such disasters on their own,' the [NDMA]official said." (Mid Day; 12Feb10; Anshuman G Dutta) http://www.mid-day.com/news/2010/feb/110210-Delhi-Union-Carbide-factory-Bhopal-Gas-Tragedy-Terrorist.htm

Calif. water utility secures unmanned stations from biothreats [Salinas, CA]
"The investor-owned Alco Water Service has begun using an RFID [Radio Frequency Identification]-based system for security at its unmanned pump stations throughout Salinas, Calif., bringing them into compliance with the Bioterrorism Act of 2002. Under the act, water utilities that serve populations of 3,300 or more are required to asses the vulnerability of their systems to acts of terrorism. [...] In assessing the security of its unmanned well sites, consisting of small buildings housing a pump secured with barbed-wire fencing, Alco decided that RFID tags should be issued to personnel. Those tags are then to be linked to an access-control system that will only allow authorized workers to enter the pump stations. [...] The RFIDs will also allow Alco to tag its vital assets, which will let personnel better locate them quickly in the event of an emergency such as an attack, lowering the vulnerability of the water system." (Bio Prep Watch; 12Feb10; Pat Dulnier) http://www.bioprepwatch.com/news/211960

Air force decertifies nuclear warheads unit in N[ew] M[exico]
"The Air Force has decertified a unit responsible for maintaining an estimated 2,000 nuclear warheads at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico, but top military officials won't discuss specifics of the decision. Decertification means members of the 898th Munitions Squadron cannot perform their usual duties with nuclear weapons. [...] Air Force officials also declined to disclose what concerns prompted the action, but Ron Fry, a spokesman for the Air Force Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, said Wednesday the move wasn't prompted by any risk to the public. 'There is no risk to security, safety or health,' he said. The New Mexico unit will be re-inspected and could be recertified by June, Fry said. Until then, he said qualified individuals from Air Force units based elsewhere will monitor nuclear weapons stored at Kirtland, located on Albuquerque's south side. Fry said security and stewardship of nuclear weapons remains an Air Force priority, and squadrons assigned to handle nuclear assets are evaluated using rigid criteria." (Stars and Stripes; 12Feb10; Tim Korte)

Pentagon might shift command responsibility for combating WMD spread
"The U.S. Defense Department has just launched a high-level assessment of how its military forces might more effectively help combat the global proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, according to officials. The assessment -- led by U.S. Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Va. -- could result in a significant change in oversight or modifications in the way the military approaches missions to counter the spread of WMD materials and technologies. [...The Quadrennial Defense Review] said that Defense Secretary Robert Gates had decided to establish a 'Joint Task Force Elimination Headquarters' that would 'plan, train and execute' missions to eradicate nuclear, biological and other unconventional weapons or their components. However, Gates told reporters at a press conference last week that the statement in the review was merely a 'recommendation,' pending further study. That additional study, led by Joint Forces Command, might augur even farther-reaching changes that consolidate or shift command responsibility for the mission, Global Security Newswire has learned." (Global Security Newswire; 12Feb10; Elaine M. Grossman) http://gsn.nti.org/gsn/nw_20100212_7722.php

LA ports add ship to screen for biological weapons
"A new ship to detect chemical and biological weapons has been launched to protect the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department said Wednesday it started using the $3 million vessel this week. It is staffed by explosives experts and equipped with tools to screen cargo ships for threats before they enter the nation's busiest port complex. The experts board the ships and screen for substances used for weapons of mass destruction. Deputies have also added a helicopter to screen for radioactive material, while the ship's sonar system looks for underwater threats. The ships are subject to further inspection when they enter the ports." (National Public Radio; 10Feb10)

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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