War on Terrorism

Friday, March 05, 2010

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News, March 5, 2010

Engineering team developing helicopter that would investigate nuclear disasters
"Students at Virginia Tech's Unmanned Systems Laboratory are perfecting an autonomous helicopter they hope will never be used for its intended purpose. Roughly six feet long and weighing 200 pounds, the re-engineered aircraft is designed to fly into American cities blasted by a nuclear weapon or dirty bomb. The helicopter's main mission would be to assist military investigators in the unthinkable: Enter an American city after a nuclear attack in order to detect radiation levels, map and photograph damage." (Eureka! Science News; 05Mar10) http://esciencenews.com/articles/2010/03/04/engi

Durham [NH] anthrax [bacteria,] building cleanup to cost $70[,000]
"The remediation of the building where a Strafford County woman was exposed to anthrax spores will be costly. The Waysmeet Center, which serves as the United Campus Ministry for UNH, is on the verge of signing a $70,000 remediation contract with CYN Environmental Services of Stoughton, Mass., said the Rev. Larry Brickner-Wood, the ministry's chaplain and executive director. The remediation will include soaking, with a bleach-like solution, five common-area rooms and a hallway that tested positive for low levels of anthrax [bacteria]. In addition to the remediation cost, many items will be lost in the process, including art, furniture, books, a piano and other musical instruments. Brickner-Wood estimated the loss of those items at about $10,000-$15,000." (Fosters; 05Mar10; Aaron Sanborn) http://www.fosters.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100303/GJNEWS_01/703039931/-1/FOSNEWS

Experts find flaws in planning for MD army biolab
"The Army failed to fully analyze the risk of public exposure to deadly pathogens from a biodefense laboratory under construction at Fort Detrick, a National Academy of Sciences panel said Thursday. But rather than recommending a halt to the $680 million project, as some critics would like, the experts urged the Army to improve its risk assessment for such projects in the future. Workers broke ground in August for the new U.S. Army Medical Institute of Infectious Diseases, about 2 1/2 years after federal regulators approved an environmental impact statement that was the focus of the committee's review. The labs are scheduled to open in May 2014, replacing crowded facilities built in the 1960s." (Washington Examiner; 04Mar10; David Dishneau) http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/loca

DHS tackles next-generation bioterrorism detector
"A government biosecurity expert last week briefed lawmakers on the Department of Homeland Security's next-generation 'lab-in-a-box' to detect, to identify, and to aid response to a biological terrorism attack. [...] [DHS Directorate of Science and Technology undersecretary Dr. Tara] O'Toole testified that S&T has developed a possible next-generation detector to improve the BioWatch program that's currently being tested by the DHS Office of Health Affairs (OHA), which is responsible for the day-to-day management of the program. [...] 'Gen 3 Bio Watch would be far more technologically sophisticated than the current BioWatch sensors,' she told lawmakers, 'with the ability to automatically collect outdoor air samples, perform molecular analysis of the samples and report the results electronically to provide near-real time reporting.'" (Security Management; 01Mar10; Matthew Harwood)

Iraq faces major challenges in destroying its legacy chemical weapons
"Before the 1991 Persian Gulf War, Saddam Hussein's Iraq produced and stockpiled hundreds of tons of chemical weapons (CW), a small fraction of which still exist. After Iraq acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) on February 12, 2009, it was obligated to declare and destroy any surviving CW agents and munitions according to the detailed procedures set out in the treaty. Because some of Iraq's legacy chemical weapons were damaged by aerial bombing during the Gulf War and are extremely dangerous to handle, Baghdad will have great difficulty disposing of them. In addition, chemical munitions from the pre-1991 era will probably be recovered in the future and will have to be destroyed in a verifiable manner. How Iraq and the international community deal with these issues will have important implications for the CWC and the prospects for chemical disarmament in the Middle East." (James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies; 04Mar10; Jonathan B. Tucker) http://cns.miis.edu/stories/100304_iraq_cw_legacy.htm

Worker safety propels explosive idea for [destroying chemical weapons at] Madison [KY] depot
"Worker safety and international diplomacy are two primary reasons the Army proposes to explode some chemical weapons at Blue Grass Army Depot in Madison County. [...] In 2008, the agency responsible for the destruction of chemical weapons stockpiles in Kentucky and Colorado noted there were problems with some of the mustard projectiles in Tooele, Utah, where they were to be incinerated. The normally liquid mustard agent inside the 60-year-old artillery shells had solidified into a gel or tarlike consistency and could not be drained. In addition, workers couldn't remove the explosive element in each shell, known as the 'burster.' [...] 'Over time, the burster has essentially become glued in place,' said Jeff Brubaker, site project manager for the pilot plant at Blue Grass." (Lexington Herald-leader; 01Mar10; Greg Kocher) http://www.kentucky.com/2010/03/01/1161955/worker-safety-propels-explosive.html

Blue Grass [KY] depot clears international audit
"The Blue Grass Army Depot in Kentucky passed an annual international inspection last month as part of verification procedures aimed at ensuring U.S. compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention, the U.S. Army Chemical Material Agency [CMA] announced this week. Five inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the international body that oversees implementation of the convention, visited the depot for four days in late February to carry out a physical examination of the weapons stockpile that included tabulating stocks inside every storage igloo, according to a CMA press release." (Global Security Newswire; 05Mar10) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20100305_5271.php

Japan, Kazakhstan sign civilian nuclear cooperation deal
"Japan and Kazakhstan on Tuesday signed a deal aimed at boosting bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation and which enables Japan to secure a stable supply of uranium from the world's second-largest holder of uranium reserves, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said. During the negotiation process, Kazakhstan also signed an international convention for suppressing nuclear terrorism at Japan's urging, the ministry said." (Japan Today; 05Mar10) http://japantoday.com/category/national/view/japan-kazakhstan-sign-civilian-nuclear-cooperation-deal

Homeland Security scales back development of new radiation monitors
"The U.S. Homeland Security Department is curtailing its efforts on a new generation of radiation monitors that were at one point intended to replace the current line of sensors that screen cargo containers coming into the United States for material that could be used in a nuclear attack, a Senate committee announced yesterday. The department's Domestic Nuclear Detection Office told Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) that it was ceasing development of the Advanced Spectroscopic Portal monitors for use as primary screening tools at U.S. ports and border crossings, the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee said in a release." (Global Security Newswire; 05Mar10) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20100302_7317.php

Human teeth reveal history of catastrophes [teeth indicate levels of radiation exposure]
"Teeth are a window into our past, storing a record of the environmental pollutants and radiation they've encountered. Now scientists are developing tools to use teeth enamel to test how much radiation a person has been exposed to in the case of a major emergency, like a dirty bomb explosion. [...] [F]ree radicals can be a useful indicator of how much radiation a person has come in contact with. Scientists are working on perfecting a process called Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR) that can measure levels of free radicals in substances like teeth." (Livescience; 26Feb10; Clara Moskowitz) http://www.livescience.com/health/teeth-radiation-history-catastrophe-100226.html

Hayden: Al-Qaida would use nuclear device
"Former CIA Director Michael Hayden said the agency has taken it as 'a matter of faith' that if al-Qaida obtained a nuclear weapon, they wouldn't hesitate to use it against the United States. 'If they had the ability, they would do it,' he told Newsmax in an exclusive interview. 'Now as a practical matter, if you're asking me in my professional persona, it's weapons of mass destruction they're after. It's probably easier for them to work with chemical or biological weapons than with a nuclear device. 'And if they work with a nuclear device, our judgment was that it would more likely be a dispersal device, where you're just throwing radiation into the atmosphere, rather than the actual nuclear detonation. But we took it as an article of faith that if they could they would, and they wouldn't hesitate.'" (Newsmax; 05Mar10; Jim Meyers)

Nuclear security: DOE needs to fully address issues affecting protective forces' personnel systems
"Why GAO Did This Study: The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks raised concerns about the security of Department of Energy (DOE) sites with weapons-grade nuclear material, known as Category I special nuclear material (SNM). To better protect these sites against attacks, DOE has sought to transform its protective forces protecting SNM into a Tactical Response Force (TRF) with training and capabilities similar to the U.S. military. What GAO Found: Over 2,300 contractor protective forces provide armed security for DOE and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) at six sites that have long-term missions to store and process Category I SNM. DOE protective forces at each of these sites are covered under separate contracts and collective bargaining agreements between contractors and protective force unions. As a result, the management, organization, staffing, training and compensation--in terms of pay and benefits--of protective forces vary." (Government Accountability Office; 05Mar10) http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d10485t.pdf

Toxins delay opening of disaster training center [Fairborn, OH]
The environmental uncertainty of the former cement plant where Wright State University medical staffers want to build a disaster response training ground has forced university officials to rent the land until it is given a clean bill of health. That could take years and has some Fairborn city council members worried the city has increased liability and will lengthen its involvement in the project. 'Kudos to Wright State for protecting their interest,' said Councilman Frank Cervone. 'The city isn't protecting its interest.' The city took possession of the 54-acre former Cemex property, and the environmental liability that goes with it, in June 2009 after it won $3 million in grants to clean it up. When the environmental remediation is done, Fairborn will donate the land for the university's National Center for Medical Readiness-Technical Laboratory. Also called Calamityville, the disaster response training ground is expected to pump $75 million annually into the local economy." (Dayton Daily News; 05Mar10; Christopher Magan) http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/dayton-new

EODT to support munitions clearance
"The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers selected EOD Technology Inc. as a prime contractor providing munitions clearance support services. U.S. company EODT received the contract to support the Army Engineering and Support Center in Huntsville, Ala. Under the $945 million award, EODT will lead a team that includes Cape and SAIC supporting the Military Munitions Response Program and the Chemical Warfare Material Program. EODT says the munitions clearance services, designed to support contingency operations, will involve cleaning up hazardous and radiological waste along with de-mining projects among other environmental remediation work." (United Press International; 01Mar10) http://www.upi.com/Business_News/Security-Industry/2010/03/01/EODT-to-supp

Pilot gas mask center opens in Or Yehuda [Israel]
Purim is the traditional time of year for wearing masks, but the residents of Or Yehuda, who lined up at the post office Sunday, were there to receive masks of a completely different kind. The IDF [Israel Defense Forces] Home Front Command, together with the Israel Postal Company (IPC), opened a gas mask distribution center, where residents of the city can pick up their upgraded biological and chemical warfare protection kits. The distribution center in Or Yehuda is the test case upon which country-wide distribution will be modeled. The pilot project is scheduled to last 10 days and will operate out of eight points across the city. To enable the entire population to be refitted quickly and efficiently, the distribution points at IPC branches will be open for extended hours." (Jerusalem Post; 01Mar10; Ron Friedman)

Screening of all U.S.-bound air cargo still years away
"It could take the Homeland Security Department another two years to ensure that all cargo is screened for weapons of mass destruction before being flown into the United States on passenger airplanes, much longer than originally estimated, a senior department official told lawmakers Thursday. A 2007 law that Democrats wrote as soon as they took over Congress required the Transportation Security Administration to ensure that all cargo aboard passenger flights is screened for weapons of mass destruction by August 2010. The deadline applies to flights originating inside the United States and those from other countries." (Government Executive; 05Mar10; Chris Strohm) http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0310/03050cdam2.htm

Public safety exercise in Horry County [SC]
"Horry County is hosting a four day public safety exercise involving the military and nearly forty agencies on the local, state and federal levels. The exercise kicked off Monday near the former air force base by The Market Common. It's called Operation Going Coastal with a focus on handling large-scale terror related incidents involving chemical and biological weapons and labs. Monday SWAT Teams practiced rescuing hostages in a scenario involving explosives. 'We jointly work on an incident like this where it's seamless where if there were a bigger event in Myrtle Beach where all of these agencies come together. It can happen a lot more efficiently because we all know each other, we've trained together, we know each others tactics, techniques, procedures,' Cmdr. Raymond Strawbridge, Weapons Team, said. The exercise will involve a new scenario each day at different locations in Myrtle Beach and will end Thursday." (WPDE, Carolinas; 04Mar10; Kristen Van Dyke)

Local decision-making critical to water security, public health [American Water Works Association]
"The American Water Works Association (AWWA) recently advised the U.S. Congress that any new chemical security legislation should reflect the need for local water experts to make key treatment decisions and protect sensitive information from non-essential personnel. [...] 'As everyday guardians of public health and safety, water and wastewater professionals share Congress's desire for smart chemical security policy,' said AWWA Deputy Executive Director Tom Curtis. 'Water utilities are committed to measures that reduce risks from terrorism and natural disasters. We are equally committed to protecting drinking water from the risk of contamination.' A bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in the fall, H.R. 2868, would create a new chemical security program for water and wastewater utilities under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security providing input for the new regulatory process. The bill would place final decision on which materials - primarily disinfectants - or processes a water utility may use outside of the local community and with already under-resourced state drinking water primacy agencies." (Public Works; 04Mar10) http://www.publicworks.com/article.mvc/AWWA-Local-Decision-Making-Critical-To-Water-0001?VNETCOOKIE=NO

Economy forces cuts in fed, states' emergency med preparedness
"States and localities were already struggling to pay for the rising costs of emergency public health preparedness when they were hit with the unavoidable costs associated with preparedness for the H1N1 influenza pandemic, as well as preparedness for large-scale public health emergencies. But now, cash-strapped states have cut nearly $300 million from public health programs during the last year as federal funding for public health has been flat for the past five years, according to a new analysis by the Trust for America's Health (TFAH). [...] But as previous TFAH reports, studies by other NGOs, and surveys by the federal government in recent years have revealed, as Homeland Security Today and HSToday.us have reported, funding for emergency public health preparedness - especially for catastrophic mass casualty terrorist attacks or natural disasters - has continued to be woefully inadequate." (Homeland Security Today; 02Mar10; Anthony L. Kimery) http://www.hstoday.us/content/view/12358/149/

[Government Accountability Office survey finds] dirty bomb recovery plans lacking
"US cities recently surveyed by congressional investigators would require the assistance of the federal government to clean up after a dirty bomb attack, but they were confused as to which federal agencies from which to seek help in such a recovery. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which has responsibility for developing national recovery plans, should produce one for improvised nuclear devices (IND) or radiological dispersal devices (RDD) to designate clear lines of responsibility for cleaning up after a terrorist attack using a radiological device, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a Feb. 26 report. A GAO survey of 13 US cities and most states revealed that they would require significant assistance from the federal government to clean up after a dirty bomb or nuclear attack. But city and state officials could not consistently identify which federal agency would help them after such an attack, said the GAO report, Combating Nuclear Terrorism: Actions Needed to Better Prepare to Recover from Possible Attacks Using Radiological or Nuclear Materials." (Homeland Security Today; 01Mar10; Mickey McCarter) http://www.hstoday.us/content/view/12329/128/

Texas invests $1.8 million to develop a portable mass spectrometer
"Governor Rick Perry today announced that the Texas Emerging Technology Fund (TETF) is investing $1.8 million in 1st Detect Corp. for the development and commercialization of a portable mass spectrometer that detects residues and vapors from harmful substances. 1st Detect's spectrometer will be able to detect explosives, chemical warfare agents, toxic chemicals and volatile organic compounds, and can be used in the security, health care and industrial sectors. The company is partnering with the University of North Texas for the design, testing and evaluation of a medical diagnostic device, and with Baylor College of Medicine to identify markers for disease detection." (Gov Monitor; 04Mar10) http://thegovmonitor.com/world_news/united_states/texas-invests-1-8-million-to

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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