War on Terrorism

Friday, June 25, 2010

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News, June 25, 2010

Underground terror[ism] threat [Burkholderia pseudomallei]
"A deadly terrorist weapon could be buried in the backyards of Darwin's northern suburbs, United States scientists fear. US authorities say melioidosis - commonly known as Nightcliff Gardeners Disease - is [caused by] a potential bioterror[ism] threat. The US Government believes the tropical disease, caused by soil-dwelling bacteria, could become the next anthrax-style bioterrorism threat. Melioidosis caught the attention of the US Government when it realised the naturally-occurring bacteria had the potential to be used as biological weapon. Australian and American scientists are now on the verge of a breakthrough in the early diagnosis of the disease which killed 10 people in the Northern Territory in the wet season. Professor Bart Currie, who works in the infectious diseases department at Royal Darwin Hospital and is the melioidosis project manager at Menzies School of Health Research, said interest in the bacteria from countries outside the endemic regions had grown dramatically in the past 10 years, particularly since the 2001 anthrax attacks [sic] in the US." (Northern Territory News; 20Jun10; Larine Statham) http://www.ntnews.com.au/article/2010/06/20/157481_ntnews.html

Survival rate up to 100% for late stage treatment of anthrax infections
"IQ Therapeutics B.V., Groningen, the Netherlands, announced this week that in collaboration with the University of Texas Medical Branch it has obtained outstanding results for the treatment of inhalation anthrax. In a rabbit model up to 100% survival could be achieved with extended time to treatment (48h post infection) with a combination of two specific monoclonal antibodies developed by IQ Therapeutics. This has significant potential for saving lives of infected people who have no immediate access to treatment. IQ Therapeutics' Chief Scientific Officer Herman Groen states: 'The results obtained in the recent studies are unprecedented. We have demonstrated in a rabbit model that we can achieve up to 100% survival after treatment with a single dose of two antibodies (anti-PA [anti-Protective Antigen] and anti-LF [anti-Lactoferrin]), at 48 hours after the infection. Our advanced stage treatment is unique and has a tremendous advantage in real life settings where an infected person might not immediately be aware of the infection or does not have immediate access to proper treatment. Especially in those cases, IQ Therapeutics' dual antibody approach can in the future help saving lives, as there is currently no cure available for that stage of disease.'" (PR Newswire; 22Jun10) http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/survival-rate-up-to-100-for-late-stage-treatment-of-anthrax-infections-96879099.html

Purdue [University] to work with Pakistan through Nunn-Lugar program
"Purdue University will receive a $1.6 million grant from the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program to work with three Pakistani institutions to develop real-time infectious disease surveillance and responses. The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) informed U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar of the grant today. The objective of the five year collaboration is to develop a broadly-based real-time framework for collecting, communicating, analyzing, and visualizing infectious disease epidemic data in Pakistan. [...] [The DTRA announcement stated,] 'Each year, millions of Pakistanis are exposed to, and infected with, deadly pathogens[, causing diseases] including hepatitis, dengue, tuberculosis, H5N1 and H1N1. Lack of a robust infrastructure for timely collection, reporting and analyses of infectious diseases (IDs) data undermines epidemic preparedness and poses serious health challenges and security threats to the general public in Pakistan. In fact, monitoring and response to any natural or manmade ID outbreak is nonexistent in the country due to insufficient resources, ineffective screening, poorly trained staff and inadequate health policy implementation. The absence of security measures for protecting supply of food products and drinking water exposes additional serious health and security vulnerabilities.'" (U.S. Senate: Offices of Senator Richard G. Lugar; 21Jun10)

Emergent [BioSolutions Inc.] sells anthrax vaccine to [U.S.] allies
"Emergent BioSolutions Inc., which supplies anthrax vaccines to the U.S. government, has delivered doses of its BioThrax vaccine to governments of several allied nations. The company did not identify the countries or disclose the number of doses sold [...] BioThrax is designed to protect against anthrax exposure and has been given to about 2.4 million military personnel. [...] Emergent bought a 55,000 square foot space in East Baltimore last year for $7.85 million with plans to hire 125 at the facility." (Baltimore Business Journal; 24Jun10; Jeff Clabaugh) http://baltimore.bizjournals.com/baltimore/stories/2010/06/21/daily30.html

New weapons to protect against anthrax [causing] attacks
"The 2001 anthrax attacks [sic] in the United States are fostering development of a new generation of vaccines, antibiotics, and other medications to protect people against the potentially deadly bacteria in any future bioterrorist incident. That's the conclusion of a sweeping overview of scientific research on medical technology to combat the anthrax threat. It appears in ACS' [American Chemical Society] bi-weekly Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. In the article, Dimitrios Bouzianas notes that several existing antibiotics are available to combat an anthrax infection. However, the emergence of artificially engineered B. anthracis strains, resistant to multiple antibiotics (including the front-line agents ciprofloxacin, doxycycline, and [beta]-lactam antibiotics) has prompted researchers to pursue additional therapeutic options. Such alternatives include small molecules and antibodies against toxins that the lethal bacteria secrete. Passive immunization using a polyclonal or a high-affinity monoclonal antibody may offer adjunctive value to antibiotic therapy. Today's drug arsenal has another weakness: no medications available to fight the dangerous toxin that can circulate in a person's blood when antibiotic treatment begins after the disease has taken hold. Therefore, there is an urgent need for the discovery of antitoxin agents that would be effective at the end stage of anthrax." (Red Orbit; 23Jun10) http://www.redorbit.com/news/health/1883486/new_weapons_to_protect_against_anthrax_attacks/

Albuquerque-area health emergency response exercise scheduled for Wednesday [23Jun10; NM]
"Albuquerque-area residents should not be alarmed by emergency responders in moon suits Wednesday; state agencies and local governments will be conducting a major public health emergency exercise to see how well they can deploy medical supplies such as antibiotics, antitoxins and surgical supplies during a real crisis. [...] The Strategic National Stockpile contains large quantities of medicine and medical supplies for responses to public health emergency responses like flu outbreaks, that could deplete local medical supplies. In a real emergency, the Health Department would distribute medical supplies to 81 distribution locations, where people would be directed to receive them, according to the press release. Wednesday's exercise will involve only four of those locations. The Albuquerque-area exercise is part of the Cities Readiness Initiative [which] is a federal effort designed to increase bioterrorism preparedness in 72 U.S. cities." (New Mexico Independent; 23Jun10; Bryant Furlow) http://newmexicoindependent.com/57992/albuquerque-area-health-emergency-response-exercise-scheduled-for-wednesday

Hawaii agencies prepare for anthrax scares
"On Wednesday the Hawaii Civil Defense and the Federal Fire Department were just some of the 10 agencies that participated in the third Makaala Drill at the U.S postal service processing and distribution center near the airport. The 9/11 scare prompted the US Postal Service to use the Biohazard Detection System (BDS) in 2005. On Wednesday postal service workers evacuated the building while Honolulu and Federal Fire fighters were in suits controlling the decontamination process. HPD [Honolulu Police Department] personnel volunteered to go through a mock decontamination process requiring them to change out of their clothes, undergo a liquid wash and change into a blue trek suit. [...] The BDS is used at every major processing and distribution center across the nation. Hawaii has only one major process and distribution center. Along with the Makaala drill, the US Postal service also has other plans that prepare the postal staff during other emergencies." (National Broadcasting Corporation: KGMB/KHNL; 23Jun10)

Federal biodefense spending increases
"President Obama's proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year provides for $6.48 billion in biodefense spending, a 4% increase over last year, with the bulk of those funds targeting not only biodefense but also public health, healthcare, national security, and international security issues, according to a report from the Center for Biosecurity of UPMC [University of Pittsburgh Medical Center]. After yearly decreases in biodefense funding from FY2006 to FY2008, the new proposed budget represents the third year of increases. The largest piece of the biodefense pie, $4.72 billion (73% of the total) will go to the Department of Health and Human Services, followed by the Department of Defense (12%), and the Department of Homeland Security (7%), with the remaining funds shared by the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and State, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Science Foundation. The authors, Crystal Franco and Tara Kirk Sell, note that, of the $6.48 billion budget request, $5.90 billion--or 91%--is allocated to programs that have both biodefense and nonbiodefense applications and that address a range of health and security issues." (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center; 23Jun10) http://www.upmc-biosecurity.org/website/center/newsroom/archive/2010-06-23_fedfunding.html

County prepares for crisis with emergency drill [Sharon Hill, PA]
"Residents are expected to flood an emergency medication dispersal point at Academy Park High School this morning in an effort to offset the deadly effects of aerosolized anthrax [bacteria] following an apparent terrorist attack Monday morning. Not really. But the county is trying to assure residents it is prepared for just such a scenario with an ambitious test of its Strategic National Stockpile response plan this week. 'These tests are critical to our emergency preparedness,' said County Council Chairman Jack Whelan at a press conference at the high school Monday. 'If today's scenario were real, we would be having a press conference right now, explaining to the people of Delaware County and to the region what happened, what the threat was and how we're going to respond to the threat.' This particular scenario -- in which a crop-dusting plane has spread the invisible and odorless Bacillus anthracis over sections of I-95 -- triggered the establishment of a command center at the Delaware County Intermediate Unit Monday morning. That was quickly followed by coordination with state and federal authorities, and the rapid deployment of 'medication' to Points of Dispensing (PODs)." (Delaware County Daily Times; 22Jun10; Alex Rose) http://delcotimes.com/articles/2010/06/22/news/doc4c202b6d05ba5919683876.txt

Colleges to help develop bioterror warning system [NC]
"Scientists from UNC-Chapel Hill, N.C. State and other public and private agencies will announce a new bioterrorism warning system project this morning. The North Carolina Bio-Preparedness Collaborative is a one-year, $5 million project funded by a federal grant. The idea: to establish a rapid-response warning system to alert health officials within hours of indications of a bioterrorist attack, threat of disease or other threats to public safety. [...] The project will draw on health data like doctor's notes, electronic hospital records, school nurse logs, prescription database and other information sources in an effort to detect a public health threat before it would be found with traditional surveillance systems, according to a university news release." (News Observer: North Carolina; 21Jun10; Eric Ferreri) http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/06/21/543883/colleges-to-help-develop-bioterror.html

Oakland co. gets new line of defense against anthrax [MI]
"The Oakland County Sherriff's Office will now be able to safeguard its first-responders and the citizens they serve from anthrax [bacteria], thanks to a new cleaning solution that will be unveiled at a news conference this afternoon. The county already owns the machine that emits the cleanser as a mist and currently uses the device, made by Florida-based ZIMEK Technologies, to clean prisons cells to protect against the spread of several infectious diseases, including H1N1, MRSA and tuberculosis, county officials said this morning. It will now be used to clean patrol cars, too." (Detroit Free Press; 21Jun10; Zlati Meyer) http://www.freep.com/article/20100621/NEWS03/100621014/1322/Oakland-Co.-gets-new-line-of-defense-against-anthrax

Greenpeace says Kuehne chemical plant in Kearny is "highest-risk" facility in nation and terrorism or accident there could imperil 12 million people [NJ]
"The environmental group Greenpeace released a report yesterday detailing risks and dangers the group says a Kearny chemical plant poses to millions of people in the New York/New Jersey area. [...] According to the report, an accident or terrorist attack on the plant could put some 12 million people at risk, making the plant the highest-risk facility in the nation. Kuehne manufactures products for the purification of water and waste water. Large amounts of chlorine gas are stored at the plant for the production of bleach. During the May visit, members of Greenpeace photographed the facility and several rail cars containing chlorine gas from a pedestrian walkway on the Pulaski Skyway, the Hackensack River and the plant's front gate. According to the Greenpeace report, the facility can have up to 11 rail cars on site at a time, each with the capacity to store 180,000 pounds of chlorine gas. [...] The storage of these chemicals on site breaks no state or federal environmental laws, but that is part of the problem, according to Greenpeace. The organization is pushing for legislation to require chemical plants across the country to adhere to stricter regulations and use safer manufacturing processes, Deans said. Don Nicolai, Kuehne's president and CEO, said yesterday his company has been at the forefront of safe practices in its field, noting that Kuehne is in the preliminary stages of constructing a chlorine brine facility 'intended to reduce the amount of chlorine that's brought in on rail cars.'" (New Jersey On-line; 23Jun10; Patrick Villanova) http://www.nj.com/news/jjournal/kearny/index.ssf?/base/news-0/127727522220930.xml

Incinerator passes 75 percent mark [Anniston, AL]
"Anniston's role as storage unit for chemical weapons is almost over. More than 1,000 mustard agent-filled munitions were destroyed at the Anniston Army Depot incinerator Wednesday, marking an unheralded but critical milestone as 75 percent of the chemical weapons stockpile is now destroyed. Army spokesman Mike Abrams said it was quiet among the Anniston Chemical Agent Disposal facility employees as they worked to incinerate mustard that would mean the eradication of more than three fourths of the stockpile. 'There was not a dramatic sigh of relief or sense of accomplishment; it was just another day at the incinerator,' he said. 'But at the end of the day we just realized 'holy smokes!' we just went over 75 percent.' Abrams said that with this disposal foothold secured, he 'fully expects' the incinerator to reach the next step -- complete stockpile destruction -- by the federal government's April 2012 deadline." (Anniston Star; 22Jun10; Cameron Steele) http://annistonstar.com/view/full_story/8008897/article-Incinerator-passes-75-percent-mark?instance=top_center_featured

Czechs to help establish chemical warfare unit in Texas
"Soldiers from the Czech military 31st brigade of radiation, chemical and biological protection might help their U.S. counterparts establish a similar unit in Texas, General Jose Mayorga, Texas National Guard chief commander on a visit to Prague, told CTK [Czech News Agency] Tuesday. Since the Texas guard is considering establishing a similar unit, Mayorga said he would like to see how the Czech unit, seated in Liberec, north Bohemia, is organised and how it prepares for emergency situations, and also its way of reacting to them. The Czech chemical warfare unit is world-renowned. This April it protected the U.S.-Russian summit in Prague. Previously it ensured the security of the Olympic Games in Athens and was deployed in the Gulf War and other conflicts. Mayorga arrived in Prague at the invitation of Czech chief-of-staff Vlastimil Picek late on Monday. He and Picek are to meet on Wednesday to discuss further cooperation between the Czech military and the Texas Guard. Mayorga said Picek is to come to Austin, the capital of Texas, in July." (Prague Daily Monitor; 23Jun10) http://www.praguemonitor.com/2010/06/23/czechs-help-establish-chemical-warfare-unit-texas

Bhopal is also about [chemical] security
"The Indian media is abuzz with news on Bhopal gas tragedy. The debate is mainly concentrated on fixing the blame for allowing the perpetrator of the crime to leave the country. However, this 'opportunity' provided by the lack of justice in Bhopal gas tragedy and the nationwide debate thereon should not be wasted in only scoring political brownie points. While it is important to know the truth behind the escape of the then Union Carbide chief, it is also important to widen the scope of debate to check whether in the 21st century the nature of threat has changed and if so who are the new actors? Spilling of gas from a chemical factory can happen because of multiple reasons: from accidental release to sabotage. In this era of terrorism such threats need to be reviewed on a much broader canvas. Industrial disasters could be made to happen intentionally. Also, poisonous gases could be spread intentionally to damage crops or kill animals. For this terrorists could use certain type of chemical weapons to create mayhem. In the past they have done this in some parts of the world and there is a no guarantee that they may not do it again. [...] India, a victim of terrorism and internal unrest, hence needs to factor in issues like Chemical Terrorism in its security discourse. The Indian administration and Indian armed forces are aware of these threats and have done some initial work towards addressing them. Last year Defence Minister A. K. Antony had stated while releasing the national guidelines compiled by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) on the management of chemical terrorism disaster that the terrorists are using more aggressive means to spread terror and can resort to chemical weapons in future. However, all current Indian efforts are more 'reactive' in nature - if any untoward incidence happens we know how to address it. Even for this we lack the basic infrastructure to undertake disaster management particularly in terms of medical facilities. The issue is, what have we learned from Bhopal?" (Eurasia Review; 21Jun10; Ajey Lele) http://www.eurasiareview.com/201006213637/bhopal-is-also-about-security.html

Tbilisi grants early release to weapons-grade uranium smuggler
"Georgia is granting an early release to a Russian citizen serving a seven-year prison sentence for his part in an attempt to sell highly enriched uranium to undercover Georgian agents, a senior Interior Ministry official in Tbilisi told EurasiaNet.org. Oleg Khintsagov, a resident of North Ossetia, was arrested in 2006 after attempting to sell 100 grams of highly enriched uranium (HEU) to a Georgian Interior Ministry officer posing as a representative of a terrorist organization. Khintsagov received a five-year prison term for trying to bring HEU into Georgia, and a two-year sentence for smuggling. [...] The government has not addressed publicly any potential security risks associated with Khintsagov's early release. Utiashvili, though, described his release as worrisome. 'This obviously causes us concern,' Utiashvili said. The ministry can do nothing to stop Khintsagov's release, he added. 'He was arrested and charged. After serving his sentence, he is free,' Utiashvili said. [...] Georgian officials say police have foiled eight other attempts to transport weapons-grade enriched uranium via Georgia over the past 10 years. The most recent intercept came in March 2010. Matthew Bunn, a specialist on nuclear theft and terrorism at Harvard University, called Khintsagov's early release not uncommon, but nonetheless troubling. 'One of the key things to stop nuclear smuggling is to try and deter people from getting into nuclear smuggling. ... Anything that decreases the consequences is a concern,' Bunn said." (EurasiaNet; 22Jun10; Molly Corso)

Home front to develop new nonconventional missile siren
"In face of a potential war that could involve chemical and biological attacks against Israel, the IDF [Israeli Defense Force] Home Front Command is planning to develop a special siren for non-conventional missiles, The Jerusalem Post has learned. The possibility of using two different sirens during a future conflict - one for conventional missiles and the other for missiles carrying non-conventional warheads - came up during the nationwide civil defense exercise that was held last month called Turning Point 4. Since the Second Lebanon War in 2006, the IDF Home Front Command has invested in improving Israeli warning systems and has doubled, the number of sirens stationed throughout the country to a whopping 3,100. The command is currently working on installing sirens in military bases as well." (Jerusalem Post; 21Jun10; Yaakov Katz)

NNSA [National Nuclear Security Administration] signs memorandum with Kuwait to increase cooperation on nuclear safeguards and nonproliferation
"The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today announced that it has signed a Memorandum of Cooperation on nuclear safeguards and other nonproliferation topics with the Kuwait National Nuclear Energy Committee (KNNEC). NNSA Administrator Thomas D'Agostino and KNNEC's Secretary General, Dr. Ahmad Bishara, signed the memorandum at a ceremony at U.S. Department of Energy headquarters in Washington. 'This agreement is an important step toward advancing strong bilateral cooperation between the United States and Kuwait on nuclear nonproliferation, safeguards and security,' said Administrator D'Agostino. This Memorandum of Cooperation is part of NNSA's International Nuclear Safeguards and Engagement Program (INSEP). [...] The memorandum with Kuwait specifically proposes cooperation in nuclear legislation and regulations; human resource planning and modeling; nuclear safeguards and security; radiation protection; environmental, safety and health issues; low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste management; and reactor operations, safety, and best practices." (National Nuclear Security Administration; 23Jun10) http://nnsa.energy.gov/mediaroom/pressreleases/kuwait062310

House panel approves weapons of mass destruction bill [WMD Prevention and Preparedness Act of 2010]
"The U.S. House Homeland Security Committee yesterday overwhelmingly approved legislation intended to bolster security measures at the country's biological research laboratories and strengthen federal prevention and response efforts for a potential WMD attack. Less than two weeks after being introduced by Representative Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) and the panel's ranking member Peter King (R-N.Y.), the committee voted 26-0 in favor of the WMD Prevention and Preparedness Act of 2010. Not all members of the committee were present. [...] The 95-page bill would require the homeland security secretary to hold a 'negotiated rulemaking committee' with other government agencies to develop enhanced regulations for biological research facilities and personnel. That body would in turn create a tier of disease materials deemed to be the most serious threats to the United States, labeling them 'Tier 1 Material Threat Agents.' The Agriculture and Health and Human Services departments would then conduct inspections of those laboratories to enforce the rules written by the negotiating committee and retain their current oversight roles. Agriculture and HHS officials also would be assigned to establish training programs for employees at those sites." (Global Security Newswire; 24Jun10; Martin Matishak) http://gsn.nti.org/gsn/nw_20100624_5600.php

Force protection, anti-terror[ism] demo[nstration] set
"Live presentations and demonstrations of advanced security equipment and technologies will be shown next May near Washington, it was announced Tuesday. More than 600 exhibitors are expected to participate in the event and nearly 3,500 technologically advanced off-the-shelf products from 20 categories of equipment and systems will be presented, organizers said. The United States' federally produced Force Protection Equipment Demonstration is sponsored by the Department of Defense's Physical Security Action Group, the Department of Energy and the Technical Working Group. The event, which occurs every two years, was initiated by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff following the bombing at Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996. Organizers said all demonstrated items must be available for procurement and testing within 90 days of the event, slated for May 17-19 in Stafford, Va. Products to [be] demonstrated include those for reducing the vulnerability of personnel and infrastructure equipment from a variety [o]f threats, including bombs and attacks using nuclear materials or biological and chemical agents." (United Press International; 23Jun10) http://www.upi.com/Business_News/Security-Industry/2010/06/23/Force-protection-anti-terror-demo-set/UPI-58411277299910/

Sampling for contaminants at Lew[iston]-Port[er] to begin soon [NY]
"Sampling is expected to begin as soon as late July for radiological and chemical contamination on areas of the campus of the Lewiston-Porter schools, representatives of a federal agency said tonight. Soil tests will be conducted for chemicals and radiological materials at 16 locations behind the Creek Road campus, Army Corps of Engineers officials said during a public information session in the Lewiston Senior Center. A report with test results should be completed in November, said Mick Senus, a project manager with the Corps' Buffalo District. [...] Samples will be analyzed for a variety of chemicals, including metals, explosives and PCBs, as well as radiological contamination. The Army Corps has previously done sampling on the Lew-Port campus, which sits on the former Lake Ontario Ordance Works site, which was used in weapons production and waste storage during and after World War II. The former ordnance works site, which encompassed 7,500 acres of land in both Lewiston and Porter, includes a 191-acre area known as the Niagara Falls Storage Site which contains a 10-acre storage cell for radioactive waste from the Manhattan Project." (Buffalo News; 23Jun10; Aaron Besecker) http://www.buffalonews.com/2010/06/23/1092355/sampling-for-contaminants-at-lew.html

Governor Quinn announces $10 million capital grant for Rush University Medical Center [IL]
"Governor Pat Quinn today announced a $10 million capital grant to help construct a new, state-of-the-art emergency and disaster preparedness center at Rush University Medical Center. The McCormick Center for Advanced Emergency Response, the first of its kind in the United States, will more than double the size of the hospital's emergency department and is designed to better care for the victims of major catastrophes. [...] Rush's McCormick Center for Advanced Emergency Response will occupy the first floor of a new 14-floor hospital building currently under construction. The center will house 56 patient treatment bays and an advanced disaster response center. On a day-to-day basis, it will operate as an emergency facility. However, in the event of a disaster, special design and technology advancements will be utilized to better respond to biological, chemical and other catastrophes. [...] The new facility will include a specialized airflow system that can isolate areas of the facility from the effects of chemical or biological agents. Additionally, every room will have a cardiac monitor and each of three patient treatment pods will have its own ultrasound unit and available bedside point-of-care blood testing. Radiology will be located within the emergency department to reduce wait times for diagnostic imaging." (Illinois Government News Network; 22Jun10)

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

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