War on Terrorism

Friday, August 20, 2010

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News, August 20, 2010

Rockaway borough police test bio-terror response [Rockaway, NJ]
"Borough officials learned how long it would take them to distribute vaccines to residents in the event of a bioterrorism attack or health crisis by conducting drill using residents of the Laurel Manor Apartments. 'It worked out very well,' Police Chief Doug Scheer reported to the Borough Council on Thursday, Aug. 12, of the drill conducted last May. 'It gave us an idea of how long it would take us to get vaccines out to people if a crisis hit.' Rockaway was the first municipality in the state to run such a drill and it was conducted in as close to actual real-life emergency conditions as possible and used a variety of resources. [...] the drill was to respond to a smallpox outbreak, a bioterrorism attack. The officers had to travel to a location out of the borough to meet Caputo and pick up fake doses of CIPRO and Dioxin. They had to have doses 'administered' to themselves as first responders. They then had to return to the borough to a designated spot and bag the doses along with a letter. Officers then had to physically go around the complex and distribute the fake vaccines along with an information letter for residents and get responses from residents to verify they had protected the population." (The Citizen: Morris County, NJ; 20Aug10; Audrey Davie) http://www.recordernewspapers.com/articles/2010/08/19/the_

Ordnance reef study pushed back [HI]
"The Army said yesterday that it is delaying a $2.5 million study of grenades, bombs and other ordnance dumped in shallow water off Waianae that was scheduled for October because it first needs to do an environmental assessment. Conducting the assessment for what is known as Ordnance Reef will push back the technology demonstration project until April or May, the Army said. It said it determined an assessment is required under federal law. [...] An Army Corps of Engineers survey in 2002 at Ordnance Reef identified more than 2,000 military munitions at depths ranging from 15 feet to 240 feet, with the majority observed deeper than 60 feet. William Aila Jr., a Waianae Coast activist who works, fishes and scuba-dives in that area, previously said he had seen 4- or 5-inch shells, ammunition pallets, grenades and larger bombs. Hundreds of grenades lie scattered in a 300-by-300-foot area, Aila said. He also said he was told that torpedoes and drums lie on the ocean floor in the area. [...] A 2007 report to Congress said 2,558 tons of chemical agents, including lewisite, mustard, cyanogen chloride and cyanide, were dumped at three sites off Oahu in waters as deep as 6,000 feet. It was not until 1969 that the National Academy of Sciences released recommendations to modify the disposal of chemical weapons. Sea disposal was until then considered the safest and most cost-effective method to discard excess or obsolete weapons, the U.S. government said." (Star-Advertiser; 20Aug10; William Cole) http://www.staradvertiser.com/news/hawaiinews/20100820_Ordnance_Reef_study_pushed_back.html

Obama's science advisors outline plan for faster pandemic vaccine
"In light of vaccine production problems that delayed the delivery of the pandemic H1N1 vaccine, a report by President Barack Obama's science advisers released today said targeted investments in five specific areas could trim the time needed to quickly produce enough to protect the nation by weeks or months. The President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) said if federal officials follow the roadmap, within 1 to 3 years the country will be in a better position to more quickly speed production of a pandemic vaccine as well as medical countermeasures against other diseases or bioterrorism attacks. The five key areas, as well as longer-term goals, are included in an 87-page report that appears on the PCAST Web site." (Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy; 20Aug10; Lisa Schnirring and Robert Roos) http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidrap/content/influenza/panflu/news/aug1910pcast.html

Lansing postal workers practice their bioterrorism attack response [Lansing, MI]
"Postal workers walked out of Lansing's mail processing center and into an inflatable decontamination station wearing protective white coverall suits, yellow boots and green gloves. The employees weren't in any danger - they were completing a bioterrorism attack drill on Wednesday afternoon, practicing their response in case they ever come in contact with anthrax [bacteria]. Anthrax is a disease caused by the spore-forming bacteria Bacillus anthracis. In October 2001, five people, including two Washington, D.C., postal workers, died after being exposed to anthrax [bacteria] sent through the mail as an act of bioterrorism. Since then, the U.S. Postal Service has taken more measures to protect workers, such as the drills. The last such exercise at the Lansing post office and processing center was in 2007, Postal Service spokeswoman Sabrina Todd said. [...] The Lansing police and fire departments and the Ingham County Health Department also took part in the drill at Lansing's main post office, 4800 Collins Road." (Lansing State Journal; 19Aug10; Melissa Domsic) http://www.lansingstatejournal.com/article/20100819/NEWS01/8190332/Lansing-postal-workers-practice-their-bioterrorism-attack-response

Venture fund needed to fight bioterrorism, pandemics, U.S. scientists say
"A venture capital fund should be created by the U.S. government to invest in companies developing ways to defend the nation from flu pandemics and bioterrorist attacks, U.S. health officials said. A report from Health and Human Services officials urged development of a $200 million fund that would invest in new ways to thwart potential public health threats from viruses or biological agents. [...] 'Today, we really don't know where our next public health crisis is going to come from,' said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. 'Our enemies are constantly probing for weakness. Our nation must have a system that is nimble and flexible enough to produce countermeasures quickly.'" (Bloomberg; 19Aug10; Pat Wechsler and Ellen Gibson) http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-08-19/venture-fund-needed-to-fight-bioterrorism-pandemics-u-s-scientists-say.html

Advanced Life Sciences to participate in key infectious disease conference
"'Advanced Life Sciences Holdings, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company engaged in the discovery, development and commercialization of novel drugs in the therapeutic areas of infection, oncology and respiratory diseases, today announced that the Company will participate in the 50th Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.' [...] 'As an exhibitor at this year's conference, Advanced Life Sciences will update and interact with more than 10,000 physicians, researchers and other healthcare professionals from around the globe who will gather at the 50th ICAAC to focus on solutions to the problem of infectious disease. Data on the Company's lead product, Restanza(tm) (cethromycin), its novel once-daily oral antibiotic, will be presented showing the drug's efficacy against 30 strains of Burkholderia pseudomallei, a serious, life-threatening bacterial pathogen that is also a potential agent of biological warfare or bioterrorism, and is listed on the Centers for Disease Control list as a Category B bioterrorism agent.'" (PR Newswire; 17Aug10) http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/advanced-life-sc

Genomic test developed to prevent bioterrorism
"With funding from federal agencies, scientists at the Rice University have begun a three-year study, which will result in the creation of a new type of genomic test. The test will be able to inform experts whether a disease outbreak is caused by natural causes, or by bioterrorists. Knowing the difference between the two is essential towards developing accurate and relevant emergency responses, authorities say. Over the past few years, conflicts that the United States had with its enemies no longer took place on the battlefield, face-to-face, but rather under the shadow of anonymity. Terrorism, bioterrorism, and chemical warfare – all forms of asymmetric conflicts – are now the norm, and the US is seeking to defend itself against threats both foreign and domestic. As part of this effort, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) decided to fund the Rice team, in producing this early detection test for biological warfare." (Softpedia; 17Aug10; Tudor Vieru) http://news.softpedia.com/news/Genomic-Test-Developed-to-Prevent-Bioterrorism-152458.shtml

International experts to discuss biological weapons use, preparedness
"Law enforcement and public health experts from around the globe will gather next week in Switzerland to discuss the potential use of biological weapons and how nations can improve their preparedness to respond to intentional or natural disease outbreaks. Specialists from roughly 100 of the Biological Weapons Convention's member states are expected in Geneva for a four-day meeting beginning Monday. The meeting is part of the 'intersessional process' conducted between the convention's review conferences held every five years. This year's discussion is 'perhaps the most lively' in years because 'it combines both the peaceful side -- developing public health capacity, disease surveillance and so on -- with the very hard-edged security side that is responding to actual use of a biological weapon,' Richard Lennane, head of the treaty's Implementation Support Unit, said last week in a telephone interview." (Global Security Newswire; 20Aug10; Martin Matishak) http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20100820_2813.php

Army looking at future of Pueblo Chemical Depot [CO]
"The Army has begun the long process of carving up the Pueblo Chemical Depot, although it still could take years before any 'For Sale' signs appear. Kathryn Cain, the depot's environmental officer, told the Pueblo Depot Activity Development Authority this week that the Army has begun the process of 'excessing' land, trying to see just how much of the base it still needs and how much can be transferred to other owners. That could mean that several thousand acres between the chemical weapons stockpile area and the base headquarters might be subdivided and transferred to new owners. Cain said it's an involved process and the recommendations first will have to be approved by the Army's Chemical Materials Agency, then the Army Materiel Command and then on to higher levels in the Pentagon. It could, however, clear the way for major developments like a solar energy array that currently aren't feasible." (Pueblo Chieftain; 20Aug10; John Norton) http://www.chieftain.com/news/local/article_47a18294-ac1d-11df-893f-001cc4c002e0.html

Providence, R.I., builds on port security with chemical sensors
"Three new chemical sensors were installed at the Port of Providence in Rhode Island on Aug. 16. The sensors will be integrated with the city's existing Port Area Waterside Surveillance System (PAWSS), providing chemical sensor data to the state's common operating picture. The Providence Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) is funding the $593,000 project with a grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. PAWSS is built on Raytheon's Athena information collection and analysis suite, providing access to the cameras, radar, sensors (Smiths Detection Centurion II) and the port's Automatic Identification System in one place. 'You can actually see a ship moving and then click on that ship and see what the name of it is, where it came from, where it's going [and] what it's carrying,' said PEMA Director Peter Gaynor." (Government Technology; 20Aug10; Corey Mckenna)

Overturned tanker carrying hydrochloric acid on turnpike prompts evacuation [Streetsboro, OH]
"A tanker truck carrying hydrochloric acid overturned on the Ohio Turnpike last night, closing a portion of the toll road and evacuating several homes. No illnesses or injuries resulted, according to a Wednesday morning release from the Streetsboro Fire Department. The department was originally alerted for a male unresponsive in a truck at the west bound 187 mile post at 11:19 p.m. Tuesday night. Arriving on scene, emergency crews discovered it was the result of a crash involving a tanker truck that overturned and was leaking a 10 percent hydrochloric acid solution. The Portage County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, along with the Portage County Hazardous Materials Team, were immediately dispatched to the scene. The driver, a 46-year-old male from Ohio City, was able to remove himself from the wreckage and was found outside of the truck. He was quickly assessed by paramedics and moved as safe distance from the scene in an ambulance. He had no obvious injuries but agreed to be transported by Streetsboro EMS to Robinson Memorial Hospital in Ravenna for evaluation." (Gateway News: Portage County, OH; 18Aug10)

Student conducts research that could aid homeland security
"Maryville College student Katherine Nadler is spending the summer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) conducting research that could aid the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in detecting vaporized explosives. Nadler, a rising junior from Greensboro, N.C., who is majoring in chemical physics and mathematics, is completing a 10-week internship in ORNL's Biosciences Division. Funded by the Department of Homeland Security, Nadler's internship allows her to work on a project that uses sensors to detect vaporized explosives. [...] Nadler's team is developing a sensor that can detect dimethyl methylphosphonate (DMMP) molecules. DMMP can be used as a chemical weapon or used to produce the nerve gas sarin, [Dr. Ali] Passian said. If successful, the DMMP sensors can be placed at ports of entry into the United States, including airports and cargo docks. 'Port-of-entry inspection tools will be greatly aided by technologies that can non-invasively and accurately identify hazardous and illegal materials,' Passian said." (Seymour Herald: Seymour, TN; 16Aug10) http://seymourherald.com/news/2010/aug/16/student-conducts-research-that/

Radiation meters and training for policemen
"With 49 days to go for the Commonwealth Games, Delhi Police has procured a radiation meter and is training its personnel to use the meter with the help of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC). Delhi Police officers were given a demonstration on the meter last week. [...] Delhi Police officers said they are procuring one equipment at present but plan to procure more before the Games. 'The security wing of Delhi Police will handle the equipment and the initial plan is to familiarize the personnel with its use. They will be assisted by NDMA and BARC,'' said a senior police officer. The radiation or dose meters will also be used as part of the security drill at all the CWG venues including stadia, Games Village and accommodation for Games officials." (Times of India; 16Aug10; Rahul Tripathi) http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/Radiation-meters-and-training-for-policemen/articleshow/6316563.cms

US conducts antiterrorism drill at MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA]
"US counterterrorism officials held an exercise at MIT yesterday to better prepare local authorities to respond to the potential theft of radioactive material, part of a series of security enhancements federal officials are putting in place at facilities across the region that are considered vulnerable to terrorists seeking weapons of mass destruction. Led by the Department of Energy and the FBI, the exercise involved a fictitious scenario in which terrorists tried to steal cobalt, a highly radioactive substance that is used in hospitals to irradiate blood, but could also be used to make a so-called dirty bomb to spread deadly radiation. The exercise included officials from MIT's police force, the medical community, Cambridge police, Massachusetts State Police, and fire officials. The exercise was not announced publicly. Officials would not say whether they encountered specific problems." (Boston Globe; 20Aug10; Bryan Bender) http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/08/20/us_conducts_anti

Edwards concludes exercise desert wind 10-4 with dirty-bomb drill [Edwards Air Force Base, CA]
"The 95th Air Base Wing [ABW] concluded a week-long emergency disaster drill called Exercise Desert Wind 10-4, Aug. 9 through 13. The exercise picked up where it left off in May of this year from a hypothetical earthquake which wreaked havoc around the Southwestern U.S. ABW personnel participated in recovery efforts with Force Protection Condition exercises, emergency disaster drill evacuations and recovery, simulated hazardous material spills and a dirty-bomb explosion. Military and civilian personnel participated in the exercise that included inter-agency participation through the Defense Support of Civilian Agencies. Participants also practiced receiving Antelope Valley-area evacuees and providing of temporary housing of those evacuees on base. Edwards' Fire Department and 95th Medical Group personnel donned personal protective equipment and simulated the use of specialized monitoring gear to check for chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or explosives contamination levels in the immediate area. In near 100 degree temperatures, the exercise ended with a simulated dirty-bomb detonation. Edwards Federal Fire Department, Department of the Air Force guards and 95th Security Forces Squadron responded to contain, maintain and eliminate the spread of damage from the simulated explosion." (95th Air Base Wing Public Affairs Office; 19Aug10; Stephen K. Robinson and Michael B. Yncera) http://www.edwards.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123218410

Nevada test site hits first-responder milestone [Las Vegas NV]
"Nevada Test Site officials have marked a milestone with the graduation of the 100,000th student from a counter terrorism operations support school open since 2008 northwest of Las Vegas. A statement released Monday said a firefighter and paramedic from Jacksonville, Fla., was honored by program manager Dennis Dugan during a brief ceremony Aug. 9. The course is conducted at the Nevada Test Site and overseen by the National Nuclear Security Administration Nevada Site Office and National Security Technologies LLC. It trains emergency first responders from across the nation how identify and handle threats ranging from a so-called 'dirty bomb' radiological dispersal device to an improvised nuclear weapon." (Las Vegas Sun; 17Aug10; Source: AP) http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2010/aug/17/nevada-test-site-hits-first-responder-milestone/

Editorial - free the medical isotope bill
"A single senator -- Christopher Bond, Republican of Missouri -- is blocking a bill that would ensure a reliable supply of medical isotopes while reducing the risk of nuclear terrorism. [...] The American Medical Isotopes Production Act has two sound objectives. It seeks to create domestic capability for making a radioisotope, molybdenum 99, whose decay products are used tens of thousands of times daily in the United States to diagnose cancer, heart disease and other ailments. There are no reactors in this country that make the isotope, so supplies have to be imported, primarily from aging reactors in Canada and Europe. It also seeks to eliminate the use of weapons-grade uranium in making the isotopes. Foreign manufacturers obtain most of that uranium from the United States, and there is an ever-present danger that it might be diverted or stolen to make nuclear weapons. The bill would address both those problems by subsidizing domestic production of isotopes using only low-enriched uranium and by phasing out American exports of highly enriched uranium to pressure foreign suppliers to convert their reactors to use L.E.U." (New York Times; 15Aug10) http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/16/opinion/16mon3.html

Israel prepares underground shelters against bio-chemical warfare
"The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Home Front Command is mapping out locations in major cities for giant bomb shelters to accommodate civilians in case of chemical or biological military strikes, local media reported Wednesday. 'Israel is preparing to set up additional large underground spaces which will be able to accommodate tens of thousands of people and protect them from unconventional weaponry,' Lt.-Col. Ronny Seri of the Home Front Command told local daily Yediot Aharonot. While Israel's concern over Iran's continued nuclear program is making headlines, the Jewish state is no less alarmed over reports that Tehran is already in possession of unconventional weapons, including chemical and biological agents, which can be mounted on long-range ballistic missiles in a potential strike. [...] Jerusalem will be the first to have its own mass-capacity shelter, which is being fitted out beneath a new train station complex currently at the entrance to the city. The on-construction station is set between a convention center complex, and a large city bus terminal and office building. The shelter's main hall, 80 meters below ground, is expected to hold up to 5,000 people for an extended period. The facility includes an advanced air-filtration system, a medical triage center and communication gear. The underground tunnels of the Jerusalem facility, which will link the city to coastal Tel Aviv some 60 km away, are now under construction." (Xinhua; 19Aug10; Mu Xuequan) http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2010-08/19/c_13451347.htm

Scientists simulate terror[ist] attack on Boston subway [Boston, MA]
"Scientists are releasing gases and fluorescent particles into Boston's subway tunnels on Friday to study how toxic chemicals and lethal biological agents could spread through the nation's oldest subway system in a terrorist attack. It's part of a weeklong study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to figure out ways to quickly minimize the impact of an airborne assault on the nation's 15 subway systems and protect the nation's infrastructure. U.S. subway systems include 810 miles of track in tunnels and accounted for about 3.45 billion trips taken last year, according to the American Public Transportation Association. [...] Federal officials say similar tests were conducted in 2008 in the Washington, D.C., area, serving as an excellent contrast to the Boston study. The Massachusetts subway system, which opened its first tunnels in 1897, is poorly ventilated, while Washington's is relatively modern and well-ventilated, DHS officials said." (Associated Press; 20Aug10; Rodrique Ngowi)

Valley's only hazmat team is going to be disbanded [Los Angeles County, CA]
"The San Fernando Valley's only hazmat response team will be taken out of service next week because of budget cuts in the Los Angeles Fire Department, officials said Thursday. The 14-member team in Granada Hills is currently one of three hazardous-materials response units citywide. Fire officials insist they will still be able to respond to hazmat emergencies in the Valley, but it will just take longer to assemble the specialists that have been reassigned to other firefighting duties. Hazardous material teams respond to a variety of calls, from chemical and gasoline spills to potential terrorist attacks involving biological weapons." (Contra Costa Times; 19Aug10; Rick Orlov) http://www.contracostatimes.com/california/ci_15829750

CIA opens counterproliferation center
"The CIA Wednesday announced the creation of a counterproliferation center, which will lead the agency's efforts to detect and prevent the spread of dangerous weapons and technology. The agency has worked on improving its counterprofileration capabilities since coming to the failed judgment in 2003 that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, a conclusion that soon led to the U.S. invasion of the country. The new center will merge the CIA's counterproliferation division within the National Clandestine Service with parts of the agency's Directorate of Intelligence. While the unit will serve as the main source of CIA intelligence on the spread of weapons of mass destruction, it will exist separate from the National Counterproliferation Center managed by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The national center was created in 2005 through a law Congress passed to implement a recommendation of a national commission formed to study the spread of weapons of mass destruction. [...] The center is expected to take shape over the next several weeks and 'more DI analysts and NCS officers will work side-by-side' there, [CIA Director Leon] Panetta added. It will be led by an 'undercover NCS officer, with deputies for operations and analysis,' the agency said in announcing the center's creation." (Government Executive; 18Aug10; Chris Strohm) http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0810/081810cdpm2.htm

Senator Benjamin L.] Cardin asks for deadline on Area B investigation [Fort Detrick, MD]
"U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin [D-MD] sent a letter to the Department of Defense Monday asking the agency to look into contamination at Fort Detrick and devise a plan by Dec. 1 to remedy the situation. 'This is an important step in getting the facility cleaned up,' said Susan Sullam, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Democrat. 'This is nothing new. This has been in the works for some time. Fort Detrick is on the Superfund list.' Superfund is the federal program to clean up hazardous waste sites. From 1943 through 1969, Fort Detrick was the leading site for biological warfare research. Cardin urged Assistant Army Secretary Katherine Hammack to commit to his Dec. 1 deadline to have the plan ready. 'There was not a deadline and the senator feels there should be a deadline,' Sullam said. 'It's a legally enforceable agreement, and a deadline needs to be in place.' Some residents who live near Fort Detrick fear that Agent Orange and other chemicals are leaching into the ground, contaminating local wells and water supplies. Cardin, who once asked for a deadline for a languishing investigation at Fort Meade, wrote: 'With recent concerns raised about the experimental use of Agent Orange at the Fort decades ago, base command at Fort Detrick has indicated that it intends to conduct additional comprehensive research into historical uses of the facility and the potential for other legacy pollutants. I urge the Army to conduct this work with all deliberate speed.'" (Frederick News Post; 17Aug10; Karen Gardner)

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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