CBRNe News May 2007
Gwyn Winfield examines the latest news in the world of CBRNE
Busy season ahead
As you read this, the CBRNe World team will be enjoying the climate somewhere far from home. The summer season this year seems to be very crowded with events, and CBRNe World will be at eight events, from as far afield as Turkey and Germany. The editor will be giving a paper at the Nato CBRN Training Working Group conference in Hungary in May, and will also be involved in producing a show newspaper for CBW Gothenburg – busy times. When this is added to travel to exercises such as Brave Beduin throughout the year, the team is getting worried about the size of the forest needed to offset the carbon footprint – the editor has always had large feet.
Vital point covered
Just after we went to print with the Spring edition, the Canadian government announced the winner of the Vital Point Bio Sentry System was General Dynamics. In what had been a hard fought competition, GD edged out rivals Dycor for the $26.3 million contract. Michael Fortier, Minister of Public Works, commented that this was another example of how Canada was able to “procure critical operational equipment as quickly as possible for the Canadian Forces in an open, fair and transparent manner.” VP Bio will have an initial delivery in 2008 with full operational capability (FOC) in 2010, and will consist of six full and 23 partial systems (partial systems have only one detector and are more for naval platforms and training purposes).
Despite being delighted with the Gore/Lion apparel ensemble for the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service ‘They get my vote!’ – as seen in Spring News page – Northern Ireland finally decided to choose Remploy Frontline and their CR1. The CR1, which is in service with the UK Police service nationally, is seen as a major step by the NI Fire Service away from the gas tight ‘one size fits all’ approach to hazmat. Northern Ireland Fire Service has a good reputation among the UK fire services, so it will be interesting to see whether this decision has any impact on the rest of the country.
Hazard Management Solutions (HMS) has been awarded two counter-IED contracts. One is from Nato to provide subject matter experts and is worth $0.5 million dollars; the other is a larger contract extension from the US DoD, worth $10.1 million, for UK based training courses for DoD students. Counter-IED is a massive field, with a great demand but little authenticated supply; much as CBRN/NBC hit a boom post 9/11, CIED is now feeling the same boom times.
HMS also commissioned a market research study into the potential for counter-terrorism consultancy in the corporate sector. As many of them know to their bitter cost, the corporate market is largely indolent when it comes to a threat that they see as largely nebulous and not directed at them. Most felt that their responsibility ended after they took on a security advisor.
Many of the responders had little faith in the knowledge and expertise of security firms and admitted they would only pay a little pre-incident, but far more for support during a crisis. Part of this can be seen as a knee jerk reaction to some mountebanks who went straight into the market with little knowledge and spoiled it for the rest, but the rest of the response has to be seen as a ‘can’t happen here/head in the sand’ an attitude that Pool Re insurers are unlikely to be surprised about.
Eye Marker Systems has entered into a partnership with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to allow rapid assessment of residents that could have been near an OP or other toxin through their Ocular Scanning Instrument. The assessment will allow operational performance and validation of the OSI. More information on Eye Market can be found in the CWA feature.
More mass spec
Lawrence Livermore National Labs (LLNL) has developed a new mass spectrometry technique called Single Particle Aerosol Mass Spec. This has built on their Bioaerosol Mass Spec and allows them to do individual particle analysis and can detect CBE agents. Despite fears that this could be a lengthy and technically difficult process, LLNL have commented that it makes the process faster and more applicable to daily life.
If you haven’t got your shares yet, it’s too late
Bavarian Nordic has received notification from the US Dept of Health and Human Services of their intent to procure 20 million doses of their smallpox vaccine Imvamune. This is the first contract to come out of the Bioshield programme to create national stockpiles. Bavarian Nordic is now looking for European countries to start moving along the same lines.
Does my crown look big in this?
Romar Workwear were recently able to announce that as well as providing pre and post-decon clothes for the general public they would also be providing Tony Blair and HM the Queen with a kit. The kit consists of boots, P3 mask, cape, shoes and gloves. A Romar spokesman confirmed the Queen would receive the same standard kit as members of the public and that hers too would be orange. Despite urging, he declined to go into comment on the nature of the Queens new underclothes.
The last edition of Gothenburg showcase erroneously called Argon Electronic’s NASCAP system a way of augmenting training detector systems. NASCAP is attached to standard detectors, such as ACADA or the Raid X to augment their use. We apologise for any confusion.
Slow news day
Post Christmas clearly saw a hiatus in any news with the BBC suddenly ‘breaking’ the story that the Police were going to train extra officers to deal with the ‘dirty bomb’ [sic] threat. The fact that this story was reported by the Editor the previous October cut no ice with the UK national media who, in the absence of anything else, fed off it for two days.
Start booking your holiday
Offshore bankers and holiday-makers danced for joy when the island nation of Barbados became the latest to join the Chemical Weapons Convention. This only leaves two abstainers in the Caribbean: the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas. Hopefully this means future CWC meeting can be held there.
More importantly, Kazakhstan ratified the BWC, and sees this as a constructive step towards non-proliferation and rehabilitation within the international community.
The Tokyo high court ruled against a group of Chinese plaintiffs who were seeking $682,000 damages for injuries caused by chemical munitions left during WWII. The Court did acknowledge that the weapons were illegally abandoned on Chinese soil, but that it would have been impossible for Japan to remove them all exactly for that reason (they were on Chinese soil). Japan’s WWII legacy of both chemical and biological weapons has never been fully dealt with and remains a major ‘elephant in the room’.
Mind the gas
The UK government recently did a series of tests on the London Underground to look at the dispersal patterns. Sulphur hexafluoride was released over two Sundays to allow the air flow to be studied. This is part of a larger scheme to tighten up British transport with passenger screening technology and portable vehicle access points also being studied. This isn’t the first time that the Underground has been studied, and it will be interesting to see the difference between these tests and earlier ones which showed the agent went just about everywhere.
Ali Hassan al-Majid, also known as Chemical Ali, currently under trial in Iraq has the death penalty looming over his head. Ali has crimes of genocide to answer for, including the destruction of whole villages. The Chief Prosecutor asked the court to show no mercy as Ali “did not have mercy on elderly people or women or children – not even animals or plants or the environment”.
And the IAEA have scorrrredddd…
The IAEA is co-operating with the South African government to help provide protection against radiological threats at the 2010 Soccer World Cup. The IAEA will help provide security plans to cover a wide range of scenarios. South Africa, which has about five new stadiums to build and rampant crime, has a great deal of infrastructure to work on, let alone the higher end threats.
Never a lost ball
The whole Dounreay embroglio continues with beaches being swept (again) amid public disquiet about radiation levels. Not only are you likely to get an all over tan on the beach – brown one side, glowing green the other – but the greens and tees of a local gold course are also to be swept. The scare continues, but as results from all the other sweeps have been negligible, odds are on the same for this one too.
Hart to Hart
As suggested in the last edition of CBRNe World (This… is London) the UK have rolled out their Hazardous Area Response Team project in London (HART) – these are units that will provide support in major incidents, including CBRN. These crews will now have a level of PPE high enough to enter the hot zone and assist Fire teams in the triage of bodies and provide early treatment. HART will range across London in three specialist vehicles, C2, recce and light equipment vehicle and an equipment-only vehicle. There will also be two rapid response cars which will be shared between HART and regular ambulance teams.