CBRNe News November 2007
Gwyn Winfield examines the latest news in the world of CBRNE
Love and marriage
Dycor Technologies announced that they have sold a minority share in their business to Midwest Research Institute (MRI). With the exception of Hank Mottl, who sold his shares to MRI, the same personnel and technology will be maintained, but now with potential synergies from MRIs research into CBRN technology. The hope is that the research programs in Dycor and MRI might cross-pollinate, but even failing that it will allows a wider range of products to be offered to customers.
With Remembrance/Veteran’s/Armistice Day just behind us it seems an opportune time to draw attention to the work of one British charity – Help for Heroes. This appeal is hoping to raise £5 million for a gym and swimming complex for injured servicemen and women in Headley Court. The appeal is supported by the UK MoD and also The Sun newspaper and donations (either individual or corporate) can be made at http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/article388570.ece.
Nationwide National Defender roll out
Ahura Scientific announced a nationwide roll out of their First Defender, raman spectrometer, to all the US’s National Guard WMD Civil Support Teams (CSTs). The $2.6 million order was placed after expensive evaluation focusing on identification capability and ruggedness. 64 units will be purchased with 55 going to individual CSTs and the balance going to Fort Leonard Wood for training purposes.
Visitors to Winnenden
Kaercher Futuretech had a busy October/November with two key visits. First was the skin decontamination product RSDL (see CBRNe World Autumn 2007 for more information) produced by Canadian company E-Z-EM. Kaercher is now the exclusive distributor of RSDL in Germany - which will, no doubt, delight their German decontamination rival, OWR, who also manufacture Alldecont, a competitor to RSDL. Keeping the red carpet rolled out Kaercher also welcomed the President of Mozambique, Armando Emilio Guebuza, who accompanied by five ministers toured the facility.
Researchers from Ohio University announced in the Journal of American Chemical Society that they had developed magnetic glycol-nanoparticles (MGNP) to detect and eliminate bio agents in the body. While still at the lab study phase they found that the nanoparticles could detect e-coli within five minutes and removed 88% of the target bacteria.
Battelle hit the money
Battelle Memorial Institute announced that it had won the $257 million, 10 year contract to run the National Institute of Health and Fort Detrick. This is the second management contract that Battelle has at Detrick, joining the DHS Lab contract that they won in December. The new NIH lab will open in 2008, and employ 119 scientists and technicians to run the High Containment Integrated Research Facility.
Teledyne Brown win Joint Material Decontamination System
Teledyne Brown, teamed with Bioquell, were awarded a $14.7 million contract to design, develop, integrate and manufacture the JMDS. JMDS is a sensitive decon project to remove ‘NBC’ contamination from areas where harsh decontamination chemicals might destroy the items. Once there has been a successful demonstration of performance Teledyne Brown will enter into LRIP (low rate initial production) with Bioquell.
I went to the doctor as I had a Radeye
Thermo Fisher Scientific announced two extensions to their range of pocket radiation devices, the Radeye B20 and Radeye N. Both combine neutron radiation, contamination, and dose rate measurement in a lightweight package without any of the cables that might require both hands. The devices are designed to be used as a stand alone or with their ViewPoint network product. The Radeye B20 is a contamination meter, while the Radeye N is a radiation detection pager.
Democratic Republic of the Congo tourism board takes further beating
Just to prove that it is not just China that has a shocking record when it comes to large scale dumping of toxic materials into the river, DRC has arrested six people in the Congo after a range of radioactive and chemical materials were dumped in the Mura river. The authorities had ordered nearly 20 metric tonnes of waste that had been used in a Uranium nine to be safely disposed of, to some of the contractors (who are among those arrested) this meant dumping it in the river.
Authorities also seized 19 tons of copper and cobalt ore which contained traces of uranium – which DRC is banned from exporting. The area where the waste was dumped is 50 times the legal limit, while downstream the river is used for drinking and bathing.
I’m sure I put it down right there…
Balkan InSight announced that 1,000kgs of radioactive material disappeared from a hospital in Banja Luka (Bosnia) one afternoon in November. While the hospital has no idea what could have happened to the material Bosnian officials are sure that it could not have been stolen with the intention of creating a dirty bomb as “we have firm control over that aspect of the country’s security.” CBRNe World wished it could share their optimism.
First ricin, now chlorine
Following on from pipe bombs filled with ricin, high velocity rounds fired at chlorine tankers we now have two teenagers that threw “poison gas” into a birthday party and a homecoming dance. Two Californians teenagers have pleaded guilty to throwing bombs containing chlorine, which they learned how to do by watching You Tube, into the gathering and injuring three people. Clearly a case of ‘monkey see, monkey do’ it raises the horrible thought of what happens after a proper C attack and all the copycats get involved. Who needs terrorists when you have teenagers determined to kill each other in new and imaginative ways.
Who’s going to tell him the bad news?
A Libyan walked into an Accident and Emergency unit in a hospital in Manchester, in the UK, and asked for an ‘antidote for mustard gas.’ He needed it for a friend who had been affected by the gas - quite how that happens, unless he was trying to make it is unclear! Unsurprisingly UK police are treating this as suspicious and released warnings over the fact that a terror cell might have set up a chemical bomb factory.
The Daily Telegraph announced that the UK’s Counter Terrorism Police had been aware of al-Qaeda’s ability to make ricin, but had no evidence that they had managed to make mustard gas. As always, it is not making it, but disseminating it in a useful way – as our Libyan ‘friend’ would only be too happy to agree with - that is the trick.
Paul Walker, a representative of Green Cross – an independent environmental analysis organisation that closely monitors demil issues – announced at a Moscow Public Forum that Russia was not disposing of its chemical weapons, instead it was merely neutralising them. Green Cross has been previously critical of Russian demil efforts (and with Gorbachov as it’s founder it can’t be swept away as a tool of the US) and concerns over the fulfilment of the second phase of the disposal program should be taken seriously. With the US struggling to hit deadlines it is no surprise that Russia is encountering ‘work arounds.’
Let’s see, phone, car keys, lunch, small explosive device… check
The US’ largest nuclear power plant went into lockdown when a contractor arrived at work with a ‘small explosive device’ in the back of his pickup. Authorities said that it didn’t appear to be an act of terrorism (been hunting with hand grenades?) and put the Palo Verde plant at the lowest form of emergency lockdown – an ‘unusual’ event.
Despite official denials that LTTE (or Tamil Tigers) are attempting to create chemical weapons, Sri Lankan Police reported that they stopped a dump truck containing 3,600l of sulphuric acid as it tried to bribe its way through. While there may be some doubt over the intended use of the acid it is clearly a propaganda win for the Sri Lankan government in trying to turn world opinion against the Tigers.
In a similar vein the Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) claimed that Turkish troops had used chemical weapons against PKK units in southeastern Anatolia. DTP verified their claim by suggesting that local animals sickened and died after an attack and that the bodies of the dead men had not been released to their families. While forces lacking conventional muscle might need CWA, this is not something that can be levelled at the Turks (with the second largest land army in Nato).Not only would it be a breach of their obligations under the CWC, but would see them kicked out of Nato and kill any degree of membership of the EU. Lacking any benefit, and many negatives, it is far more likely that there is a conventional reason behind the DTPs fears.
Despite being a signatory to the CWC, and a rapidly growing CBRN defence capability, a faux pas by the Corp of Engineers, may now require a little explanation. Their vision statement declared that they priority was ‘to refine competence, to handle nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.’ The Army Chief Deepak Kapoor announced that their chemical weapons still existed, but that they had until the end of the year to destroy their stockpile. Admittedly a vision statement, something that by definition looks further out than a couple of months, might not have been the place to put something so short term, but since the Indian military did not have an offensive doctrine (the stockpile being in the hands of the scientific community) it is more likely to have been a slip of the pen rather than a stated aim.