Backpack IED Jammers, Environmental Surface Sampling, Radiation Myths Debunked

CBRNE Particles News Scan Top StoriesTopics in this issue include backpack IED jammers, Fukushima 5-year anniversary, chemical weapons drill in the ROK, and development of chemical threat medical countermeasures.

Explosive Threats, EOD & C-IED

Navy Strikes Deal for Backpack Anti-IED Jammers

The military is continuing to invest in giving troops portable electronic warfare capabilities, including the ability to protect ground forces from improvised explosive devices. The Naval Surface Warfare Center at Indian Head, Md., recently announced a $29.4 million contract modification for back-packable anti-IED electronic jammers to help bomb disposal crews block signals that could be used to explode a bomb or other device. Defense Systems >>

Berlin Explosion: Man Killed in Suspected Car Bomb

An explosion that destroyed a car and killed the driver in Berlin during rush-hour traffic was probably caused by a bomb, police have said. The explosion occurred on Tuesday on a busy street in the western district of Charlottenburg leading into the heart of the German capital. Hours after the blast police were concentrating on the possibility that the explosion might be linked to organised crime, said Kerstin Ziesmer, a police spokeswoman. The Guardian >>

The Pentagon Wants to Buy That Bomb You’re Building in the Garage

DARPA will pay tinkerers to weaponize off-the-shelf items — in hopes of defending against such hacks. Can you rig your toaster into an improvised explosive device or turn a cheap hobby drone into a weapon of mass destruction? The Pentagon would love to hear from you. Defense One >>

Bombing in Ankara: Who is Fighting Who in Turkey?

Hours after Ankara was rocked by the second bomb attack in less than three weeks, killing at least 37 people and injuring 70 others, Turkish jets bombed PKK bases in the Qandil mountains deep inside the Kurdish region of Iraq. Turkish security officials told reporters that two suspects in the bombing had ties to the Kurdistan Workers party (PKK) – although it is not yet clear whether one of the attackers whose body is said to have been found at the scene is either of these people. The Conversation >>

Nuclear Safety & Radioactive Waste

Time to Look Again at Radiation Safety

Five years after the nuclear accident at Fukushima Daiichi, the scientific community is ready to assess what the real health consequences have been and put them into perspective with other risks in our lives, Gerry Thomas says. World Nuclear News >>

Japan Marks Fifth Anniversary of Tsunami and Nuclear Disaster

Japan’s emperor has led tributes to the 19,000 people who died five years ago when a powerful earthquake and tsunami struck the country’s north-east coast and triggered a triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The Guardian >>

Five Years After Fukushima, There Are Big Lessons for Nuclear Disaster Liability

Five years on, the nation continues to struggle with the effects. Towns up to 40km from the plant remain a dead-zone: desolate and uninhabited. As many as 100,000 people still remain displaced, unable to return to their homes. Workers at the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) still don claustrophobic masks and rubber suits to venture into the Fukushima facility. Their job is to decommission the plant safely, a task that plant manager Akira Ono recently said was “about 10% complete”. The Conversation >>

Kentucky Begins Crackdown on Radioactive Waste

Kentucky officials have begun to crack down after discovering low-level nuclear waste at a landfill, ordering the company accused of hauling the waste to stop or face fines and potential criminal charges. The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet on Tuesday sent violation notices to two landfill operators in Greenup and Estill counties, accusing them of inaccurately characterizing the waste, The Courier-Journal reported. >>

An Exclusive Look at the World’s Largest-Ever Nuclear Cleanup

Five years ago, an epic tsunami off the coast of Japan triggered a triple-reactor nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Ever since then, 7,000 workers have been laboring round-the-clock on a massive, and unprecedented, cleanup effort. Science correspondent Miles O’Brien takes an exclusive look at ground zero of the greatest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. PBS >>

The Indian Point Nuclear Plant: Scourge or Savior?

Paul Gallay and Michael Shank make a strong case for the immediate retirement of the Indian Point nuclear power plant. In addition to the recent major malfunctions the plant has suffered, the continuing ecological effects the plant’s antiquated cooling water intake system has on the Hudson River estuary and the high radiation levels observed in groundwater testing, the aging facility poses a threat to the regional food shed. New York Times >>

Here’s What Fukushima Looks Like, Five Years On

The Fukushima disaster was the largest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in Ukraine. It was the consequence of a 9.0 earthquake (the most powerful ever recorded in Japan) and a devastating tsunami, which killed almost 16,000 people. Now, five years on, Getty photographer Christopher Furlong has taken a tour inside the Fukushima Daiichi power plant that is being decommissioned after the meltdown. He photographed the trained professionals that are working to decontaminate the area. IFL Science >>

Radioactive Strontium, Cesium from Fukushima Continue to Leak to the Ocean

Seawater collected from the sea surface down to 500 m between 1 and 110 km off the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP)  showed concentrations up to 9, 124 and 54 Bq·m−3 for 90Sr, 137Cs and 134Cs, respectively. The highest concentrations, found within six km off the FDNPP, were approximately 9, 100, and 50 times higher, respectively, than pre-Fukushima levels. HSNW >>

Chemical & Biological Threats

Identifying and Optimizing Chemical Threat Countermeasures

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Countermeasures Against Chemical Threats (CounterACT) program has released two new funding opportunities to support identification and optimization of therapeutics to treat exposures to chemical warfare agents and toxic industrial chemicals. Global Biodefense >>

Chemical-Weapons Drill Has One Perpetrator in Mind: North Korea

Inside a dark chemistry lab in a derelict old building, Pvt. Shane Diaz gingerly drew 13 milli­liters of an unknown brown liquid from a glass flask up into a syringe. Breathing through a gas mask that made him sound like Darth Vader, he was careful not to spill a drop as he put it into a sample jar. Who knew what chemical weapons the North Koreans had been making here? Washington Post >>

One-Handed Environmental Surface Sampling Device

The device has been specifically designed to act as both the sampler as well as the transport packaging, speeding up sampling times and reducing waste. The one-handed operation of the device will simplify sampling while wearing mission oriented protective posture (MOPP) gear in a hazardous environment. Global Biodefense >>

Nuclear Security

Detecting Radioactive Material from a Remote Distance

Cobalt-60 and many other radioactive elements emit highly energetic gamma rays when they decay. The gamma rays strip electrons from the molecules in the surrounding air, and the resulting free electrons lose energy and readily attach to oxygen molecules to create elevated levels of negatively charged oxygen ions around the radioactive materials. Science Newsline >>

A Novel Method for Tracer Concentration Plutonium(V) Solution Preparation

Preparation of relatively pure low concentration Pu(V) solutions for environmental studies is non-trivial due to the complex redox chemistry of Pu. Ozone gas generated by an inexpensive unit designed for household-use was used to oxidize a 2×10¬¬ 8 M Pu(IV) solution to predominantly Pu(VI) with some Pu(V) present. Analytical Chemistry >>

From Radioactive Sweat to Airport Scanners – Top Myths Debunked by Expert

Our society has a difficult relationship with radiation. Although a life-saver, through cancer treatment and X-rays, it also holds deadly potential. This week marks the fifth anniversary of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Reactor Power Plant, where a tsunami triggered a nuclear meltdown in a power plant on the coast of Japan. Imperial College London >>

Facility Incidents

Blast Was a Close Call for N.Y. Plant Worker

An employee was lucky not to be injured or killed after a compressor malfunction caused an explosion at a plant in the town of Oneonta, the city fire chief said Monday. The cause was a mechanical failure in a large air compressor, Pidgeon said, and the malfunction caused a fire, which led to an explosion and more fire. An employee went to check and saw smoke coming from a mechanical room housing the air compressor, Pidgeon said. The employee closed the door to the room, which Pidgeon said was a commendable fire-safety measure. But as the employee was leaving, an explosion occurred and the doors were blown open, the chief said. Firehouse >>

Hazmat Team Responds to Auburn Orthopedic Facility

Valley Regional Fire Authority firefighters responded to a report of explosive sounds and an unknown gas venting from the Cascade Orthopedic Center early Saturday morning, but a hazmat team found conditions to be safe. The gas was determined to be nitrogen, used for cooling a medical imaging machine. Auburn Reporter >>

Nuclear Weapons

Why Young People Think Nuclear Weapons Are History

My generation grew up believing that the problem of nuclear weapons had been solved. The United States’ main nuclear opponent, the Soviet Union, is no more. Our president has agreed to reduce the nuclear arsenal, and we no longer practice hiding under our desks in case the bombs drop. We have no context for the kinds of danger that these weapons present. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists >>

More Russian Nuclear Saber-Rattling?

Reuters and the newspaper L’Obs reported last week that the French navy in January detected a Russian ballistic missile submarine off the French Atlantic coast in the Bay of Biscay. There was no military reason for that submarine to be there. Was this Moscow’s latest attempt at nuclear intimidation? Brookings >>

Who Dropped the Bomb?

Discreet Oculus, a sensor array that would collect data during a nuclear attack on a U.S. city, was tested in the first exercise of its kind last summer. Many experts believe that a nuclear attack on U.S. soil is more likely than ever; a bomb set off in a city street is seen as the most likely scenario. The conceivable need to unmask a perpetrator, and mount an effective response, is propelling the emerging area of postdetonation forensics. Scientists are devising new sensors, manufacturing artificial fallout to hone analytical techniques, and studying how the glass formed in the furnace of an atomic blast would vary depending on the nature of the bomb and the city where it detonated. Science >>

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