CBRNE Particles – BioWatch, Disaster Preparedness, and Social Media Emergency Alerts

Topics in this issue include the BioWatch program, earthquake technologies, disaster preparedness, social media emergency alerts, and hypersonics.

Apples & Oranges – Understanding Curies & REM in Radiation Sources

One of the challenges in discussing radiological sources and their impacts is in understanding the size and threat from a source or an event. Two different ways of looking at hazards are: (a) in the quantity of material involved; and (b) in the biological impact of that material. Domestic Preparedness >>

Committee Report on PCR Standards for BioWatch Program

A new report from the National Research Council’s Committee on PCR Standards for the BioWatch Program provides recommendations on general principles and approaches for a performance standard and validation framework to meet BioWatch’s mission. Global Biodefense >>

Faster Detection of Hidden Objects by Warwick Terahertz Sensor

A new type of sensor, which is much faster than competing technologies used to detect and identify hidden objects, has been developed by scientists at the University of Warwick. The device could help address the weaknesses reported earlier this month in America’s airport security, where mock weapons and explosives were smuggled through airports, undetected in 95% of cases. Government Security News >>

Report Provides Roadmap Towards Smarter Fire Fighting

This roadmap is meant to push fire departments across the nation to implement CPS applications to provide critical information before, during and after an incident. The authors of this report argue that the cost would not be prohibitive, as ‘smart’ fire fighting can capitalize on growing collections of community and building-related data and the increasing adoption of computer-controlled building management systems. Homeland Security Digital Library >>

Social Engagement Helps in Disaster Preparedness

People who participate in social activities in their community are more likely to plan and prepare for future disasters, such as tsunamis, according to a new study. The study was based on household surveys in tsunami-prone areas of Phang Nga, Thailand, a region which was hard hit by the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, and which has been active in setting up tsunami early warning systems and disaster training programs. HSNW >>

Spotlight: Bacteria That “Breathe Uranium” to Cleanup Groundwater

The uranium ingested by the bacteria goes through a process called “reduction.” However, scientists don’t yet understand how the reduced uranium behaves below the ground. The scientists believe they form uranium nanoparticles, but they are still conducting research. The scientists were able to isolate the strain of uranium in the lab by adding dissolved uranium to soil samples from the Colorado mine until they witnessed bacterial activity. HDIAC >>

U.S. Government Places 133M Smallpox Vaccine Order

Under this new order, which is an extension of an existing contract, Bavarian Nordic will manufacture and store a bulk supply of IMVAMUNE. This bulk material could be converted into freeze-dried IMVAMUNE at a later date, once the freeze-drying manufacturing process has been transferred to a commercial line, and is approved by the U.S. authorities. Global Biodefense >>

Disinformation Campaigns Damage Credibility of Social Media Emergency Alerts

Disinformation campaigns, which populate sections of social media platforms such as Twitter, are making real emergency data and notifications harder to absorb, a cybersecurity analyst argues. The spreading of emergency-related hoaxes, including those which involve conspiracy-related topics, damages the credibility of sites that provide useful information in those circumstances. HSNW >>

5 Keys to the New US National Military Strategy

In response to Russia’s nuclear saber-rattling the strategy emphasizes the need to ensure U.S. nuclear capabilities are modernized. Maintaining credible nuclear strike capability to counter proliferation by revisionist states is another stated objective. As Dempsey observes in his introduction, “Control of escalation is becoming more difficult and more important.” Defense One >>

Nothing Left to Chance

Over the past four years, three very different “black swan” chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear events (known as CBRN) have occurred, including the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan, the threat posed by chemical weapons in Syria and the Ebola outbreak in western Africa. The response to these events demonstrated an ability to adapt to uncertain and evolving conditions during a crisis, but they also serve as warnings that preparedness is hardly perfect. US News >>

Particle Associated Fukushima Daiichi Cesium in the Ocean Off Japan

A three year time-series of particle fluxes is presented from sediment traps deployed at 500 and 1000 m at a site 115 km southeast of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP). Results show a high fraction of lithogenic material and mass flux peaks that do not align between the trap depths, suggesting a lateral source of sediments. Environmental Science & Technology >>

Hypersonics are Here to Stay

On June 7, China carried out a fourth test of its hypersonic glide vehicle, the WU-14. The vehicle is said to have traveled at Mach 10; the test reportedly involved “extreme maneuvers.” China has now carried out four hypersonic tests in a span of 18 months—indicating that Beijing accords great urgency and priority to the development of hypersonic technology. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists >>

A Final Hurdle in Iran Talks Deals With Conventional, Not Nuclear, Arms

One of the last major obstacles to concluding a historic nuclear deal with Iran is a dispute over a set of United Nations sanctions that appeared to be resolved months ago and only peripherally has to do with nuclear weapons. The sanctions, passed in a series of resolutions by the United Nations Security Council beginning nine years ago, ban the shipment of conventional arms into and out of Iran. NY Times >>

HHS Awards 840M for Health Emergency Preparedness

The cooperative agreement funds are distributed through two federal preparedness programs: the Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) and the Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) programs. Nationwide, HHS awarded a total of $228.5 million for HPP and $611 million for PHEP in fiscal year 2015. Global Biodefense >>

JNPT Installs ECIL’s Radiological Detection Equipment

Jawaharlal Nehru Port (JNPT), Mumbai, handles 80% of cargo by road transport and accordingly in the first phase the Radiological Detection Equipment has been installed at the points to check the truck containers. In the second phase all rail containers will also be scanned, for the Port to become 100% secure in handling radioactive materials. Maritime Professional >>

The 24/7 Search for Killer Quakes

National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC) information helps governments and humanitarian groups to decide how to respond in times of crisis. It determines whether search-and-rescue teams pack their bags, and whether financial markets begin responding to a catastrophic natural disaster. When minutes count, hundreds of key responders — from the White House to the United Nations — rely on the NEIC team to tell them exactly how bad an earthquake was. Nature >>

Russia Is Now Vulnerable to Surprise Nuclear Attack

Russia’s space-based early warning system, designed to alert the nation to an inbound nuclear missile attack, is offline, leaving Moscow partially blind to potential intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) attacks. Russia announced last year that it would be replacing its aging Soviet-designed missile-warning system, which was decommissioned in January, this month. But last week, they announced that the replacement satellites had been delayed by four months. Vice News >>

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