WMD and Islamic State, Detecting Neurotoxins, Mine-Clearing Operations

Topics in this issue include WMD and the Islamic State, nuclear emergency preparedness, detecting neurotoxins, and anti-personnel mine clearing operations in Chile.

Chemical & Biological Threats

Smartphone Optosensing Platform Using a DVD Grating to Detect Neurotoxins

We present a smartphone optosensing platform (SOP) using a digital versatile disc (DVD) diffraction grating for rapid in-field detecting neurotoxins. The smartphone holder and sample holder were 3D printed for the SOP. A DVD grating is demonstrated for the first time in a low-cost miniature spectrometer on the SOP to quantify the concentrations of neurotoxins. The SOP is capable of detecting optical absorbance spectra within the entire visible spectral range from 400 to 700 nm with the spectral resolution of 0.2521 nm/pixel. ACS Sensors >>

Survey: Chemical Companies Planning to Add Compliance Staff

A majority of companies involved in chemical management will bolster their compliance staff in the near future, according to preliminary survey results released by Chemical Watch. The publication’s annual survey of global chemical management and control activities found that half of respondents expected to add compliance employees in the next 12 months, while two-thirds planned to do so within five years. >>

What Does the Chemical Safety Board Have in Common with OPM and Target?

The government board that investigates industrial chemical accidents does not keep track of computer systems it has outsourced to contractors, which could jeopardize information confidentiality, a federal inspection has found. Nextgov >>

EPA: Toxic Chemical Releases Declined in 2014

Federal environmental regulators reported a 6 percent decline in toxic waste releases from industrial facilities in 2014. The Environmental Protection Agency’s annual Toxics Release Inventory report added that airborne chemical releases declined by 4 percent compared to 2013 due to decreased emissions from chemical manufacturers and electric utilities. Air releases were down more than 50 percent compared to 2003 levels. >>

Emergency Preparedness

China Confident in Nuclear Emergency Preparedness

China’s State Council has today issued its first white paper on nuclear energy, detailing policies and measures to boost nuclear emergency preparedness and promoting nuclear security. Nuclear safety, it says, has been strengthened in parallel with development of its nuclear industry. World Nuclear News >>

Nuclear Safety & Energy

Nuclear Energy’s Future in the Middle East and North Africa

Several countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have announced plans to embrace nuclear power as part of their future energy mix. The UAE is ahead of its peers in building the first Arab nuclear power plant and becoming the first country in twenty-seven years to start constructing its first reactor. As these countries seek to meet their growing energy needs, they are forced to weigh the highly contested costs and benefits of nuclear power. Carnegie Middle East >>

Radioactive Traces Found Near St. Louis-Area Landfill

A Missouri agency has found more off-site radiation contamination near a St. Louis-area landfill where nuclear waste was illegally dumped four decades ago. e Missouri Department of Natural Resources said gamma radiation was found in the lower range in most samples. But some areas near the West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton showed “comparatively higher levels.” More testing is planned. Seattle Times >>

New Finding May Explain Heat Loss in Fusion Reactors

One of the biggest obstacles to making fusion power practical — and realizing its promise of virtually limitless and relatively clean energy — has been that computer models have been unable to predict how the hot, electrically charged gas inside a fusion reactor behaves under the intense heat and pressure required to make atoms stick together. >>

Explosives, EOD & C-IED

Chilean Army Clearing Magallanes Region of Anti-Personnel Mines

The Chilean Army is involved in anti-personnel mine sweeping operations in the Magallanes region, north of Punta Arenas, as part of the country’s commitment to have the region free of all mines by 2020 thus complying with the Ottawa convention. Merco Press >>


Islamic State and WMD: A Future Nightmare?

When it comes to the intelligence profession, surprise is the ultimate enemy — and surprise just happens to be the Islamic State’s specialty. The IS has delivered one after another with wanton brutality, from dramatic, border-busting early successes to urban conquests and the attacks it has planned or inspired around the world. Ozy >>

Emerging Technologies

Six Technologies That the U.S. Military is Betting On

At a time when budgetary resources at the Pentagon are being squeezed, the U.S. military is in search of force multipliers. From the nuclear enterprise to command and control to robotics and beyond, emerging technologies offer ways to modernize forces in innovative—and often efficient—ways. Nextgov >>

Nuclear Security

The Indelicate Balance of Nuclear Modernization

In 1983’s The Wizards of Armageddon, journalist Fred Kaplan describes the grim work of the RAND Corporation at the end of the 1950s. Over the course of that decade, RAND analysts had warned that US Strategic Air Command forces were dangerously vulnerable. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists >>

Iran, Terrorism, and Nonproliferation After the Nuclear Deal

After years of tough negotiations and raucous debate, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) entered the implementation phase on Jan. 16. In addition to marking Tehran’s verified action to dismantle central components of its nuclear program, Implementation Day signaled the beginning of sanctions relief for Iran. War on the Rocks >>

In Memoriam

Dr. Herbert L. Abrams, Who Worked Against Nuclear War, Dies at 95

Dr. Herbert L. Abrams, a radiologist at Stanford and Harvard universities and a founder of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985 for its work in publicizing the health consequences of atomic warfare, died on Jan. 20 at his home in Palo Alto, Calif. He was 95. NY Times >>

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