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Disaster Supply Kits, Bioweapons for Dummies, Community Paramedicine

CBRNE Particles News Scan 2Topics in this issue include insider threat mitigation, risks to EMS in terrorism incident response, radiation detecting drones and replacing HEU in naval reactors.

In This Article

Government & Legislative

Department of Homeland Security Insider Threat and Mitigation Act of 2016

H.R. 3361 would direct the Department of Homeland Security to establish a program to protect the department’s critical assets from insider threats (that is, harmful activities by department employees and certain other persons with access to classified information). Congressional Budget Office >>

CT Lawmakers Hoping Federal Study Will Block Plum Island Sale

Connecticut lawmakers are hoping a study they helped commission will stop the federal government from selling Plum Island, 840 acres of land in Long Island Sound where the federal government has long studied dangerous animal diseases. CT Mirror >>

House Committee Passes Homeland Security Grant Legislation

The House Committee on Homeland Security on Wednesday passed legislation introduced by Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D-NJ), Ranking Member of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications, to improve coordination between state and local partners on funding priorities for homeland security grants. HS Today >>

Emergency Preparedness

Lack of Evidence Supporting the Effectiveness of Disaster Supply Kits

We reviewed the available evidence in support of the effectiveness of disaster supply kits presently used in household emergency preparedness in the United States. The expectation that people should take responsibility for their own disaster preparedness has largely not taken into account contextual influences on disaster preparedness. American Public Health Association >>

HHS Official: Social Media Listening a ‘Routine’ Part of Emergency Response

Tweets are essential data points when mapping out federal emergency response, a group of government officials told an audience Thursday. In the first few days after Hurricane Sandy in 2012, government response teams scanned the microblogging platform for mentions of especially dire situations — including hospitals without power, nursing homes that needed to evacuate residents, and elderly people trapped in high-rise buildings — to target aid. Nextgov >>

Report Directs Criticism at EMS, Fire Departments

Firefighters wouldn’t allow EMTs to share a building while a new EMS facility is being built. Many fire stations are unclean and in disrepair. A lack of trust, communication and coordination exists among the 10 volunteer fire departments and the county’s paid fire chief. Fourteen percent of the county’s fire trucks should be taken out of service. These are a few of the findings from a $42,600 report on fire and EMS departments from Fitch & Associates of Platte City, Missouri, commissioned last year by Highlands County. Emergency Management >>

EMTs and Paramedics Face New Reality of Terrorism and an Evolving Set of Challenges

Training for mass disasters has long been part of the emergency medical curriculum, but paramedics and emergency medical technicians say responding to terrorist attacks poses unique challenges that can evolve with each new event. One tactic seen frequently in recent terrorist attacks, including in Brussels on Tuesday, is that of multiple attacks in different locations. International Business Times >>

Community Paramedicine — Addressing Questions as Programs Expand

The Massachusetts acute community care program is one of numerous new initiatives in the United States using emergency medical services (EMS) personnel. These mobile integrated health care and community paramedicine programs aim to address critical problems in local delivery systems, such as insufficient primary and chronic care resources, overburdened EDs, and costly, fragmented emergency and urgent care networks. New England Journal of Medicine >>

Unmanned Systems

Radiation-Detecting Drone Developed

Spanish firm Escuadrone has developed what it claims is the world’s first drone equipped with a system for detecting radioactivity. The drone can be used in the management of nuclear-related emergencies, it says. The mini-aircraft is equipped with probes for detecting alpha, beta and gamma radiation. Huesca-based Escuadrone said the technology has already been successfully used on ground equipment employed following the March 2011 accident at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant. World Nuclear News >>

Radioactive Waste & Contamination

Indian Point: Past Its Expiration Date

LAST month, samples showed a spike in the amount of radioactive tritium being discharged from Indian Point Energy Center into the groundwater near our homes along the Hudson River. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo ordered several state agencies to carry out an inspection of the nuclear plant just 45 miles north of midtown Manhattan; the Nuclear Regulatory Commission also sent inspectors. NY Times >>

Florida’s Turkey Point Nuke Pollutes Biscayne Aquifer, Biscayne National Park

Contaminated water originating from the cooling canal system at Florida Power & Light’s (FPL) Turkey Point facility is reaching Biscayne Bay, threatening South Florida’s drinking water supply and Biscayne National Park. The findings and analysis by the Miami-Dade County Department of Environmental Resource Management (DERM) were released by Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s office late yesterday in an official memo to the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners. HSNW >>

Giant Arch to Block Chernobyl Radiation for Next 100 Years

In the middle of a vast exclusion zone in northern Ukraine, the world’s largest land-based moving structure has been built to prevent deadly radiation spewing from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster site for the next 100 years. Reuters >>

EPA and DHS Partner in Radiation Decontamination Project

By taking advantage of timely, cost-effective mitigation options, early responders will mitigate radiological contamination, thus reducing dose and allowing continuity of response operations and public services. Federal environmental responders, on-scene coordinators and other officials need timely and cost-effective decontamination options, which will enable contamination responders to return cleanup sites to a usable state. HDIAC >>

Nuclear Energy

Everything You Need to Know About Mini Nuclear Reactors

Nuclear power can be a touchy subject, one that seems to divide opinion. Many people believe it is unclean, controversial and costly – and the 2011 Fukushima disaster showed the world just how unsafe nuclear can be; the meltdown of the power plant was the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in Ukraine, 25 years earlier. The Conversation >>

The Nuclear Industry: A Small Revolution

Nuclear reactors may be about to shrink before our eyes. After decades of building giant reactors in domes big enough to swallow a cathedral, nuclear engineers are thinking small. They believe part of the solution to the energy crisis will come from factory-built mini-reactors, just 75ft long, delivered to the site on the back of a lorry. Fans of small modular reactors (SMRs) say they will avoid the problems of delay and cost over-run that has beset traditional reactors. Most importantly, they say, “mini-nukes” as small as a tenth the size of a conventional reactor would be much easier to finance. BBC News >>

Replacing Highly Enriched Uranium in Naval Reactors

The Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) and the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) released a new report, Replacing Highly Enriched Uranium in Naval Reactors. The report has been made available in advance of the fourth and final Nuclear Security Summit in Washington and explores the prospects for minimizing highly enriched uranium (HEU) in the naval sector worldwide, with a special focus on the United States Navy. Nuclear Threat Initiative >>


Quantity of Explosive Found in Belgium Surprises Officials

The announcement by the Belgian authorities that they had confiscated more than 30 pounds of the explosive TATP from a dwelling used by the attackers in Brussels was, in some ways, an expected development. But it contained one detail that bomb-disposal technicians and security officials regarded with surprise: the quantity of the particular explosive involved. New York Times >>

START’s Review – 25 Years of Ideological Homicides (1990-2014)

The Research Brief titled Victims of Ideological Homicides, 1990-2014 was published by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), and presents data relating to victims of “al-Qa’ida and affiliated movements (AQAM) and the extremist far-right (FRE – Far-Right Extremists) in the United States from 1990 to 2014.” Homeland Security Digital Library >>

Q&A: Brussels Attacks and Airport Security

What makes airports vulnerable to terrorist attacks? Airports and aircraft are very valuable, high-cost objects, which makes them attractive targets for terrorists. But they are also vulnerable because of the large volumes of people passing through at almost all times. It can be difficult to screen people inside airports because of the sheer number of people in the area at any one time. The Conversation >>

The Changing Logic Behind Suicide Bombings

Pape’s theory is that suicide terrorism is fundamentally a response to military intervention—in the form of a rival occupying territory that the terrorists prize. The argument here isn’t that all territorial occupations produce suicide terrorism, or that every individual terrorist is chiefly concerned with contested land, but rather that terrorist groups that today practice suicide terrorism tend to be grappling with dynamic losses of territory. Defense One >>

Beyond Brussels: 8 Other Cities Attacked by Terrorists in March

Brussels saw a big win four days ago when the key suspect behind the 2015 Paris terror attacks, Salah Abdeslam, was caught after a four-month-long manhunt. But that victory has been eclipsed by the devastating explosions that hit the city’s airport and metro transit Tuesday. The Islamic State has claimed credit for these fresh attacks, which have killed at least 32 people and injured around 200. CityLab >>

Nuclear Security

Everything you need to know about the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit

The 2016 Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) is being held March 31 and April 1 in Washington, D.C. The fourth and final in a series of summits that aims to enhance the security and control of fissile materials—in particular, highly enriched uranium and plutonium—this year’s meeting will unveil action plans for the five main international organizations and initiatives working to secure nuclear and radiological materials. Brookings >>

The All-Too-Human Reason Nuclear Material Isn’t Secure Enough

In 2012 an 82-year-old nun and two other senior citizens broke into the complex at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where the United States stores most of its weapons-grade uranium. The security failures revealed by this act at the Y-12 National Security Complex were legion, rooted in complacency and poor training. Management tolerated high false-alarm rates, leading guards to ignore the warnings. Workers dismissed the pounding on the building as unscheduled maintenance. Guards violated communications and weapons-handling procedures when making the arrests. Defense One >>

Nuclear Terrorism: Countering the Threat

A new book on nuclear terrorism has been published by Routledge Publishing. Miles Pomper of the Washington office of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, in collaboration with Aaron Gluck, authored a chapter on, “Promoting alternatives to high-risk radiological sources.” This volume aims to improve understanding of nuclear security and the prevention of nuclear terrorism. Center for Nonproliferation Studies >>

Charting the Course for Nuclear Security: An Indian Perspective

The proliferation threat became more pronounced with the breakup of the Soviet Union. And after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the threat narrative underwent another change. Credible intelligence revealed that global terrorist networks were actively seeking weapons of mass destruction, particularly fissile material and radioactive sources, leading to a renewed interest in nuclear security. Carnegie India >>

It’s Time for China to Turn Nuclear-Security Pledges into Reality

There is no shortage of terrorist groups – homegrown and international alike – that see opportunity in China’s nuclear enterprise, the fastest-growing in the world. Some would like to steal radioactive material for nuclear or dirty bombs; others may be pondering ways to breach a facility’s containment walls or even induce a Fukushima-style meltdown. Defense One >>

Chemical + Biological Threats

Crowd Control with Chemical Agents: Fundamental Questions Raised

Anybody who has attended one of Michael Crowley’s annual presentations at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on the challenges posed by riot control and incapacitating agents for the future of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) knows his passion for the subject matter. And his overwhelming knowledge about the latest developments in science, technology, industry and government policies. These characteristics also typify his book on the topic, Chemical Control, published late last year. The Trench >>

Bioweapons… for Dummies? Evaluating the Threat of Rogue Biohacking

Scholars claim that recent technology advances mean that even teenagers can make bioweapons. While this is theoretically possible, it is also very unlikely. Mr. Liu presents a plausible pathway for amateur biohackers to engineer a weapon and assess the difficulty of every step. Furthermore, he comments on how improvements in DNA editing may alter the biosecurity landscape. Center for Nonproliferation Studies >>

Hazardous Chemical Found in NJ Water System

A probable carcinogen has been detected in more than 80 water systems throughout New Jersey, according to recent analysis of federal data. The chemical in question is 1,4-dioxane, which was found at a Superfund site in the state. 1,4-dioxane is an ether most commonly used as a stabilizer for the solvent trichloroethane. It has been shown to be dangerous to human health and can cause liver, kidney and respiratory damage. >>

Sea Life Thriving in Chemical Weapons Dump

The Pacific Ocean hides chemical weapons, such as mustard gas, dumped after World War II. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) recently documented one of these dumps using diving robots. The MBARI mission found rusting 55-gallon drums filled with unknown substances, but no artillery shells. Instead of instruments of death, the chemical weapons dump sites harbored life, including sponges, crabs and anemones. Seeker >>

Nuclear Weapons

North Korea Tests New Rocket Engine, State Media Says

North Korea said on Thursday that it had successfully tested a new rocket engine that would significantly bolster its missile capabilities, and South Korea called on its people to heighten vigilance against possible terrorist attacks by the North. North Korea’s claim to have manufactured a solid-fuel engine was the latest in a series of assertions and threats it has made about its missile and nuclear weapons capabilities in recent weeks. New York Times >>

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