Locust Bomb-Sniffers, First Responder Grants, Firefighter Yoga

Topics in this issue include first responder preparedness grants, electronic bomb-sniffers vs. dogs, firefighter yoga, and chemical safety board.

In This Article

5 Train Cars Derail in Texas, Spilling Chemical, Injuring 2

Authorities say five train cars overturned outside of San Antonio, spilling about 1,000 gallons of sodium hydroxide and prompting a temporary evacuation. Bexar County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Monica Ramos said the derailment happened around 4 p.m. Sunday in an industrial area southwest of the city. >>

Use of Police Robot to Kill Dallas Shooting Suspect Believed to Be First in US History

For what experts are calling the first time in history, US police have used a robot in a show of lethal force. Early Friday morning, Dallas police used a bomb-disposal robot with an explosive device on its manipulator arm to kill a suspect after five police officers were murdered and seven others wounded. The Guardian >>

MI6 Stood by Bogus Intelligence Until After Iraq Invasion

The British secret service only became suspicious about the value of a covert source when a description of a supposed chemical weapons device proved remarkably similar to one in the Hollywood movie The Rock, according to the Chilcot report. The Guardian >>

DHS Announces Grant Allocations for Fiscal Year 2016 Preparedness Grants

Secretary Jeh Johnson today announced final allocations of $275 million for six Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 DHS competitive preparedness grant programs. These allocations, in addition to the more than $1.3 billion in non-competitive grant funding announced by Secretary Johnson in February, total more than $1.6 billion in FY 2016 to assist states, urban areas, tribal and territorial governments, nonprofit agencies, and the private sector with their preparedness efforts. Government Security News >>

Electronic Nose Detects Pesticides, Nerve Gas

Detecting pesticides and nerve gas in very low concentrations? An international team of researchers has made it possible. The researchers have built a very sensitive electronic nose with metal-organic frameworks (MOFs). The chemical sensor can easily be integrated into existing electronic devices. HSNW >>

Navy is Rigging Locusts to Sniff Out Bombs

Insects engineered to detect explosives sound like something out of a sci-fi movie, but they may become a reality for the U.S. military. Last week, the Office of Naval Research awarded researchers at the University of Washington in St. Louis, Missouri $750,000 over three years to alter locusts to remotely sense bombs and other explosive devices. NextGov >>

Can Next-Generation Bomb ‘Sniffing’ Technology Outdo Dogs On Explosives Detection?

Ion mobility spectroscopy is what TSA officers are using when they swab and test your laptop, hands or other items at the airport. But this method is labor-intensive and slow for large volumes of stuff, and its effectiveness can depend on the sampling skill of the officer. It relies on contact sampling, which requires security personnel to have access to surfaces where residue may have been left. HSNW >>

Chemical Sniffing Instrumentation for Security Applications

This review paper investigates artificial sniffing technologies used as chemical sensors for point-of-use chemical analysis, especially during border security applications. This article presents an overview of the existing available technologies reported in the scientific literature for threat screening, commercially available, portable (hand-held and stand-off) chemical detection systems, and their underlying functional and operational principles.
Chemical Reviews >>

City Denies Request for Chemical Data

After a fire at a Spring Branch warehouse in May, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner called for more transparency and tougher oversight of facilities that handle dangerous chemicals. But when the Houston Chronicle recently requested the information the city has on those businesses, the city said no. Emergency Management >>

Why Bartenders and Firefighters Are Practicing Yoga at Work

Shannon McQuaide launched FireFlex yoga at the fire department in San Jose, California around two and a half years ago. Since then, it’s expanded to six different fire stations and reached over 100 firefighters and policemen. “Most fire departments and police departments are tuned into the physical demands of the profession,” McQuaide says. The psychological toll, however, is a whole other matter. City Lab >>

Connecting with the Public Safety Community Through Social Media

FirstNet is working to ensure the deployment of a network for public safety use that will give first responders priority in emergency situations to send voice or text messages, images, video, and location information in real time.  The network will improve communications and collaboration throughout the public safety community and help responders save lives and keep communities safe. FirstNet >>

S. Korea Provides Anti-Chemical Weapons Education to OPCW Member Nations

Officials from some Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) member nations, including China and India, are receiving anti-chemical weapons training in South Korea this week. Korea Times >>

Air Force Doesn’t Need New Nuclear Cruise Missile, Lawmaker Says

The top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee made his case Wednesday for cutting the new nuclear cruise missile for the Air Force and reining in the entire effort to modernize the nation’s nuclear deterrent. DoD Buzz >>

Quebec Town Ravaged by Train Fire Wants Rail to Bypass It

A runaway oil train brought death and destruction to this tiny community in Quebec, killing 47 people and destroying dozens of buildings. Three years later, trains still roll through downtown, just feet from restaurants and shops. Residents who see them as a haunting reminder of the conflagration want trains re-routed around the town, and a feasibility study of the proposed bypass, estimated to cost 115 million Canadian dollars, is underway. Seattle Times >>

The Uncertain Future of Nuclear Power in the U.S.

Nuclear plants still generate nearly 20 percent of electricity in the U.S., but that looks likely to change over the next few years. Thanks to plummeting oil and gas prices and rising safety concerns since the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi disaster, more and more nuclear power reactors in the West are on their way to being decommissioned. City Lab >>

Chairman Mccaul Releases July Terror Threat Snapshot

The July Terror Threat Snapshot was released today by Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX). The “snapshot” is a monthly Committee assessment of the growing threat America, the West, and the world face from ISIS and other Islamist terrorists. Homeland Security Committee >>

Chemical Safety Board Must Conduct More Investigations

The federal agency that investigates incidents at chemical plants fell far short of its statutory responsibilities in recent years, according to a newly released report. The EPA Office of Inspector General report identified three “major management challenges” — or issues that could make agencies “vulnerable to waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement” — with the Chemical Safety Board in the 2016 fiscal year. >>

Fictional Video Shows Washington, D.C. Being Obliterated by a Nuclear Weapon

The present national security environment America faces today is loaded with challenges as far as the eye can see—but it might just be the dangers we don’t see coming or fail to see, those that are so difficult to imagine, so gut wrenching and horrific to even contemplate, that a future calamity someday might take us by surprise and do the most harm of all. National Interest >>

Effects from Nuclear Bomb Tests Offers Clues to Body’s Ability to Renew Cartilage

The fallout from nuclear bomb testing decades ago is now helping researchers better understand knee joints. By tracking radioactive carbon absorbed in knees, a team of Danish researchers has found that the structure of cartilage is determined by early adolescence and doesn’t change later in life. They published their findings Wednesday in Science Translational Medicine. STAT News >>

Iran’s Parchin Particles: Why Should Two Mites of Uranium Matter?

Two specks of uranium might determine whether or not the Iran nuclear deal succeeds or fails. “The Obama administration has concluded that uranium particles discovered last year at a secretive Iranian military base likely were tied to the country’s past, covert nuclear weapons program,” the Wall Street Journal reported last month. The International Atomic Energy Agency first disclosed the discovery in a footnote to a key report last December. Foreign Policy >>

The Secret Nuclear History of Cat Videos

Behind every Rickroll is a technology designed at the height of the Cold War to guarantee nuclear annihilation. Since the late 1990s, this technology has gone by vague names like “differentiated services,” “AF41,” and “CS5.” But the manuals still use their old names: precedence, a system for making certain the most critical messages would always get through; Flash Override, designed to allow the President to reliably control nuclear weapons after a surprise Soviet attack; and CRITIC/ECP, a priority so high that even the US Strategic Air Command never used it. Motherboard >>

The Military is Developing Bomb-Sniffing Cyborg Locusts

Finding explosives is notoriously difficult. Machines that detect explosive chemicals are expensive and unreliable. Animals that can sniff out bombs are difficult and time-consuming to train. Magic doesn’t work and also isn’t real. And yet, detecting explosives is extremely important for safety and security. Cheap bomb detectors are in demand by police, the military, airport security, and even governments like Vietnam and South Korea, who still have active minefields left over from last century. Popular Mechanics >>

Who are Nuclear Weapons Scientists?

Most people study nuclear warfare by studying the new developments in the weapons themselves. Hugh Gusterson takes a different approach. Instead of studying the weapons, he studies the nuclear scientists who created them. He took to the TEDxFoggyBottom stage to share what he learned. TEDx Talks >>

U.S. Ports Want More Action on Dirty Bomb Prevention

The threat of terrorist smuggling at U.S. ports appears to be increasing, says the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA), who wants mechanisms to prevent cyber terrorism and illegal nuclear materials from being trafficked through ports intensified. Maritime Executive >>

US Navy Is Rigging Locusts to Sniff Out Bombs

Although dogs’ noses remain the gold standard for chemical detection, bugs’ simpler neurological system make them easier to engineer and control. The ideal bomb-finding bug would be able to fly into hard-to-reach places, chemically sense explosives, and alert military personnel accordingly. To direct the insects, researchers plan to tattoo specially engineered silk onto locusts’ wings. This tattoo will convert laser light into heat to goad the bug to fly in different directions. Defense One >>

Rip Currents: The Dangers of Nuclear-Armed Submarine Proliferation

When it comes to nuclear-armed submarines, the global status quo is transforming rapidly. During the Cold War and its immediate aftermath, there was more or less a dynamic equilibrium, in which sea-based nuclear forces were limited to the navies of the United States, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, and to some degree, China. But over the past several years, new players have entered the scene – including India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel – which means that stability is becoming challenged while the number of weapons in the arsenals of newer nuclear powers increases. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists >>

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Notable CBRN and IED/Explosives Contract Awards

DARPA Awards SIGMA Contract to Proportional Technologies, Inc.

CBRNE Particles News Scan

Chilcot Report, Fibrous Xerogel Films, Bomb-Detecting Mice