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Explosives Forensics, UAVs for Mass Casualty Hazard Identification

Topics in this issue of CBRNE Particles include emergency response to radiological releases, portable Raman spectroscopy in forensics, and additional radioactive contamination found at Hanford.

In This Article


Finland’s National CBRNE Strategy 2017

The Strategy describes the current state and the duties and responsibilities of key CBRNE actors, identifies the most important areas of development and puts forward an action plan for implementing the areas of development and strategic objectives. Ministry of the Interior >>

Must We Mean What We Say? Making Sense of the Nuclear Posture Review

The Nuclear Posture Review and critiques of the document, as well as most statements about the nature of nuclear weapons and their influence on international politics, are often based on little more than guesswork. What role has American nuclear strategy played in the most consequential issues in U.S. national security policy in recent decades, such as the wars in the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan, counter-terrorism, globalization, and even the re-balance to Asia? War on the Rocks >>

After More Than a Year, Trump Still Doesn’t Have a Science Adviser

His failure to fill the prominent post, which has required Senate confirmation since 1976, has raised concerns among scientists throughout the country. As evidence, they point to Trump’s first budget, which proposed a 20 percent cut to the Energy Department’s Office of Science, an agency that oversees a vast amount of basic research at the national laboratories; an 18 percent cut to the National Institutes of Health; and a 31 percent cut to the Environmental Protection Agency.  Boston Globe >>


Debating Slaughterbots and the Future of Autonomous Weapons

Even if nations did build lethal micro drones for use as weapons of mass destruction, there are a host of countermeasures that could be deployed against such weapons. These include missiles, guns, electronic jammers, cyber weapons, high-powered microwaves, and even passive defenses such as nets. Militaries are already working on countermeasures against small drone attacks today. Like virtually all useful military hardware, the efficacy of these countermeasures depends on the specific situation and how they are deployed.  IEEE Spectrum >>

The US Air Force Is Giving Its Anti-Drone Efforts a Silicon Valley Twist

Weaponized off-the-shelf drones are a growing problem for U.S. troops, in part because commercial tech moves faster than the Pentagon programs that aim to counter it. Four U.S. Air Force captains took a novel approach to the problem. AFWERX, the Air Force’s new tech innovation program, has partnered with tech accelerator Techstars to find start-ups and early-stage companies whose tech might help stop drones. Defense One >>

Robot Protection in the Hazardous Environments

Presents several protection approaches for rescue robots in the hazardous conditions. Design factors and challenges of the rescue robots are analyzed and indicated for these accidents.  INTECH >>

Comparison of UAV Technology Vs. Standard Practice in Identification of Hazards at a Mass Casualty Incident Scenario

The proliferation of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) has the potential to change the situational awareness of incident commanders allowing greater scene safety. The aim of this study was to compare UAV technology to standard practice in hazard identification during a simulated multi-vehicle motor collision (MVC) in terms of time to identification, accuracy and the order of hazard identification. >>

Northrop Seeks Parties for DARPA Swarm OFFSET Program

Northrop Grumman was selected as the Phase 1 Swarm Systems Integrator for the DARPA’s OFFSET program. OFFSET envisions future small-unit infantry forces using small unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) and/or small unmanned ground systems in swarms of 250 robots or more to accomplish diverse missions in complex urban environments. American Security Today >>


How Good a Match is It? Putting Statistics into Forensic Firearms Identification

The theory behind firearm identification is that microscopic striations and impressions left on bullets and cartridge cases are unique, reproducible, and therefore, like “ballistic fingerprints” that can be used to identify a gun. But bullets and cartridge cases that are fired from different guns might have similar markings, especially if the guns were consecutively manufactured. This raises the possibility of a false positive match, which can have serious consequences for the accused. NIST >>

Portable Raman Spectroscopy in Forensics: Explosive Residues and Inflammable Liquids

The advantages of having a cooled detector, which greatly improves signal-to-noise ratio and spectral resolution, has enabled the discrimination of highly similar explosives such as ammonium and potassium nitrate. The possibility of using a microscope enhances the potential of portable Raman spectrometers in such a way that microscopic traces as post-blast explosive particles can be analysed and identified in‐situ. Semantics Scholar

Pakistan Needs Forensic Science

Despite the limited forensic capability, there is a certain minimum onus on prosecution to prove their recovery items by forensics. This implies showing that a certain object, for instance, is a live hand grenade or the ‘powder’ seized is actually explosive in nature. These basic tenets are also not complied with in cases, but where attempted properly, and chain of evidence is consistent, convictions have resulted. However, as per routine in many cases, investigators don’t seem to comprehend that they have to ‘forensicate’ a bombing crime scene, and thus gross irregularities occur. Daily Times

Drug Trafficking Can Support Terrorist Activity, but Not in Ways Most Believe

The researchers evaluated evidence on the annual volume of drugs seized—via the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime—in relation to the amount of terrorist activity in 30 provinces across the Central Asian republics from 2008 to 2016. While they found that drug trade facilitates terrorism in drug transit states, the pathways connecting drug trafficking to terrorist activity are very diverse. The appropriation of terrorist activity by existing terrorist groups are rather rare. Forensic Magazine

Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy: Recent Applications in Forensic Science

SERS has many advantages over its parent technique of Raman spectroscopy. Some of these advantages such as an increase sensitivity and selectivity and therefore the possibility of extremely small sample sizes and detection of incredible small concentrations are invaluable in the field of forensics. A variety of new SERS surfaces and novel approaches are presented here on a wide range of forensically relevant topics. Molecular and Biomolecular Spectroscopy


North Korea Threats Spur U.S. Search for New Radiation Therapies

The escalating threat of a potential nuclear war between North Korea and the United States has led the Department of Defense to join hands with a clutch of companies in developing more effective medical treatments for acute radiation syndrome. The DoD’s budget allocated $3.9 million of its total funding to develop such medical countermeasures in 2018, an increase of $600,000 from a year ago. Reuters >>

General Atomics EMS Awarded DARPA Contract for Portable Diagnostic Device

GA-EMS will develop a next generation Portable Diagnostic Platform with unique sensor technology and customizable, single-use disposable cartridges capable of lab-quality molecular diagnostics. A small fluid sample is inserted into a cartridge containing a molecular sensor chip and various reagents that will react when they come into contact with certain pathogens. Global Biodefense >>

Airmen Train for Biological Attacks

Team Moody airmen recently participated in a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense class. “We need our airmen to be prepared for any type of attack the enemy could throw at them,” said Tech Sgt. Anna Olson, 23d Civil Engineer Squadron NCO in charge of emergency management, plans, education and training. “The skillsets we’re teaching are vital, and we aspire for the airmen to take what we teach them and educate others to potentially save lives.” Valdosta Daily Times >>


The Royal Marines Fighting Against Chemical Warfare

The worlds of the military and science have been joining forces in order to combat the threat of chemical weapons. Exercise Toxic Dagger has brought together 40 Commando, the Defence Science Technology Laboratory and the Atomic Weapons Establishment. In the final stage of Exercise Toxic Dagger, Bravo Company, 40 Commando are faced with attacking a building with a potential chemical threat. Forces Network >>

Emergency Response to Radiological Releases: Have We Communicated Effectively to the First Responder Communities to Prepare Them to Safely Manage These Incidents?

The emergency responder community has experience with fires, emergency medical calls, chemical spills, confined spaces, and other common calls for assistance which has helped responders develop an understanding of the problems and a confidence in solving them. Radiation from an accidental release in a facility or during transportation, or from a terrorist incident that causes radioactive materials to be released from their containment vessel, remains a cause of concern and fear. Health Physics >>

German Emergency and Disaster Medicine and Management––History and Present

This article describes major historical milestones and the current state of the German system in emergency and disaster management and its integration into the broader European approach. Science Direct >>

Cling Film Plastic Wrap for Dead Body Packaging, Preservation and Transportation by First Responders as a Replacement for Cadaver Body Bag in Large Scale Disasters

Cadaver body bags are the conventional method to contain a human body or human remains, which includes the use for storage and transportation of the deceased at any crime scene or disaster scene. During disasters, most often than not, the first responders including the police will be equipped with cadaver body bags to do scene processing of human remains and collection of personal belongings at the disaster site. However, in an unanticipated large scale disasters involving hundreds and thousands of fatalities, cadaver body bags supplies may be scarce. Forensic Science International >>


Adhesion Characterization to Improve Trace Detection Using Mesostructured Polymers

During the fabrication, concealment, and transport of IEDs, residual amounts of explosive material are transferred onto clothes, luggage handles, and other surfaces. The goal of this work, using experimental and computational techniques, is to establish design considerations that will lead to a particle trap that offers unprecedented performance and reliability for trace explosives detection. Purdue University

Validation of CFD Simulation of Recoilless EOD Water Cannon

Water cannon used by Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) were designed to propel a burst of water jet moving at high speed to target and disrupt an improvised explosive device (IED). The cannon could be mounted on a remotely controlled robot, so it is highly desirable for the cannon to be recoilless in order not to damage the robot after firing. IOP Science

Long-Wave Infrared Imaging for Detection and Identification of Buried Objects

Detection of buried improvised explosive devices (IED) represents a complex threat to U.S. forces. This thesis explores the potential use of infrared images combined with finite element models to detect buried objects in soil. Initially, computer simulations using COMSOL Multiphysics software implemented a range of heat transfer dynamics to assess the feasibility of this approach. Naval Postgraduate School

Explosives Found in Suspect’s Car After Disturbance

The bomb squad was called and they found an intact improvised explosive device (IED) and several other components that could be used to make explosives, according to the MCSO. KHOU11

Revised Rapid Soils Analysis Kit (RSAK) – Wet Methodology

ERDC research on crater formation from detonation of improvised explosive devices identified the significance of soil type on crater shape and size. Military Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) teams required an expedient means of classifying soil from small field samples, according to the Unified Soil Classification System, to help identify characteristics of buried explosives. The existing Rapid Soils Analysis Kit (RSAK), developed at ERDC, was modified to shrink its cube volume, improve its accuracy, and adapt it to the EOD mission. Defense Technical Information Center

Explosive Device Kills 2 French Soldiers in Mali

Two members of a French counterterrorism force in Mali were killed Wednesday when an improvised explosive device hit their armored vehicle in a border region with Niger, authorities said. French President Emmanuel Macron’s office said a soldier and an officer were killed in the explosion. Voice of America

573rd Clearance Company Trains in IED Detection, Removal

More than 80 percent of IED finds are done with the naked eye, said Larry Driscoll, global threat mitigation program instructor for Fort Polk’s Joint Readiness Training Center Operations Group. “It’s hard to see where something is buried. Learning ground sign awareness is critical,” he said. Beauregard Daily News


Hanford Radioactive Contamination Grows: 6 Workers, 2 Offices, 36 Vehicles

Another spread of radioactive contamination has been confirmed at the Hanford nuclear reservation’s Plutonium Finishing Plant. In addition, more central Hanford workers have tested positive for inhaling or ingesting radioactive contamination from demolition of the plant. Tri City Herald >>

Intelligence Agencies Are Surging Resources to Focus on the Korean Peninsula

With talk of a “bloody nose” strike against North Korea being debated in Washington, public attention has focused on conventional military preparations for a U.S. attack on Pyongyang. Less noticed, but possibly even more telling, is the surge in recent months of intelligence resources. Foreign Policy >>

New Nuclear Warheads: Legislative Provisions

This Insight reviews legislation addressing research and development on new or low-yield nuclear weapons and notes that under current law, an Administration must request specific authorization and appropriations from Congress before funding new or modified warheads. It does not address the policy debate on the benefits and risks of this capability. FAS Congressional Research Service >>

Fukushima Town of Namie to Launch Radioactive Decontamination Work Around May

Around May, decontamination work will begin in the town of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, to make some of its most radioactive areas habitable again, the government said. By March 2023, the government hopes to lift the evacuation order for three parts consisting of 660 hectares. The areas scheduled for decontamination cover about 3.7 percent of the town. Japan Times >>


Development and Validation of a High-Resolution Mapping Platform to Aid in the Public Awareness of Radiological Hazards

With an even greater number of people possessing smart-phone technology, a lightweight and portable ‘connected system’ has been developed to demonstrate to users the calibrated radioactive dose rate in an area, viewable in real-time through a dedicated phone application. Journal of Radiological Protection >>

Calibrate or Die!

The importance of calibration for handheld gas and vapor detectors cannot be under-emphasized because many gas sensors fail to an unsafe state. The only way to assure that many sensors are working correctly is to apply a gas to them to “calibrate” them. CBRNe Tech Index >>

Comparison of External Doses in Radio-Contaminated Areas and Areas with High Natural Terrestrial Background Using D-Shuttle Dosimeter

To evaluate the dose from external exposure in Minamisoma city, and compare the differences with outside Fukushima Prefecture, researchers conducted the external dose assessment project in cooperation with city officials in Minamisoma and three other cities in Japan where the natural terrestrial background radiation level is relatively high. Journal of Radiological Protection >>

Comparison of UNSCEAR Isodose Maps for Annual External Exposure in Fukushima with Those Obtained Based on Airborne Monitoring Surveys

This paper compares two different methods to estimate the individual external doses of the public residing in the Fukushima Prefecture caused by radioactive fallout following the FDNPP accident in 2011. One is the method adopted by UNSCEAR, which makes use of the official soil deposition map. The other makes use of airborne monitoring maps, together with an empirical factor c = 0.15 obtained by comparing the large-scale ‘glass-badge’ dosemeter measurements and airborne surveys. Journal of Radiological Protection >>


WMD Epigenetic CHaracterization and Observation (ECHO) Proposers Day

The ECHO program aims to build a field-deployable platform technology that quickly reads someone’s epigenome and identifies signatures that indicate whether that person has ever—in his or her lifetime—been exposed to materials that could be associated with weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Global Biodefense >>

DoD Seeks Manufacturer for Nerve Agent Anticonvulsant Autoinjectors

The DoD is currently the NDA holder for Diazepam Auto-Injector, (NDA #20-124), Convulsant Antidote for Nerve Agents (CANA) and is interested in retaining sponsorship. The government is seeking a manufacturing partner; a tech transfer will be arranged between the current manufacturer and the partner. Global Biodefense >>


How North Korea Built a Nuclear Arsenal on the Ashes of the Soviet Union

Viktor Moisa, a retired rocket scientist, welcomed the North Koreans to his institute in eastern Ukraine just as he would with any other guests. He took them upstairs to the showroom of Soviet satellites and rocket engines, the pride of the institute’s collection. Then they went out to the yard, where an array of parts for ballistic missiles were on display. This was in the early 2000s, well before North Korea would test its first nuclear bomb in 2006. Time >>

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