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Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons, Rail Disaster Preparedness, Walmart Bomb Threat

Topics in this issue include tourism at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation site, Pakistan’s nuclear arms race, responder preparedness for rail events, and fast reactor research. 

In This Article

Nuclear Security & Energy

Nuclear Plant Contractors Faked 10 Months of Inspection Records

Contractors at Entergy’s Waterford 3 nuclear power plant on the west bank of St. Charles Parish failed to conduct required hourly fire inspections and falsified records for 10 months to show the inspections occurred, according to the results of a 15-month-long investigation announced Dec. 23 by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. NOLA Times Magazine >>

Russia Hails Progress with Americium in Fast Reactor Research

Four Russian institutes have successfully conducted an experiment on the isolation and separation of americium and curium from used nuclear fuel. In a statement today, Russian nuclear fuel manufacturer TVEL said this was a crucial development in work aimed at closing the fuel cycle of fast reactors. World Nuclear News >>

NRC Says Xcel Energy Agrees to Corrective Measures at Plant

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says Xcel Energy has agreed to take corrective measures to address the improper testing of welds on six spent fuel canisters at the Monticello nuclear plant. LaCrosse Tribune >>

Nuclear Power Plants Feared Vulnerable to Terrorist Groups

After the triple meltdown in Fukushima in 2011, Japan shut down all 48 of its viable commercial reactors in light of the crisis. But attempts are now being made to bring many back online. Security at France’s 58 nuclear power plants was purportedly raised to its highest level last month as a result of the terrorist attacks in Paris, stoking concern over the safety of Japan’s nuclear facilities. Emergency Management >>

Nuclear Tourism

Most Polluted US Nuclear Weapons Building Site Plans for Influx of Tourists

Thousands of people are expected next year to tour the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, home of the world’s first full-sized nuclear reactor and the most polluted US nuclear weapons production site. Hanford, near Richland, about 200 miles east of Seattle in south-central Washington state, is the newest national park. The Guardian >>

Chemical & Biological Threats

FDA Warns of Potential Contamination of Drug Shipments from Explosions in Tianjin City

FDA is alerting drug compounders and manufacturers that drug shipments from Tianjin, China may be at risk of chemical contamination. FDA increased surveillance of drug shipments following two massive explosions at Tianjin Dongjiang Port Ruihai International Logistics Co., a chemical warehouse. Food and Drug Administration >>

Syria Conflict: Assad Regime Accused of Chemical Weapon Attack After Five ‘Suffocate’

Residents of Moadamiyeh, where the death of hundreds of people in August 2013 led to an international drive to remove and destroy Syrian government chemical weapons stocks, say five people died of suffocation after the town was struck by what activists called “poison gas” on Tuesday night. Independent >>

Congress Poised to Finalize New Chemical Safety Law

After the U.S. Senate last week passed S. 697 to modernize the federal law that controls commercial chemicals, Congress launched negotiations to resolve differences between that bill and a similar measure approved by the House of Representatives. The House cleared its slimmer version of the legislation (H.R. 2576) to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) in June. C&EN >>

Nuclear Weapons & Nonproliferation

Pakistan’s Race to Build Tiny Nukes Is Going to Backfire

Pakistan has the fastest growing nuclear arsenal and, within the next five to ten years, it is likely to double that of India, and exceed those of France, the United Kingdom, and China. Only the arsenals of the United States and Russia will be larger. Defense One >>

The Bizarre Story of the Time a Canadian Province Tried to Nuke Itself

The plot to nuke Alberta was hatched in the Middle East. However, it didn’t originate as the thoughts of a radical jihadist nor a Bond villain dead set on taking over western Canada. No, it was dreamed up in the head of an oil man. Vice News >>

China Deploys First Nuclear Deterrence Patrol

China has recently achieved some important milestones with regards to both these capabilities. According to IHS Jane’s, U.S. military officials confirmed that the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has deployed a Type-094 Jin-class nuclear-powered ballistic submarine on a nuclear deterrence patrol. If true, this represents the first time that China has deployed a sub on this kind of mission. The Diplomat >>

Historical Reflections

1950s U.S. Nuclear Target List Offers Chilling Insight

Target category No. 275 from the nuclear target list for 1959 may be the most chilling. It is called simply “Population.” For the first time, the National Archives and Records Administration has released a detailed list of the United States’ potential targets for atomic bombers in the event of war with the Soviet Union, showing the number and the variety of targets on its territory, as well as in Eastern Europe and China. NY Times >>

Hazmat & Facility Incidents

PG&E Discovers Source of Southern California Breach

Southern California Gas Co. officials say they have pinpointed the underground location of a well pipe that for weeks has spewed noxious odors into a Los Angeles neighborhood, prompting thousands of people to leave their homes over the holidays. Mercury News >>

First Responders Often Unprepared for Derailments

Trains carrying hazardous materials — from chlorine and hydrochloric acid to ethanol and crude oil — roll through neighborhoods and business districts nationwide every day. Most of them go unnoticed, and nearly all reach their final destination without incident. But when they crash, the consequences can be dire. About 1.4 million Ohioans live within a half-mile of rail lines where Bakken crude is transported. Emergency Management >>

GEMA Buying New Hazardous Devices Equipment for County Police

The Gwinnett County Police Department’s Hazardous Devices Unit is getting some new equipment from the Georgia Emergency Management Agency. County commissioners voted this past week to accept a $115,000 sub-grant from GEMA, which in turn got the money as part of a grant pot from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to keep Georgians safe. Police Chief Butch Ayers said the county’s money will be spent on four analyzers and meters. Gwinnet Daily Post >>

Boeing Fined $12M for Failing to Quickly Address Fuel Tank Blast Risk

Boeing has agreed to the fine for failing to meet a deadline to submit service instructions that would enable airlines to reduce the risk of fuel tank explosions on hundreds of planes, among other violations, according to the FDA. NBC News >>

Government & Legislation

Homeland Security Move to St. Elizabeths Fully Funded in Omnibus

The controversial but ongoing effort to consolidate Homeland Security Department headquarters staff on the campus of St. Elizabeths got a boost in the $1.1 trillion fiscal 2016 spending bill enacted last week. Government Executive >>

Explosives, EOD & IED

Camp Lejeune Bomb Threats Close Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts

Marines at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, experienced an unscheduled disruption Thursday morning when two bomb threats temporarily closed the Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks on base. Military personnel and explosive detection dogs immediately swept the area, but found no trace of any explosive material. Marine Corps Times >>

Explosion, Building Collapse on Perdue Factory Compound in Accomack Co.

Part of a building on the Perdue factory compound on the Eastern Shore collapsed early Thursday morning after there was an explosion in the boiler room. Emergency dispatchers first received calls about a fire at the factory around 3:30 a.m., but when crews arrived they found no flames and part of the building collapsed. WTKR 3 >>

Ball Bearing Company to Pay $150K Penalty After Explosion

New Hampshire Ball Bearings has agreed to pay a $150,000 penalty for a factory explosion in Peterborough that blew out windows and injured 15 people last year. According to the state, a tank containing acid used to treat ball bearings was emptied into a drum that may have held an incompatible substance such as isopropyl alcohol. The ensuing reaction caused pressure to build up inside the sealed drum, leading to an explosion. WMUR New Hampshire >>

Crews Clear Scene After Explosion at Newark Manufacturing Plant

More than 20 fire trucks were sent to the scene of a blaze in Newark on Monday afternoon at Arboris LLC, a manufacturing plant. A pressurized tank containing hexane and ethanol exploded. The plant’s fire suppression system kicked in, giving workers time to run for it. NBC4 Columbus >>

Walmart in Apopka Cleared After Bomb Threat, Police Say

The evacuation has been lifted on Monday at a Walmart in Apopka after a bomb threat, according to police. The Walmart was evacuated around 1 p.m. after someone called the Walmart and said there was bomb inside the store, according to Apopka police. Click Orlando >>

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