Stolen Radioactive Material in Iraq, Shipping Infectious Agents, EMS Challenges

Topics in this issue include stolen radioactive material in Iraq, properly shipping infectious bio-agents, and enhancing airport security.

Government & Legislation

Obama OKs New Sanctions Against North Korea Over Nuclear Program

President Barack Obama slapped North Korea with more stringent sanctions Thursday for defying the world and pushing forward with its nuclear weapons program, weeks after it launched a satellite-carrying rocket into space and conducted its fourth underground nuclear test. Seattle Times >>

S. 2361, Airport Security Enhancement and Oversight Act

The law would require TSA to undertake a variety of activities to improve the effectiveness of processes for screening, vetting, and credentialing personnel at airports, particularly individuals with access to secure areas. Such activities would include using risk-based models for screening airport employees based on the level of security of areas they access, reviewing procedures related to vetting employees and auditing airports’ issuance of credentials, studying opportunities to enhance security of entry and exit areas of secure areas of airports, and other security-related and administrative activities. CBO >>

US Tightens Sanctions on North Korea After Nuclear Test and Rocket Provocation

President Barack Obama slapped North Korea with more stringent sanctions Thursday for defying the world with its nuclear weapons program, weeks after it launched a satellite-carrying rocket into space and conducted its fourth underground nuclear test. The Guardian >>

H.R. 4084, Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act

The bill would authorize DOE to study the need for a new reactor to support research and development of advanced reactor systems, expand capabilities in the area of high-performance computation modeling and simulation techniques, and implement a program to enable the private sector to test and demonstrate reactor concepts. CBO >>

Emergency Response

Nation’s Capital Grapples with EMS Challenges

When firefighters from D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services delivered the unconscious patient to doctors and nurses at George Washington University Hospital, they reported that he had suffered a drug overdose. Had they examined the patient, they would have come to a different conclusion. Doctors found a gunshot wound. U.S. News >>

Nuclear Security

Radioactive Material Stolen in Iraq Raises Security Concerns

Iraq is searching for “highly dangerous” radioactive material whose theft last year has raised fears among Iraqi officials that it could be used as a weapon if acquired by Islamic State. Baghdad reported the stolen material to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in November but has not requested assistance to recover it, the U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Wednesday. Reuters >>

Video of Belgian Nuclear Official Found in Home of Paris Attack Suspects

Belgian security agencies confirm that video footage of a high-level Belgian nuclear official was found in a home searched for possible connection of its occupants to the 13 November Paris terrorist attacks. Belgian prosecutors refused to offer any more details of the video, its target, and who took it “for obvious security reasons.” HSNW >>

Radioactive Material Stolen from US Oilfield Company in Iraq

Security officials are concerned that radioactive material stolen from an Iraqi facility could wind up in the hands of the Islamic State group. Reuters reports that a small suitcase containing up to 10 grams if Ir-192 — a radioactive isotope of iridium — went missing from a storage facility near Basra in November. >>

Helping Inspectors Locate and Identify Underground Nuclear Tests

New research will help international inspectors locate and identify a clandestine underground nuclear explosions (UNEs) site within a 1,000 square kilometer search area during an on-site inspection that could be carried out under the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. HSNW >>

Stolen Radioactive Material Hunted in ISIS-Ravaged Iraq: Officials

Iraq is searching for potentially deadly radioactive material that was stolen late last year, officials said. The material was contained in an industrial radiography device that vanished in November, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) told NBC News on Wednesday. Its disappearance has raised fears the material could fall into the hands of ISIS fighters who control parts of the country. NBC News >>

Chemical & Biological Threats

Pueblo Chemical Depot Set for Phase Two of Destroying Chemical Weapons

The Pueblo Chemical Depot is set to destroy the bulk of its chemical weapons. Last week, the depot said it already destroyed 560 faulty weapons. Workers will now wait for their destruction plant to open to destroy the more than 750,000 other shells. The depot is hoping to have the plant open by June to continue its mission. Site project manager Greg Mohrman said he’s happy to destroy the chemical weapons to make the world a safer place. KRDO >>

U.S. Troops in Iraq Move Into Region Where ISIS Just Used Mustard Gas

U.S. troops in Iraq are setting up a train-advise-and-assist team at a forward operating base near the Islamic State group’s front lines outside of Mosul, not far from the site of recent chemical weapons attacks. The Nineveh Operations Center in the farming village of Makhmour will be a primary base for the U.S. to support the Iraqis’ long-awaited battle to seize Mosul from Islamic State militants, also known as ISIS or ISIL, a U.S. military official said. Military Times >>

Safely Packaging and Shipping Infectious Agents is Critical and Complex

If you have never been involved with preparing specimens or cultures to transport for diagnosis or further testing, you may not realize all that goes into packaging and shipping patient samples and cultures properly before transporting them out of your facility. APHL LabLog >>

Health Security

Fukushima Disaster: Children Cancer Rates Rise with 16 New Cases

The number of children from Fukushima confirmed with thyroid cancer has risen to 116, following a recent spate of new diagnoses in the nuclear crisis-hit region. Sixteen children living in the north-east prefecture of Japan have been confirmed as additional news cases of thyroid cancer, while a further 35 are suspected of having the disease, according to media reports. The Telegraph >>

Radioactive Waste

Predicting Clay Swelling for Better Nuclear Waste Disposal

Bentonite clay is planned to be used as a key barrier in the deep geological disposal of high-level nuclear waste. To ensure the safety of disposal, it is crucial to understand and predict the swelling behavior of bentonite clay. The swelling property, however, is regulated by multiple structural and environmental factors. A new spring model developed at the University of Eastern Finland simulates the atomic-level interactions among the components of clay-water system, reproducing the swelling trends and swelling pressures measured by experiments with good accuracy. HSNW >>

Upcoming Events

Notable Chem-Bio-Nuc-Rad Contracts

Spectrum Photonics Awarded Standoff Chemical Detection Contract

Chem-Bio-Rad-Nuc Notable Contracts

MRIGlobal Awarded Field Forward Diagnostic Contract