Bomb X-Ray Technology, ISIL’s Crude Chemical Weapons, Russia’s New NBC Vehicles

Topics in this issue include extension of the Syria Chemical Weapons inspection mandate, a review of the 1st AML’s Ebola outbreak deployment, and landmine-detecting drones.

In This Article


UN Extends Mandate of Syria Chemical Weapons Inspectors

Inspectors charged with determining who is behind chemical weapons attacks in Syria will have another year to do their work after the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to approve a one-year extension of their mandate Thursday. NY Times >>

3 Hurt, Town Without Water After Kansas Chemical Plant Explosion

Three people are hurt after a large explosion at a Neodesha, Kansas chemical plant fire which is about an hour north of Bartlesville. The plant makes and packages aerosol products, which are highly flammable. News on 6 >>

‘Crude’ IS Chemical Weapons Could Wreak Havoc on Mosul

The increasing likelihood Islamic State terror group fighters battling to retain control of the key Iraqi city of Mosul will start relying on chemical weapons is adding to fears of a humanitarian catastrophe. For the most part, U.S. military and intelligence officials have described IS’s chemical weapons arsenal as “crude.” They say much of it relies on chlorine gas or sulfur mustard, in powdered form, which is added to artillery shells and rockets. Voice of America >>

Report: Islamic State Has Used Chemical Weapons 52 Times in Iraq and Syria since 2014

The Islamic State has used chemical agents 52 times in Iraq and Syria since 2014, according to a new report published Tuesday. The report, put out by IHS Markit, an information analytics company, and IHS Conflict Monitor, a subsidiary of IHS that uses open-source information to gather data from war zones, also warned of the increasing likelihood the extremist group will use chemical weapons as it retreats from the city of Mosul. Washington Post >>

Watchdog Probing Over 20 Reports of Alleged Syria Chemical Attacks

The global watchdog tasked with destroying chemical weapons is probing more than 20 reports of the alleged use of toxic arms in Syria since August. Experts with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons also believe the so-called Islamic State group may have itself manufactured mustard gas used in attacks in Syria and Iraq, the body’s director general Ahmet Uzumcu said. AFP/Yahoo >>


Modeling Megacity Medical System Response to a CBRNE Event

The collaborative effectiveness of the public health system and the Army Medical Department (AMEDD) is limited in the case of a 10-kiloton nuclear event on a megacity due to an overall lack of knowledge and understanding among agencies. This study details an exhaustive analysis of the current medical response system using New York City as a case study. Industrial and Systems Engineering Review >>

Compression Strategies for Chemometric Analysis of Mass Spectrometry Imaging Data

Application of chemometric methods to mass spectrometry imaging data faces a bottleneck concerning the vast size of the experimental data sets. This drawback is critical when considering high-resolution mass spectrometry data, which provide several thousand points for each considered pixel. In this work, different approaches have been tested to reduce the size of the analyzed data with the aim to allow the subsequent application of typical chemometric methods for image analysis. Spectroscopy Now >>

Lung Inflammation Caused by Inhaled Toxicants: A Review

From aerosolized ricin, to asbestos or cigarette smoke, exposure of the lungs to airborne toxicants induce the recruitment and activation of macrophages, activation of mitogen-activated protein kinases, inhibition of protein synthesis, and production of interleukin-1 beta. NCBI >>

The Effect of Natural Organic Matter on Plutonium Sorption to Goethite

The effect of citric acid (CA), Desferrioxamine B (DFOB), fulvic acid (FA), and humic acid (HA) on plutonium (Pu) sorption to goethite was studied as a function of organic carbon concentration and pH using batch sorption experiments. Environmental Science & Technology >>


Air Force Bomb Squad to Protect Trump’s Florida Mansion

The U.S. Air Force’s elite bomb squad will be helping to secure President-elect Donald Trump’s compound in Florida in the months ahead. The Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight of the 96th Civil Engineer Group at the base — the largest and the busiest of all the service’s EOD units — “have a couple missions already scheduled to go and support him for some … holidays before he takes the oath,” said Chief Master Sgt. Christopher Schott, the group’s superintendent. >>

Sandia Team Revolutionizes Bomb X-Ray Technology

Jake Deuel, Justin Garretson and Scott Gladwell are quickly becoming bomb technicians’ best friends. The trio of Sandia National Laboratories researchers has developed a software package that greatly reduces the amount of time a bomb tech spends determining what’s inside the “package” they’ve been called to examine. It also speeds up the process the techs use to disarm a potentially lethal bomb. Albuquerque Journal >>

Florida: WWII Bomb found in Tallahassee Detonated, Original Source Still Uncertain

The World War II bomb was found at a construction site, and led to an evacuation of the College Town area for hours. Military officials say the device that was detonated might have been as old as the 1930s. Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City sent a team of four to detonate the bomb. WCTV >>

Afghanistan Kabul Mosque Suicide Attack Kills Dozens

Many more were wounded in the blast at an annual Shia ceremony at the Baqir ul Olum mosque in the west of the city. The attacker arrived on foot and blew himself up among worshippers inside. ISIS claimed responsibility for the blast, the latest of several recent attacks on Afghanistan’s Shia community claimed by the Sunni Muslim militant group. BBC News >>

Land-Mine-Detecting Drones Put to the Test

A U.K. university is hoping to sell Cambodia its first fleet of unmanned drones and rovers for clearing land mines, sending a team to Pursat province last week for a test run. The equipment, designed at the University of Central Lancashire, could potentially make the slow, dangerous work of clearing land mines faster, safer and cheaper, said Phal Simorn, a deputy director of the Defense Ministry’s National Center for Peacekeeping, Mines and Explosive Remnants of War Clearance (NPMEC). Cambodia Daily >>

Long After ISIS Collapses, Its Empire of Explosives Will Reign

The trickiest part of the bombs ISIS has left behind, across thousands of square miles of Iraq and Syria, isn’t just their sometimes unconventional looks. “The coverage area appears to be huge swaths of the territory and growing all the time. The density is high, as well” says Ed Rowe, a program manager for Norwegian People’s Aid, a humanitarian group putting together an IED clearance and risk education program in Iraq. “The level of sophistication seems to be increasing, and they’re definitely targeting the clearance teams.” Wired >>


Deployment of the 1st AML in a Split-Based Configuration During the Largest Ebola Outbreak in History

The U.S. Army 1st Area Medical Laboratory is currently the only deployable medical CBRNE laboratory in the Army’s Forces Command. The team deployed in Oct 2014 in support of Operation United Assistance, bringing unique molecular diagnostic capabilities to the mission. This paper outlines the planning, training, and logistics considerations involved in the deployment. PubMed >>

What a Nuclear Response Team Looks Like

The Canadian Joint Incident Response Unit (CJIRU) is probably one of the most unique in Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM). Yes, one of these kids is not like the others. Like a lot of the operators who serve in it, CJIRU seems to have always been the odd man out, a small but vitally necessary and distinct capability. SOFPREP >>

New Vehicles for Russian NBC Troops

The Russian Ministry of Defence announced on 11 November that the Nuclear, Biological, Chemical (NBC) Protection regiment of the Eastern military district is being equipped with new multi-purpose decontamination vehicles. Shepard >>

44th Civil Support Team Conducts Interagency Training with Coast Guard

Soldiers and Airmen of the Florida National Guard’s 44th Civil Support Team joined forces with members of the United States Coast Guard’s Gulf Strike Team and the Broward County Fire Rescue in a joint effort to develop interagency cohesion while responding to mock CBRNE threats on in Fort Lauderdale. DVIDS >>

Team 19 Conducts Combined Decontamination Exercise with ROK Army

The 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command conducted a combined decontamination exercise with the Republic of Korea 2nd Operational Command as a part of the Reception, Staging, and Onward Movement Field Exercise at Camp Carroll, Nov. 17. The decontamination exercise was incorporated into the RSO FTX to simulate a CBRN attack. The exercise trained Soldiers on the proper wear and use of equipment. >>

India Commissions New Stealth Warship

The Indian Navy commissioned its latest warship, the stealth guided missile destroyer INS Chennai, at a ceremony held at the Mazagon naval dockyards in Mumbai on November 21. “The ship is equipped to fight under Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) warfare conditions,” the MoD press release notes. The Diplomat >>


How DNA Evidence Confirmed a Soviet Cover-Up of an Anthrax Accident

It was, they said, contaminated meat. In April of 1979, people in the Soviet city of Sverdlovsk began falling mysteriously ill: fevers, coughs, vomiting. At least 66 people died. When officials came 1,000 miles from Moscow to investigate, they concluded the victims had fallen ill from eating cattle infected with anthrax. It was not contaminated meat. It was an accident at a clandestine biological weapons lab that allowed deadly anthrax spores to contaminate Sverdlovsk’s air, as evidence unearthed later would show. The Atlantic >>

Obama Advisers Urge Action Against CRISPR Bioterror Threat

Scientific advisers to President Obama warn that the U.S. urgently needs a new biodefense strategy for the dangers posed by new technologies like CRISPR, gene therapy, and synthetic DNA, which they say could be co-opted by terrorists. MIT Technology Review >>

Biosafety Company Seeks Improved Regulation of Bioscience Laboratories

One credentialed biological safety professional to 100 labs in the United States. That’s the ratio Dr. Craig Reed, whose company performs biosafety and biosecurity risk assessments, can explain adequately on the back of a cocktail napkin. He said the gap may actually be 10 times greater but it’s a little more challenging to defend those numbers. “One to one thousand or one to one hundred — either way, there are simply not enough biosafety professionals,” he said. “This country creates thousands of biological scientists each year but precious few biological safety professionals. There is a massive gap, and I fear it may be widening.” Frederick News Post >>


Opinion: Renewed Mobilization to Reduce the Danger from Nuclear Weapons

There is widespread concern that President-elect Trump may not be a thoughtful, cautious custodian of the US nuclear “button.” This concern highlights the absurdity of giving one person the authority to order the launch US nuclear weapons, an action that could well result in the end of our civilization. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists >>

Trump’s National Security Picks Want to Air Obama’s Iran Secrets

For years, many Republicans and conservatives have charged that President Barack Obama was shielding embarrassing intelligence and policy details about Iran in order to support the nuclear deal reached last year. With Donald Trump’s upset victory, the party of Lincoln will have an opportunity to declassify and disclose this information. Bloomberg >>

Why Saddam and Gaddafi Failed to Get the Bomb

Imagine if Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi had nuclear weapons in 2003. The invasion of Iraq may not have been possible, and states would have been much more reluctant to bomb Libya in 2011. The Middle East would be a very different place today. As it happens, both leaders had sought nuclear weapons for decades, but neither got the bomb. Why? War on the Rocks >>


Judge Denies State Request for Increased Hanford Vapor Protections

A federal judge has denied the state of Washington’s request for increased protections for Hanford workers while a lawsuit against the Department of Energy and its tank farm contractor is heard. Hanford workers already are protected by a requirement that supplied air respirators be used within the tank farms — areas where waste is stored in underground tanks at the nuclear reservation, said U.S. Judge Thomas Rice. Tri-City Herald >>

Veteran Hopes to Help Others Exposed to Agent Orange

The VA says more than 19 million gallons of various herbicide combinations were sprayed during the Vietnam conflict, but Agent Orange was far and away used most often. “Everyone associates chemical weaponry with the Army,” says Vietnam veteran Larry Kerr. “But the Air Force had chemicals in bombs, artillery heads, and they had them in sprayer systems on the aircraft. We were dealing with a lot of bad, bad stuff.” Military Times >>

Missouri Home Contaminated by Wartime Radioactive Waste, Lawsuit Says

A Missouri couple says their home is contaminated with dangerously high levels of radioactive waste left over from the US government’s second world war-era atomic weapons program. In a lawsuit filed in the St Louis County circuit court on Tuesday, Robbin and Mike Dailey of Bridgeton say dust samples collected from their kitchen and basement were found to contain the radioactive element thorium-230 at levels about 200 times higher than normal “background” levels. The Guardian >>


Connecticut: Lab Closed After Chemical Release at Boehringer Ingelheim

Crews from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection have responded to Boehringer Ingelheim, a pharmaceutical company on the Danbury-Ridgefield line, after chemicals were released in a lab there. The part of the facility where the lab is located is closed, according to state environment officials. NBC CT >>

California: 1,550 Gallons of Fuel Spill at Naval Base

A hazardous-materials incident Friday morning at Naval Base Ventura County Point Mugu was contained at about 1,550 gallons of aircraft fuel, officials said. Base residents were temporarily evacuated as a precautionary measure. Ventura County Star >>

Toronto: Scarborough Building Evacuated for Suspicious Package Damp with ‘Black Fluid’

A Scarborough building was evacuated and emergency services were sent to the scene after a suspicious package postmarked from Thailand was received at a Canada Pension Plan office. After it was opened, a “strong odor” filled several floors of the building. A CBRNE team responded to collect the package and clear the scene. CBC News >>


Unique Program Helps Veterans Become CNS Engineers

Through the program, veterans are provided with part-time employment, mentoring, support and work experience in their chosen field while pursuing their bachelor’s degree in a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) discipline. Upon completion of their STEM degree, they convert to full-time employees. Y12 National Security Complex >>

Highlights from CBRNe World Convergence

CBRNe industry figures showcased the latest technologies and protection and detection equipment at the Convergence in San Diego. Several new products were launched live at the show, including a casualty isolation unit, a handheld networked radiation detector, and a mobile gas chromatograph mass spectrometer for chemical threat identification. Global Biodefense >>


How the World Reached the Brink of Nuclear War Not Once But Twice in 1983

In the autumn of 1983, at the height of Cold War tensions, the world was only saved from nuclear disaster by the gut feelings of two soldiers during different incidents. In the first incident, on September 26, a Soviet lieutenant colonel named Stanislav Petrov saw that according to the early-warning system, the Americans had launched numerous missiles against the Russians. He suspected an error and ignored the warnings. His decision to breach protocol and not inform his superiors averted a panicked retaliation. The Conversation >>

Mustard Gas: A Legacy of WWI

A so-called vesicant agent officially identified as bis-(2-chloroethyl)sulfide, mustard gas has also been dubbed Yperite because it was first used near the northwestern Belgian city of Ypres in July 1917 by the German army in WWI. German troops had already experimented with a chlorine-based gas in the area on April 22, 1915. Masks made to protect against chlorine agents were useless because mustard gas penetrated them and attacked the skin. Yahoo News >>

The Most Significant Invention of the 20th Century? The Haber-Bosch Process

Haber’s wife Clara was the first woman to gain a doctorate in chemistry in Germany. Once married to Haber, she was not encouraged to continue her research, and whenever she did give a lecture it was assumed he must have written it for her. Later, Clara pleaded with her husband to stop his pioneering work devising chemical weapons for the German government. In 1915, after chlorine was used to gas allied troops at Ypres, she took his gun and killed herself. The Spectator >>

Weapons of War Litter the Ocean Floor

Experts estimate that one million tonnes of chemical weapons lie on the ocean floor—from Italy’s Bari harbor, where 230 sulfur mustard exposure cases have been reported since 1946, to the US east coast, where sulfur mustard bombs have shown up three times in the past twelve years in Delaware, likely brought in with loads of shellfish. “It’s a global problem. It’s not regional, and it’s not isolated,” says Terrance Long, chair of the International Dialogue on Underwater Munitions (IDUM), a Dutch foundation based in The Hague, Netherlands. Hakai Magazine >>

A Lingering, Deadly Legacy of Wars: Unexploded Bombs

Since 1975, more than 40,000 Vietnamese are believed to have been killed and about 60,000 others maimed by what is known as unexploded ordnance — land mines, artillery shells, cluster bombs and the like that failed to detonate decades ago. Quang Tri Province alone, along the border that once divided Vietnam into North and South, is said to have been more heavily bombed than all of Germany was in World War II. NY Times >>

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