CBRN Officer Fellowships, 9/11 Responder Healthcare, Preparedness Report Card

Topics in this issue include best practices for management of explosive incidents, IAEA Radiation Safety Standards Committee highlights, and this year’s Preparedness Report Card.

In This Article


Mexico Fireworks Market Explosion Leaves 35 Dead

For years, families have wandered through rows of stalls at San Pablito, searching for fireworks to launch during holiday season celebrations. Now, forensic teams are combing through the charred rubble, searching for victims’ remains. At least 35 people were killed and dozens more were injured in a massive series of explosions Tuesday at this market north of Mexico City, officials said. CNN >>

Management of Explosive Incidents: Summary of Best Practices

The project was conducted by the University Center for Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Response at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. The project team compiled information from open-source publications and from subject matter experts reflecting the US military experience in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Annals of Emergency Medicine >>

Authorities Probing if Florida Man Has Ties to Terrorism

A joint terrorism task force is investigating whether a 21-year-old man has connections to terrorism after he was arrested at the New Port Richey, Florida home he shares with his parents. His mother called deputies to ask them to check out suspicious fumes she said were in her home. The sheriff’s office says “suspicious materials” were in Elganainy’s bedroom, and the man became violent when confronted. WPTV >>

Smiths Detection Opens New Trace Detection Center of Excellence

The new UK centre of excellence for trace detection, is located in Hemel Hempstead, approximately 11 miles from its previous location in Watford, and provides improved and more efficient customer operations; new amenities for employees; and the opportunity for future growth and development. Government Security News >>

Afghan Brothers Develop Drone to Clear Land Mines

As boys growing up on the outskirts of the Afghan capital, Mahmud Hassani and his brother Massoud saw firsthand the damage land mines did to anyone unlucky enough to stumble across them. It was the memory of the destruction caused by land mines left over from the 1980s — when Afghan rebels fought Soviet forces — that inspired the brothers to develop a drone prototype to detect and destroy the explosive devices. Voice of America >>


Could Trump’s Tweets Spark a Nuclear Arms Race?

Donald Trump tweeted something controversial today. After Twitter controversies involving Boeing, terror attacks, and former President Bill Clinton, Trump has directed his attention towards the American nuclear arsenal.  Thursday morning, Trump tweeted that “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.” Foreign Policy >>

Congress Surprises Science Community by Passing Research Bill

A research bill that science advocates thought had died when Congress left for the holidays was unexpectedly revived on Dec. 16 when the House of Representatives passed it by unanimous consent in absentia. The American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (S. 3084) is the newest iteration of the America Competes Act, which expired in 2013. The Senate passed the legislation earlier this month, and President Barack Obama is expected to sign it. Chemical & Engineering News >>

Preparedness Report Card Notes State, National Gaps and Gains

The Zika virus outbreak and related funding delay highlight gaps in preparing for and responding to emerging disease threats, according an annual preparedness snapshot release today detailing state indicators and overall national trends and policies. CIDRAP >>

Letter from Members of Congress Objecting to Trump Transition DOE Questionnaire

“Such questions about DOE lab staff are worrisome because they suggest there may be attempts by the incoming Administration to retaliate against them or defund their work, even if blame for the questionnaire is now said to rest with a reportedly “rogue” transition team employee. Regardless of one’s views on climate change, it is simply inappropriate to target hard-working public servants simply for doing their jobs.” >>

Trump: U.S. Must ‘Strengthen and Expand’ Nuclear Capability

President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday advocated for the expansion of U.S. nuclear capabilities, employing broad language in discussing a complicated and dangerous subject that his opponents in the presidential election used as an argument for why he’s unfit to serve as commander-in-chief. Trump did not offer an explanation for the timing of his statement, but it followed a meeting of senior national security officials he and his staff convened Wednesday at his Mar-A-Lago resort in Florida. US News >>

A Lesson for Rick Perry: The Department of Energy Doesn’t Produce Much Energy

A former governor of Texas — the state that produces more crude oil, lignite coal, natural gas, refined petroleum products, and wind power than any other — would seem to be a natural choice for secretary of energy. Yet, assuming he is confirmed by the Senate, Rick Perry will face a paradox. Foreign Policy >>

Pre-War Intelligence on Iraq: Wrong or Hyped by Bush White House?

Donald Trump’s staff dismissed U.S. intelligence conclusions that Russia actively interfered in the presidential election by noting the flawed intelligence cited by the Bush administration in making the case for invading Iraq nearly 14 years ago. An alternative perspective came from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who pinned the blame on the Bush White House for misrepresenting the intelligence. Stars & Stripes >>

Arms Control in the Age of Trump: Lessons from the Nuclear Freeze Movement

At this very moment, the United States and Russia are locked in a nuclear embrace. Our collective fates — and those of the rest of the world — are entangled in a mesh of ballistic missiles, nuclear submarines, and strategic bombers. Together, the US and Russia control more than 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons. Medium >>


Pursuing Recovery of Misappropriated Nuclear Goods

This study proposes to outlaw state-sponsored illicit nuclear-procurement programs through the accretion of declarations by international and multilateral bodies condemning this conduct and expressing the intention to consider punitive measures in future cases where this conduct is observed. With illicit procurement activities often serving as an early indication of a clandestine nuclear-weapon program, establishing this activity as an offense against international norms would set the stage for early, concerted action against the next offending state, well before its nuclear program might approach its goal. Middlebury Institute >>

U.S. Looks for Potential Issues Linked to Falsified French Nuclear Documents

U.S. nuclear regulators are investigating whether the suspected falsification of documents at French nuclear power company Areva SA, which supplies components for reactors globally, poses any problems at U.S. nuclear plants. Reuters >>

Outcome from the IAEA Radiation Safety Standards Committee

The meeting included a short seminar on Implementation of the International Basic Safety Standards. Key challenge areas have been identified through a series of regional workshops, and this has clearly influenced the IAEA program for developing guidance material. Topics include medical exposure generally, eye lens dose, radon in homes, NORM industries and security screening and non-medical imaging. IRPA >>

IAEA Meets to Strengthen Security as USA Disposes of Plutonium

The U.S has asked the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to monitor and verify the disposition of surplus plutonium in South Carolina, US energy secretary Ernest Moniz said on 5 December. The DOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced earlier this year that the 6 tonnes of plutonium at Savannah River would be dispositioned using the ‘dilute and dispose’ approach. This entails blending the plutonium oxide with an adulterant, which reduces the concentration of the plutonium and makes it harder to extract a purified material, rendering it unattractive from a nuclear proliferation point of view. World Nuclear News >>

Morale Improving, But Sustainment Problems Still Dog Air Force’s Nuclear Enterprise

Years after several scandals shook the US Air Force’s nuclear enterprise to its core, measures put in place to bolster morale, better equip airmen, and improve training and testing seem to be taking effect. But operators at the missile bases say there is still work to be done, particularly with regard to sustaining the aging missile-launch facilities that are becoming more difficult and expensive to maintain. Defense News >>

Iran Says it Will Build Nuclear-Powered Warships—But it Probably Won’t

The president of Iran has reportedly ordered his country to begin developing nuclear-powered warships. The order is reportedly in response to the extension of sanctions by the U.S. Congress, but there’s good reason to believe this is just bluster, and more than Iran’s military-industrial complex can truly provide. Popular Mechanics >>

Outpacing Cyber Threats: Priorities for Cybersecurity at Nuclear Facilities

The past decade has seen unprecedented progress in the security of nuclear materials and facilities. As key improvements to physical security have been implemented, however, a threat that is potentially even more challenging is endangering these gains: the cyber threat. NTI >>


“Avatar” Exoskeleton Developed for Hazmat Clean-Up

Korean Future Technology has built a 13-foot-tall mechanical outfit, named Method-1, that amplifies the movements of its operator. The suit’s articulated arms and legs let it manipulate objects and walk on flat surfaces. Construction Equipment >>

Pb Isotopic Analysis of a Nuclear Fallout Debris Particle from the Trinity Nuclear Test

The Pb isotope composition of a nuclear fallout debris particle has been directly measured in post-detonation materials produced during the Trinity nuclear test by a secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) scanning ion image technique. Analytical Chemistry >>

DHS Awards 13 Companies Spots on Agile Contracting Vehicle

The Department of Homeland Security is a step closer to popularizing agile software development with its new contracting vehicle, Flexible Agile Support for the Homeland, or FLASH. DHS has awarded 13 companies a spot on the vehicle designed to pre-vet businesses specializing in agile methodologies, including rapidly spinning out and testing basic prototypes and breaking large technology projects into smaller chunks, completed in development “sprints.” Nextgov >>

$2.6B Contract Awarded for Sandia National Labs Management

A subsidiary of Honeywell International has won a contract worth $2.6 billion to manage the sprawling New Mexico-based Sandia National Laboratories weapons and research laboratory that specializes in national security, nuclear weapons and other projects deemed vital for the U.S., federal officials announced Friday. Northrup Grumman and Universities Research Association will support the Honeywell subsidiary in managing Sandia National Laboratories. Seattle Times >>


‘It’s There to Help:’ Jon Stewart Urges 9/11 Responders to Sign Up for Zadroga Act Care

Around 75,000 people with 9/11-related illnesses have been given health care coverage due to the Zadroga Act, but health experts say there are likely tens of thousands more who could be getting help. The bill is named for James Zadroga, a NYPD officer who died of a 9/11-related illness. Components of the bill were shut down in October 2015, as Congress debated extending the bill, then later funded through 2090. A health screening to see if someone is eligible for coverage is free. Visit this website for more information. CBS New York >>

New Report Addresses Volunteer Firefighters’ Safety and Health Issues

A new report from the U.S. Fire Administration and the National Volunteer Fire Council aims to help volunteer departments nationwide address several important issues. Titled “Critical Health and Safety Issues in the Volunteer Fire Service,” the report addresses topics that range from the culture to recruitment and retention, funding, personal health, and safety protocols. Occupational Health & Safety >>

Local Health Professional Helps First Responders Deal with Stress

It’s been a stressful year for all of us, but especially our local first responders. Many have experienced the devastation of the Woodmore bus crash, perform rescues after severe weather and spent weeks fighting wildfires, like Red Bank firefighter Zach Quintrell. WRCB Chattanooga >>

Opioids, Fentanyl and the Threat to First Responders

“Obviously this takes a toll mentally and physically on everybody working down there. Seeing people on the verge of dying repeatedly throughout your day and in some cases the same people overdosing on back-to-back days is hard to comprehend for anybody. The stress is wearing visibly on our staff and we are at a breaking point on how much volume of these calls the current number of firefighters staffed at that hall can bear.” The Tyee >>


Local Communities Struggle to Recruit Enough Firefighters

Beside fires, the list of duties modern departments have been tasked with includes medical emergencies, terrorist events, natural disasters, hazardous materials incidents, water rescue emergencies, high-angle and confined space emergencies and other general public service calls. Emergency Management >>

CBRN Officer Fellowships

The Army is working closely with Tufts University, Medford, Maine, and Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, to establish dedicated fellowships for CBRN officers. Once established, two officers in the rank of captain or major will be chosen to participate in the CBRN fellowships at these schools. The course of study will center on diplomacy, counter-proliferation, and the development of enterprise-based solutions to complex problems. Interested officers should contact their U.S. Army Human Resources Command assignments officer for more information. Army Chemical Review >>

Crime Scene Cleanup Group Offering Virtual Reality Training Sessions for Handling Hazardous Materials

The National Crime Scene Cleanup Association has announced plans to offer a VR Training software designed to teach professionals courses on how to properly and safely clean up everything from blood borne pathogens, bodily fluids, chemical spills and viruses/bacteria – without ever being in harm’s way. Government Security News >>


Palmyra: ‘Chemical Gas Attack’ Hits IS-Held Syrian Area

Dozens of people have been killed in air strikes and a suspected gas attack near the Syrian city of Palmyra, monitoring groups say. The targeted area is controlled by the so-called Islamic State group and has been under heavy bombardment from government-aligned forces. BBC >>

3D-Printed Dog Nose Improves Chemical Detection Devices

Researchers at NIST 3D-printed an anatomical replica of a dog’s nose, creating a sensor that sheds light on why our cute canine companions have unparalleled sniffers—particularly, why dogs’ ability to sense vapors enables them to detect everything from bombs to pathogens. Wireless Design Magazine >>

Corpus Christi Chemical Leak Reported Earlier Than Thought

A chemical leak from an asphalt plant that led Corpus Christi officials to warn residents last week not to drink tap water was apparently reported a week earlier, according to an email from a state environmental official.  “Obviously we are concerned about that initial report, that this may have been known for seven days and it may have been going on for that long.” NY Times >>


Work on the Porton Science Park Is Well Under Way

Work is under way to create a state-of-the-art science park near Salisbury. The first phase of the multi-million pound Porton Science Park Salisbury has started and will deliver a new science incubator and grow-on space for science and technology businesses. The park will be situated alongside Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and Public Health England (PHE) Porton, providing opportunities for sharing expertise and research. Salisbury Journal >>

CBRN Assistance and Capacity-Building Programs for African States

This directory is designed as a dynamic document to support capacity-building efforts on the African continent. It aims to provide an overview of existing assistance and capacity-building programs available for African states in the chemical, biological, nuclear and radiological fields. It also provides a brief description of assistance activities, identifies relevant points of contact and lists specific projects or programs related to Africa and African states. ISS Africa >>

Downing Appointed to Texas Forensic Science Commission

Nancy Downing, PhD, RN, SANE-A, associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Nursing was recently appointed to the Texas Forensic Science Commission by Governor Greg Abbot. Downing, one of several new or newly appointed commissioners, is believed to be the first forensic nurse and forensic nurse educator to serve on the commission. Vital Record >>

2016-17 Critical Issues Forum Focuses on CTBT

The 2016-17 Critical Issues Forum (CIF) kicked off with an online teachers’ workshop at the end of November. This year’s topic, “Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and its Role for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons,” is particularly timely as 2016 marks the twentieth anniversary of the treaty’s opening for signature. Middlebury Institute >>


In 1968, a B-52 Bomber Crashed – With 4 Nuclear Weapons Onboard That ‘Exploded’

Throughout the 1950s and ’60s American bombers carrying nuclear weapons crisscrossed the globe, ready at a moment’s notice to fly into the heart of Russia and bomb it back to the stone age. Strategic Air Command — a now defunct branch of the U.S. Air Force — commanded this airborne alert force. National Interest >>

In 2005, a U.S. Navy Submarine Ran Into a Mountain

The nuclear attack submarine USS San Francisco suddenly stopped dead in its tracks. The ship’s crew were thrown about, some over distances of 20 feet, and the majority of the 137-member crew suffered one injury or another—including one that would later prove fatal. Further inspection would explain what happened, and reveal that the submarine’s bow looked like a crushed soda can. USS San Francisco had run into an undersea mountain. Popular Mechanics >>

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Notable Defense Contracts in CBRNE

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