Detecting Uranium, Chemical Safety Board Elimination, 3M Acquisition of Scott Safety

Topics in this issue of CBRNE Particles include a letter bombing of the International Monetary Fund, laser detection of weapons-grade uranium, and the possible elimination of the Chemical Safety Board.

In This Article


Letter Bomb Injures Worker at International Monetary Fund Office in Paris

A letter bomb exploded in the Paris offices of the International Monetary Fund on Thursday, lightly wounding one person and prompting the French authorities to announce an investigation of the incident as a possible terrorist attack. NY Times >>

Package Found at German Finance Ministry Contained Explosives: Police

A suspicious package found at the German Finance Ministry in Berlin on Wednesday contained explosives, police said, adding that the item was found in an area where mail is processed. A spokeswoman for the ministry declined to comment, saying an investigation was underway. “The first investigation results show that the package contained a so-called explosives mixture, which is frequently used to produce pyrotechnics. It was designed to cause considerable injuries when the package was opened,” police said in a statement. Reuters >>

Explosives, Guns Found Inside Apartment on Indianapolis’ Northeast Side

Guns and explosives were found inside an Indianapolis apartment Tuesday evening, according to officers with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. Police were called to the scene for reports of a shot fired, and found a large number of explosives, guns and gas masks inside the apartment while investigating the incident. RTV6 Indianapolis >>

K-9 Search Company Loses Explosives in Oak Ridge

The company said a small cotton bag containing an explosive substance used for training likely went missing during transit on Scarboro Road between Bethel Valley Road and Illinois Avenue. The company notified the Oak Ridge Police Department and federal authorities after discovering the substance was missing Friday evening. Knoxville News Sentinel >>

Nebraska: Rifles, Explosives and Swords Found During Drug Raid

Two homemade explosive devices were found in a garage outside a house on a rural road just east of Highway 77 in eastern Saunders County. Bomb techs defused a car rigged with a wire leading to the gas tank. The devices were moved to a safe area and detonated by Nebraska State Patrol bomb experts. 1101 News Now >>

UK: Feltwell Man Jailed for Boughton Doctors Surgery Explosives

A man with a “fascination for explosives” has been jailed for posting three homemade bombs through the letterbox of his doctors’ surgery. Ozzie Welsh, 40, sent the explosives to Boughton Surgery, near King’s Lynn, Norfolk, in January 2016 after a disagreement about his prescription. BBC News >>

Army Corps Aims to Study South Kohala for Explosives

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will soon begin work to determine the extent of munitions and explosives of concern remaining from military training and on more than 1,900 acres on Kohala Mountain’s flanks. To date, more than 100 different types of munitions have been found within the maneuver area, including mortars, projectiles, hand grenades, rockets, land mines and Japanese ordnances. Corps contractors working with metal detectors have removed thousands of pounds of munitions debris, and 2,400 pieces of ordnance from more than 28,000 acres over decades of cleanup. Munitions and explosives continue to be found. The land is within the Former Waikoloa Maneuver Area, an area that covers 123,000 acres on Hawaii Island’s northwest side of the Big Island and served as a military camp and artillery range for thousands of troops between 1943 and 1945. West Hawaii Today >>

California: New Explosives Sniffing Dog on County Bomb Squad

At first glance, Boomer the golden retriever is pretty typical of his breed — long silky coat, soft brown eyes, floppy ears and the sweet and gentle demeanor the breed is known for. But looks can be deceiving, for while Boomer is all of those things, he is also a fearsome weapon in the fight for public safety. Sonoma West Times >>

30 Killed After Suicide Bombers Strike Syrian Capital

At least 30 people have died after suicide bombers hit the main judicial building and a restaurant in the Syrian capital Damascus. The incidents, in which 45 other people were hurt, spread fear across the city as the country’s civil war entered its seventh year with no end in sight. Belfast Telegraph >>


Doctors ‘100 Percent Sure’ Chemical Weapons Used Near Mosul

The exposure apparently came as the result of several mortar or rocket attacks in east Mosul, which U.S.-backed Iraqi forces declared fully liberated in January after about 100 days of fighting. Intense combat continues in the half of the city west of the Tigris River, where government forces also have made significant gains. Stars & Stripes >>

Iraq Says ‘No Evidence’ Of Chemical Weapons Attacks in Mosul

Iraqi U.N. Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim said on Friday there was “no evidence” that Islamic State had used chemical weapons in Mosul, where the militants are fighting off an offensive by U.S.-backed Iraqi forces. The United Nations said last Saturday that 12 people, including women and children, had been treated for possible exposure to chemical weapons agents in Mosul since March 1. Reuters >>

Did North Korea’s Use of VX Nerve Agent Violate International Law?

In considering possible unilateral U.S. responses to DPRK’s use of a chemical weapon, some have speculated that the U.S. will reinstate DPRK’s status as a state sponsor of terrorism, thus imposing sanctions and conveying a hefty political statement—though the U.S. could otherwise impose sanctions on DPRK without making such a designation. Because VX nerve agent is listed as a Schedule 1 chemical under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), it’s reasonable to ask whether chemical weapons treaties can be leveraged against DPRK, and if not, what other international law mechanisms might be available. Lawfare >>

Cutting Chemical Safety Board Would Impact Red States Most

A White House proposal to abolish the U.S. Chemical Safety Board is a signal to the agency to operate more efficiently—but goes beyond what major industries want, say industry officials familiar with the agency. After years of criticism from groups on all sides under former Chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso, who resigned in 2015, industry and labor figures credit current Chairperson Vanessa Allen Sutherland for adding stronger procedures for conducting investigations and reducing a backlog of cases, among other changes. Under the Trump budget plan, CSB would shut down when its funding expires on Sept. 30. Bloomberg BNA >>

Trump’s Proposal to Scrap Chemical Safety Board Draws Criticism

The CSB investigates major chemicals accidents to search for their causes and makes recommendations that could prevent a recurrence. It has no regulatory power, but is influential because its recommendations are often adopted by industry, labor, government officials, the EPA and Occupational Safety and Health Administration The board’s reviews of major accidents have proved significant. Its probes have led to industry standards on worker fatigue, greater reporting of hazardous chemicals to first responders, and have prompted companies to keep workers not directly involved in projects out of harm’s way. KFGO >>


The Bomb Detective

There’s no cooler job title: Chief Explosives Scientist. The person who holds it, the FBI’s Kirk Yeager, spent decades in the field, examining tiny pieces of evidence, most of them partially destroyed, and working backward until he had a bomb, a bomb location, and, more often than not, clues that led to a suspect. “Imagine if you dump out a thousand-piece puzzle, throw out half the pieces, and light the other half on fire,” Yeager says. He’s good at burnt puzzles. Popular Mechanics >>

19th International Conference on Counterterrorism and Forensic Science Research

The March 23-24 conference aims to bring together leading academic scientists, researchers and research scholars to exchange and share their experiences and research results on all aspects of Counterterrorism and Forensic Science Research. It also provides a premier interdisciplinary platform for researchers, practitioners and educators to present and discuss the most recent innovations, trends, and concerns as well as practical challenges encountered and solutions adopted in the fields of Counterterrorism and Forensic Science Research. WASET >>

Weisz Selected for Hutcheon Fellowship

A Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) postdoc who was mentored by Lab scientist Ian Hutcheon has been named the first recipient of the Department of Homeland Security’s (link is external) (DHS) new fellowship that honors Hutcheon. David Weisz, who has worked at the Lab since August as a chemist in the Chemical and Isotopic Signatures Group, has been selected to receive the “Dr. Ian Hutcheon Post-Doctoral Fellowship.” The two-year fellowship, with a research grant of $300,000 for each year, is provided by the National Technical Nuclear Forensics Center (NTNFC) of the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office within DHS. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory >>


Lasers Can Detect Weapons-Grade Uranium from Afar

A technique for detecting enriched uranium with lasers could help regulators sniff out illicit nuclear activities from as far as a couple of miles away. It’s hard enough to identify nuclear materials when you can directly scan a suspicious suitcase or shipping container. But if you can’t get close? Now, the researchers have shown that a technique often used to identify chemicals at a distance can also distinguish between ordinary uranium-238 and the fission-prone uranium-235. Just three fewer neutrons make a big difference in the element’s potential for destruction. Phys.Org >>

Official Says Pakistan Promises Nuclear Arms Responsibility

Pakistan vowed on Tuesday to work to prevent non-nuclear states from gaining the technology that would put them on the path to acquiring nuclear weapons, even though both Islamabad and neighbor New Delhi have defied non-proliferation treaties to become competing nuclear powers. Voice of America >>

Radiation Hazard Scale – A Tool for Communication in Nuclear and Radiological Emergencies

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has developed the Radiation Hazard Scale as a tool for communication in emergencies. This tool provides a frame of reference for relative hazards of radiation and is designed for use only in radiation emergencies and is applicable for short-term exposure durations, for example, over a period of several days. CDC >>

Robotic Surveys Resume at Fukushima Daiichi 1

Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) is preparing to insert a Hitachi-developed robot into the primary containment vessel of the damaged unit 1 of the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Last month, a Toshiba-developed robot was used to survey the vessel of unit 2. The company wants to insert the PMORPH robot into unit 2 on 14-17 March to explore the basement area of the primary containment vessel around the pedestal, on which the reactor pressure vessel sits. The robot will take digital images and collect radiation data. World Nuclear News >>

Rex Tillerson Rejects Talks with North Korea on Nuclear Program

Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson ruled out on Friday opening any negotiation with North Korea to freeze its nuclear and missile programs and said for the first time that the Trump administration might be forced to take pre-emptive action “if they elevate the threat of their weapons program” to an unacceptable level. NY Times >>

Pathways to Cooperation: A Menu of Potential US-Russian Cooperative Projects in the Nuclear Sphere

The Nuclear Threat Initiative and the Russian-based Center for Energy and Security Studies have released a new report highlighting key projects in the nuclear sphere that the United States and Russia can take to innovate and build trust in the nuclear sphere. NTI >>


3M to Buy Scott Safety for $2 billion

The company will acquire Scott Safety from Johnson Controls for $2 billion in a deal that would make 3M the largest personal protection equipment maker in the nation. The deal announced Thursday will be the second largest acquisition in Maplewood-based 3M’s history and will greatly expand its worker safety product offerings, especially in breathing and gas detection devices. Star Tribune >>

UK: New Chemical Suits to Protect Firefighters Against Hazardous Materials

New coverall gas tight suits have been launched by the Brigade to help improve how crews respond at incidents involving hazardous materials and terrorism. The chemical protective clothing enables firefighters to go into areas that their normal firefighting protective equipment would not protect them from due to the risk of being exposed to potentially poisonous substances and could be used in the event of a terrorist chemical attack. London Fire Brigade >>


Dispersion and Fall Out of Heavier Particles

Nuclear accidents have so far been expected to release gasses and aerosols, but other CBRN events and also nuclear accidents with release of core particles can be expected to also release larger particles to the atmosphere. If not so large and heavy, that they fall to the ground immediately they may like gasses and aerosols be transported more or less far by the wind. The present paper focuses on the growth of plumes of such particles larger and heavier than aerosols and transported by the wind. Danish National Research Database >>

Seeing Eye Drones: How the DoD Can Transform CBRN And Disaster Response in the Homeland

The United States has an opportunity to harness emerging technology to increase responder safety and improve situational awareness for civil authorities during response to natural or manmade CBRN disasters. This thesis explores the possibility of integrating small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) with video capability and CBRN detection and identification sensors for use by National Guard civil support teams. Dudley Knox Library >>

Evaluation of Mass Casualty Life Support Course for CBRNE Incidents

The management of mass casualties induced by chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive incident (MCLS-CBRNE) and terrorist events requires special preparation to ensure safety and communication. This report introduces the first educational program targeting CBRNE incidents to be established in Japan that targets first responder. The MCLS-CBRNE contains four parts and ten modules (a lecture, a simulation drill, skills training and a test). The first MCLS-CBRNE course was held in Shizuoka Prefecture on May 22, 2016. SAS Journal of Medicine >>

Using Adaptive Modeling to Validate CBRN Response Enterprise Capabilities

This presentation describes how the Emergency and Disaster Management Simulation (EDMSIM) was applied in context to a multi-stakeholder collaborative structure, to determine the adequacy of the emergency response to an improvised nuclear detonation in a major metropolitan area. Semantics Scholar >>

Comparing the Impact of CBRN PPE on Performance of Advanced Life Support Interventions

This study compared the powered respiratory protective suit (PRPS ensemble) with a lightweight suit consisting of a SARATOGA® Multipurpose CBRN Protective Coverall Polyprotect 12 in conjunction with the Avon C50 Respirator/Avon CBRNF12CE filter canister and butyl rubber protective gloves (Polyprotect 12 ensemble). Wiley >>

Software Engineering in the Light of Evolving Standards in CBRN Disaster Management

Maintaining an automated military CBRN command information system that implements the requirements defined in evolving standards poses a challenge. In this paper we present the considerations regarding the design, the construction, and the testing aspects of software engineering as well as the choice of building blocks adopted in a recent rewrite of the system operated by the Austrian Armed Forces. IEEE >>


Watch These Declassified Nuclear Test Movies on YouTube

Between 1945 and 1962, the United States conducted over 200 nuclear tests up high in the atmosphere to learn about the power of nuclear weapons. The terrifying explosions were filmed from every possible angle and distance, and the movies — an estimated 10,000 of them — were then stored in high-security vaults scattered across the country. Now, for the first time, about 4,200 of the films have been scanned, and around 750 have been declassified by the US government. You can watch about 60 of them on YouTube. The Verge >>

U.S. Navy Film Reveals Crazy Cold War Chemical Weapons Plans

During the early years of the Cold War, the Pentagon heavily prepared to use — and defend against — new and improved poison and germ weapons. Now we have detailed look at those plans from a newly declassified 1952 U.S. Navy training film. Earlier in October 2015, the independent website posted an electronic copy of the footage. A private individual had requested the footage 15 years ago via the Freedom of Information Act. National Interest >>

You Can Do This: Firefighters in the Heat and Heart of the Community

“My career started when I was pretty young (I started volunteering at age 17), but that’s not to say it’s a requirement in firefighting. In fact, candidates with a bit more life experience are often favoured over younger applicants, and I’ve certainly benefited from the mentorship and guidance of my older peers. Our department serves a population of roughly 15,000 people over 353 square kilometres. We respond to everything from medical emergencies, to ice and water rescues, chemical spills, and the common kitchen fire. It definitely keeps me on my toes, but it’s rewarding to know I’m saving people’s lives and keeping the community safe.” Toronto Metro >>

If You See the Men in Hazmat Suits on Fantasy Harbor, Don’t Be Alarmed

Have you seen the men in hazmat suits moving around blue trucks and tents in the parking lot outside the former Waccamaw Pottery in Fantasy Harbor? Don’t be alarmed. It’s the Army National Guard. Twenty-two trained hazmat technicians with the 43rd CST were running through drills for responses to hazardous materials and weapons of mass destruction in the lot Tuesday afternoon. The team provides support for local first responders tackling a variety of homeland security threats. Myrtle Beach Online >

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