Particles – Deep Borehole Program Cuts, Epidemiological Forensics, Event Response Times

CBRNE Particles News Scan Top StoriesTopics in this issue of CBRNE Particles include improving terrorism event response times, chemistry research funding cuts, and cancellation of the nuclear waste Deep Borehole Field Test.

COUNTERTERRORISM

Global Journalist: Renewed Threat from Chemical, Biological Weapons

Both Assad’s forces and rebel groups have used chemical weapons in Syria, demonstrating the dangers of proliferation. Meanwhile new gene editing technologies allow for the creation of more virulent and deadly bio-weapons. On this edition of Global Journalist, a look at the history and future of chemical and biological weapons. KBIA >>

Emerging Threats: Boosting Response Time and Detection

Despite many years of stepped up efforts to thwart terrorist ambitions, attacks on airports and commercial jets demonstrate that explosives remain a significant aviation threat. One doesn’t need to look far for examples – the recent Brussels and Istanbul airport bombings, as well as the 2015 crash of a Russian passenger jet, and a year later, the EgyptAir A320 crash, both of which investigators suspect we caused by a bomb. Washington Post >>

How the FBI Hacked a Dark Web Shopper Plotting a Mail Bomb Hit

What does it take to catch those using dark web markets for illicit purchases? These days, feds rely on various hacking methods to uncover those buying and selling illegal goods, whether drugs or weapons, on the anonymizing Tor network. In one startling Georgia-based case, involving a man who pled guilty to trying to acquire a mail bomb on a Tor-hosted market, they threw the digital kitchen sink at the perp. Forbes >>

Can North Korea Use Drones for Terrorism?

Concern is mounting over North Korea’s use of drones for military activities after a purported North Korean drone was found to have spied on a US advanced missile system deployed in the South.

The drone is said to have travelled about 500 kilometers undetected by the South Korean air defence system until it reached the southern city of Seongju, North Gyeongsang Province, and took more than 10 pictures of a battery for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence system deployed there. In Homeland Security >>

Marine Corps Modernizing Emergency Response Capabilities

The Consolidated Emergency Response System standardizes emergency dispatching capabilities and provides emergency first responders with enhanced command and coordination to support all hazardous response missions aboard Marine Corps installations. Defense.gov >>

RADIOLOGICAL + NUCLEAR

Risks of Densely Packed Spent Fuel Pools

This essay by Allison Macfarlane argues that “the back end of the fuel cycle, especially at reactors, has not received the attention to safety and management it needs.  Management of spent fuel after discharge from the reactor requires careful thought and safety analysis.  Surprisingly, regulators in some countries have taken a laissez-faire attitude to the back end of the fuel cycle at reactors.” Nautilus Institute >>

Trump Administration Dropping Nuclear Waste Burial Test

The U.S. Department of Energy is abandoning a test meant to determine whether nuclear waste can be buried far underground because of changes in budget priorities. A spokeswoman said in a statement that the agency doesn’t intend to continue supporting the Deep Borehole Field Test project, which was meant to assess whether nuclear waste could be stored in approximately 3-mile-deep holes. Officials had stressed it wouldn’t involve the use of actual nuclear waste. Seattle Times >>

POLICY + POLITICS

Sen. Lindsey Graham Talks Russia, MOX

With Russian relations at “an all-time low” as President Donald Trump has put it, South Carolina’s senior senator thinks living up to nuclear non-proliferation agreements could help patch things up. In a telephone interview with the Aiken Standard, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. blamed Barack Obama and the former president’s administration for delays and cost overruns with the Mixed Oxide, or MOX, Fuel Fabrication Facility under construction at the Savannah River Site in Aiken County. Aiken Standard >>

Average Cuts of 16% Would Hit Agencies That Fund Chemistry Research and Regulations

President Donald J. Trump is asking Congress to make wide-ranging cuts to science agencies in his 2018 budget. If enacted, they could have a potentially devastating impact on science, including chemical research. Overall, federal R&D would take a 16.8% hit, down $12.6 billion, according to estimates from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. ACS >>

BIOLOGICAL DEFENSE + HEALTH SECURITY

Joint Criminal and Epidemiological Investigations Handbook

The CDC and FBI released an updated version of the Joint Criminal and Epidemiological Investigations Handbook, providing an overview of criminal and epidemiological investigation procedures involving interactions between law enforcement and public health. The handbook will teach public health and law enforcement how to work together to identify the biological agent, prevent the spread of the disease, avoid public panic, and apprehend those responsible. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention >>

CHEMICAL WEAPONS

Teamwork and Experience Pay Off During Successful Destruction Mission

USACE works closely with RCMD for remediation efforts at sites that may have buried chemical munitions. A great deal of historical research goes into planning for remediation, and researchers typically have a good idea of what could be recovered at a site. When items with unknown liquid fills are recovered, RCMD sends specialized assessment equipment and a team of experts from CARA. CBRNe World >>

Atomistic Approach toward Selective Photocatalytic Oxidation of a Mustard-Gas Simulant

Researchers describe the synthesis of two Zr-based benzothiadiazole- and benzoselenadiazole-containing metal–organic frameworks (MOFs) for the selective photocatalytic oxidation of the mustard gas simulant, 2-chloroethyl ethyl sulfide (CEES). ACS >>

Chemical Weapons Plant Receives Supplemental Funding

After unexpected cost overruns last year in the chemical weapons neutralization projects at both the Blue Grass Army Depot near Richmond and the Pueblo Army Depot in Colorado, both projects will receive a boost of $127 million in supplemental funding during the current fiscal year. Richmond Register >>

PNNL Detecting and Preventing the Use of Chemical Weapons

The steps to make cyanide are pretty much the same from manufacturer to manufacturer. However, researchers have found that various factors, including the manufacturing process and materials, and even the locale, may introduce manufacturer-specific impurities that can be detected in the final product. These “chemical attribution signatures” are the fingerprints authorities need to help put two and two together. Tri-City Herald >>

SPECIAL INTEREST

Three Mile Island to Close 40 Years After Nuclear Accident

Three Mile Island – which experienced a partial reactor meltdown in 1979, spawning nationwide protests – will shut in 2019. Exelon Corp, which owns the facility, said the low cost of natural gas extraction had made nuclear-generated electricity unprofitable. BBC >>

Air Force Canines Deploy to Support Operation Inherent Resolve

One of the most crucial military working dog missions in a deployed environment is explosive detection. And, with their expert sense of smell, the dogs provide an invaluable first line of defense. The bond between dog and handler isn’t always immediate. Repetition and effort close the gap between the partners, but it’s the long hours and determination that solidifies the emotional bond they build. Dogs get extremely attached to their handlers, so when a new handler is assigned to them they have to adjust. Defense.gov >>

HISTORICAL REFLECTIONS

7 Ways WWI Still Impacts Today’s Army

Extensive chemical operations had been in place on the Western Front since April 1915, using phosgene, chlorine, and mustard gas. Although the German Army was the first to use chemicals, all nations were soon using chemical weapons. The United States, however, entered the war unprepared for this particular weapon. The U.S. Army and Marine Corps had to rely on French and British expertise for chemical training, doctrine, and materiel. Scout.com >>