EOD Exoskeletons, Chemical Weapons in Syria, Remote Disaster Response

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Topics in this issue of CBRNE Particles include the clashes at the U.N. over chemical weapons attacks, a place for telemedicine in remote disaster response, and integration of an exoskeleton for EOD servicemembers.

Quick Index

CHEMICAL WEAPONS

U.S., Russia Clash at U.N. Over Chemical Weapons Attacks in Syria

Russia and the United States tangled on Tuesday at the United Nations over the use of chemical weapons in Syria as Washington and its allies considered whether to strike at President Bashar al-Assad’s forces over a suspected poison gas attack last weekend.  The UN Security Council failed to approve three draft resolutions on chemical weapons attacks in Syria. Russia vetoed a U.S. text, while two Russian-drafted resolutions failed to get a minimum nine votes to pass. Reuters >>

Russia Tested Nerve Agent on Door Handles Before Skripal Attack, UK Dossier Claims

Russia had tested whether door handles could be used to deliver nerve agents and had targeted the email accounts of Sergei and Yulia Skripal since at least 2013, according to previously classified intelligence over the Salisbury attack that has been made public. The UK released the intelligence on Friday linking Russia to the attack on the former double agent and his daughter. The Guardian >>

Chemical Attacks in Syria: A Deadly History

After a suspected chemical attack in which at least 70 Syrians were killed, Sky News takes a look back at allegations of previous chemical attacks made against the Assad regime. Sky News >>

Yulia Skripal is Awake and at the Center of a Russia-UK Confrontation

The authorities have released little information about the attack on Mr. Skripal and his daughter, but they have expressed certainty that it was carried out on behalf of the Russian government. At the United Nations on Thursday, the Russian ambassador, Vasily A. Nebenzya, called an emergency session of the Security Council where he accused the British authorities of everything from planting false stories in the media to neglecting Mr. Skripal’s pet cats and guinea pigs. New York Times >>

US Plant That Destroys Chemical Weapons Beset by Troubles

A highly automated, multibillion-dollar plant in Colorado that destroys U.S. chemical weapons is over budget, behind schedule and bedeviled by troubles that could worsen the danger to workers. But when the Army said this month it wants to spend millions extra installing more traditional technology to help the beleaguered plant and reduce worker risk, public reaction was more resignation than anger. Army Times >>

Novichok: The Deadly Story Behind the Nerve Agent in Sergei Skripal Spy Attack

About 20 different nerve agents have now been manufactured and all are listed, and restricted, under the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention. Novichoks are an exception because they have never been declared. There is no doubt that nerve agents similar to the Novichok family exist, something that has been described by defectors from Russia. One of these was used to poison the Skripals and Bailey. BioChemSec2030 >>

Opinion: Saddle Moscow with Chemical Weapons Inspections

On March 4, in a quaint cathedral town named Salisbury, not far from Stonehenge, an assassination was attempted. The target was Sergei Skripal, a former Russian military intelligence officer who settled in Salisbury after a spy swap in 2010. In 2006, a Russian court had convicted Skripal of high treason for purportedly passing secrets, including the identities of Russian spies, to the British. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists >>

Army Thinking About Using Detonation Chamber To Destroy Chemical Weapons at the Pueblo Depot

Army officials are considering bringing a “static detonation chamber” to the Pueblo Chemical Depot to destroy mustard-agent rounds that can’t be processed through the new Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant. The Army has a detonation chamber at the Anniston Army Depot in Alabama, but getting federal and state permits for one in Pueblo could take several years. Rusted metal and other “solids” inside some of the old 155mm howitzer shells have been clogging the internal processes of the new demilitarization plant. The Pueblo Chieftain >>

Russia on Trump Call to End Arms Race: Let’s Start with U.S. Chemical Weapons

Russia’s Foreign Ministry called for Washington to destroy its chemical weapons on Wednesday, mocking a proposal by U.S. President Donald Trump to put an end to a global arms race. Reuters >>

EMERGENCY RESPONSE

Healthcare Response to a No-Notice Incident: Las Vegas

Is your healthcare facility prepared for no-notice incidents? Learn how Las Vegas medical professionals responded to the Harvest Festival mass shooting in this ASPR TRACIE webinar. ASPR TRACIE >>

Detection, Identification, Monitoring Equipment – Only as Good as Your Operator Training

It is becoming evident that CBRNe equipment manufacturers are putting the requirements of their First Responder clients at the forefront of product  development. This is a welcome shift in emphasis from the previous attitude of equipment being designed for laboratory use by PhD level physicists, chemists and biologists with not very much consideration given to layman usability. The complexity of the equipment therefore created a barrier to effective operational use, with a requirement for burdensome training. Southern Scientific via CBRNe Tech Index >>

How Docs Could Respond to Disasters Remotely

The universe of telemedicine is expanding, thanks to improved networks and better models of care. Leveraging telemedicine’s potential during traditional disaster response suddenly seems like a no-brainer. We’re poised to move forward boldly but intelligently in creating a tele-response model for both the acute response phase and longer recovery periods. MedPage Today >>

RADIOLOGICAL + NUCLEAR

Turkey Starts Construction of its First Nuclear Power Plant

Four units with a total capacity of 4800 megawatts (electrical) (MWe) of the Russian VVER technology are planned to be constructed in cooperation with Russia. The four units at the site on the Mediterranean coast, 500 kilometres south of Ankara, are scheduled to be in operation by 2026. IAEA >>

Dragon in the Room: Nuclear Disarmament’s Missing Player

At the turn of the twenty-first century, several scholars characterized China as the “forgotten nuclear power.” This label derived from the opacity surrounding China’s nuclear force and the assumed innocuousness of China’s force developments. Over the past decade, however, the tone of the conversation has changed as China has increased its transparency and capabilities. Strategic Studies Quarterly >>

EOD + CIED

Integration of the Exoskeleton in the Battlefield – 2nd Workshop

As a part of the Integration of the Exoskeleton in the Battlefield project, the second Workshop was held in the Military Base Maj Housiau Quartier Peutie, Vilvoorde, Belgium on 6-8 March 2018. The project is sponsored through DAT POW (Defense against Terrorism Program of Work). The initial workshop in 2017 set the general framework to draft Minimum Military Requirements (MMR) for the exoskeleton in support of EOD operators and highlighted the first initial requirements and issues for integration of exoskeletons in EOD operations. EOD Centre of Excellence >>

U.S. Army Says Mishandled War Dogs, Will Comply with Call for Reform

The U.S. Army recently confirmed that it had mishandled retired bomb-sniffing war dogs and said it would comply with recommendations in a Defense Department Inspector General’s report that called for reforms. The canine heroes saved the lives of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan while working with brigade combat teams to sniff out roadside bombs. The report said that some dogs were left in kennels for up to 11 months, and that they were mistreated through lack of care and attention. Reuters >>

EMS, Improvised Explosive Devices and Terrorist Activity

Blast injuries are the classification of injuries that can be sustained by explosives, and to fully comprehend these injuries, practitioners must first understand the physics behind an explosion. Explosions occur due to an exothermic reaction that is generated when chemical bonds are disrupted. This ultimately causes the solid or liquid explosive material to be converted to a gas, which rapidly expands, releasing a large amount of energy. NCBI >>

Towards Cheap, Miniaturized, Robust Sensors for Explosives

Electrochemistry is emerging as a viable technique for explosives detection “in the field” due to its many advantages, including low-cost instrumentation, portability, durability, sensitivity, selectivity, and fast response times. One common electrochemical technique employed in chemical sensors is amperometry. Science Trends >>

PREPAREDNESS + RESILIENCE

Hawaii False Missile Alert: What Happened and What Should We Do Next

Written testimony of FEMA National Continuity Programs Directorate Office of Continuity Communications Director Antwane Johnson for a Senate Committee hearing on the false missile alert in Hawaii, and ways to improve IPAWS, the national warning infrastructure that provides a single interface for public safety officials to alert and warn the public about emergencies. Department of Homeland Security >>

The Key to Saving Lives in CBRNE Events

Combining the capabilities and technological assets of major cities should be at the top of the next resilience list. Focus on passenger rail service is an important part of critical infrastructure planning to ensure an enjoyable and safe environment that many people expect. Community stakeholders should collaborate with local emergency management teams and emergency response entities to discuss the prevention deployment model and utilize it on a daily basis to protect high-traffic areas and critical infrastructure, where incidents may become mass casualty events. Domestic Preparedness >>

How the Internet of Things Can Prepare Cities for Natural Disasters

Government agencies should consider leveraging the internet of things (IoT) and other web-driven technologies to obtain timely and accurate data that can better inform decisions and actions. Using the most current technology could help them more efficiently and safely address these costly disasters. However, this type of progress will require more than just employing the IoT to improve emergency preparedness and response; response teams have to be ready to receive, interpret, and take action on the data. Harvard Business Review >>

Terrorist Nuke Attack Could Overwhelm U.S. Medical System: Study

The United States is ill-prepared to handle the myriad medical emergencies that would be unleashed by a nuclear attack by terrorists, a special report warns. Education about the real risks of radiation and radioactive fallout should include politicians, people in decision-making positions, and the first responders who would be called upon during the emergency. US News >>

Framework for Healthcare Disaster Resilience: A View to the Future

Although the healthcare system is undoubtedly better prepared for disasters than it was before the events of 9/11, it is not well prepared for a large-scale or catastrophic disaster. This report is the culmination of a 2-year project funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to examine US disaster healthcare with the purpose of identifying changes, innovations, and new efforts that could strengthen the country’s ability to provide medical care in major disasters. Center for Health Security >>

FORENSICS

Forensics and Biometrics: Emerging Technologies in Identity Operations

Biometric samples are collected from a group of detainees, transmitted to the DoD biometric database, and compared against samples from all prior encounters. The system produced a positive match on two of the individuals, linking the subjects to a prior sample collected at a location containing bomb-making materials. After the analysis of the available biometric and associated information, the subjects are nominated and approved as known or suspected terrorists (KST) by the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). Police Chief Magazine >>

Lake County Crime Lab will turn around cases faster with new equipment, officials say

The Lake County commissioners approved the purchase of a gas chromatograph/mass spectrometer with an autosampler at their most recent meeting. The crime lab is purchasing the device from Wilmington, Delaware-based Agilent Technologies for just under $70,000. The device is being paid for with a grant received by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. The News-Herald >>

New SDPD Crime Lab Unit Recovers Deleted Data, Restores Damaged Cellphones

A suspect will sometimes attempt to destroy evidence from a mobile device before police can look at it, but the SDPD’s newly formed Forensic Technology Unit has data extraction technology that can retrieve deleted texts, videos and e-mails from damaged or destroyed cellphones. NBC San Diego >>

Securing a Seat at the Table: How States Support Forensic Science Initiatives

Officers and agencies are expected to respond with CSI-like technology while facing limited resources or budget cuts. Fortunately, a variety of sources provide funding for forensic science–related equipment and projects, including one potential untapped resource for law enforcement agencies: the State Administering Agencies (SAAs). Police Chief Magazine >>

This Forensic Science Expert Has Testified in Some Notorious Cases

Veteran forensic expert Robin Cotton knows the pressures scientists can face from heavy caseloads, law enforcement, and exposure to horrifyingly violent crime scenes. As director of Boston University’s biomedical forensic sciences program, she teaches her students to be unequivocally ethical, and exacting when it comes to protocol. Boston Globe >>

RESEARCH + TECH

How Atomic Imaging is Being Pushed to its Limit

Atomic force microscopy is revealing molecular structures with startling clarity. Artificial intelligence and automation could expand its potential. The method’s sensitivity to the electron density that surrounds atoms and exists between them, including the bonds that hold them together as molecules, enables researchers to probe chemistry’s fundamental secrets. Nature >>

Viability of Using Gas Mask Filter to Protect a Home Ventilated Patient from Inhalation of Toxic Compounds

Small study examining the safety of adding a standard-issue CBRN filter to a home ventilator as a method for providing protection in an emergency. Each patient was ventilated for a period of 1 hour with a standard-issue CBRN filter canister attached to the air-outflow port of their ventilator. Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness >>

Development and Characterization of Small-Scale Washing Systems for Removal of Depleted Uranium Oxides

have identified procedures and methodologies for identifying leaching solutions to assist in the removal of depleted uranium (DU) oxides from contaminated soils. They developed a benchscale leach system to optimize leaching procedures and methodologies. ERDC via ResearchGate >>

After London, How Lasers Will Play a Role in Detecting Chemical Attacks Sooner

Konstantin Vodopyanov, a University of Florida researcher, and his colleagues, have developed a method for finding chemical molecules in extremely low doses, similar to the low doses of the nerve agent Novichok that attackers used against former Russian colonel and double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, as well as a British police officer responding to the Skripals’ state of emergency. The method uses two mid-infrared lasers operating at very similar repetition rates, sometimes called dual-comb spectroscopy to essentially sweep the air. Defense One >>

INDUSTRY NEWS

1st Detect Tracer 1000 Begins Testing for Passenger Screening at Airports

1st Detect and DHS kicked off the certification readiness process when they entered into a CRADA last September. Over the following months, 1st Detect’s successful TRACER 1000 explosives detection system demo with TSA led to the submission, evaluation and approval of a data package, and commencement of Developmental Test and Evaluation (DT&E). Astrotech >>

Patent Watch: Ordnance Remediation System

A system for eliminating unexploded ordnance from a mixture. The system includes a separation plant, including a crusher, a magnetic separation station, and a screen plant. The crusher reduces the size of pieces in the mixture, the magnetic separator separates pieces containing a significant amount of ferrous metal, and the screen separates small pieces from larger pieces. Google Patents >>

Bertin Instruments Presenting CBRNE Papers at SPIE DCS

Bertin Technologies will be presenting two papers at SPIE DCS, the annual meeting dedicated to Defense and Commercial Sensing in Orlando, from April 15th to 19th. The first talk, ‘Remote Detection of Unknown Chemical Clouds with Multispectral Imagery on Vehicles’ will be given during the CBRNE Sensing session. The “Smart Digital Fusion Between Visible Color Low Light and Infrared Sensors’ paper will be presented as part of the Infrared Technology and Applications session. Bertin Instruments >>

HISTORICAL REFLECTIONS

The Atomic-Bomb Core That Escaped World War II

The demon core, that 14-pound lump of plutonium that claimed the life of Louis Slotin, began its existence as rods of uranium-238, a relatively stable isotope, at the Hanford Site in Washington State. The Atlantic >>

To Prevent Nuclear War, Borrow From 1973

Yes, total stockpile numbers have come way down from their Cold War high. But the strategic rationale for retaining nuclear weapons remains. That’s unlikely to change any time soon—so what can realistically be done to stop nuclear wars before they start? In the 1960s, US policy makers began to seek a wise goal: ensuring that fewer fingers gripped the nuclear trigger. They worked to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. They lowered risks by pursuing arms control agreements with the Soviet Union. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists >>

How U.S. Chemical Warfare in Vietnam Unleashed an Enduring Disaster

In the end, the military campaign was called Operation Ranch Hand, but it originally went by a more appropriately hellish appellation: Operation Hades. As part of this Vietnam War effort, from 1961 to 1971, the United States sprayed over 73 million liters of chemical agents on the country to strip away the vegetation that provided cover for Vietcong troops in “enemy territory.” Phys.org >>

Fourier’s Transformational Thinking

The mathematics of Joseph Fourier, born 250 years ago, shows the value of intellectual boldness. Fourier analysis allows complex waveforms to be understood and analysed by breaking them down into simpler signals. The roots of the idea go back to the mid-1700s, when the Italian mathematical physicist Joseph-Louis Lagrange and others studied the vibration of strings and the propagation of sound. But it was one of Lagrange’s pupils, Joseph Fourier, who in 1822 truly founded the field that carries his name. Nature >>

A 100 Year Taboo? One Graphic That Shows How Chemical Weapons Have Been Used Over Time

Such weapons have been used in warfare throughout history – but the first large-scale use of chemical weapons took place just over one hundred years ago during World War One, where both sides used gases including chlorine, phosgene and mustard gas against their enemies on the battlefield. The Telegraph >>

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