Nuclear Forensic Analysis, CBRN Clothing Review, Mine-Clearing Drones

Topics in this issue of CBRNE Particles include the deterrent effect of nuclear forensics, how aging factors into performance in hood respirators, and North Korea’s plutonium stockpile.

In This Article


Modern Advancements in Post-Detonation Nuclear Forensic Analysis

Though the technical nuclear forensics (TNF) post-detonation community is young, numerous strides have been made in recent years toward a more robust characterization capability. This paper presents modern advancements in post-detonation expertise over the last ten years and demonstrates the need for continued extensive research in this field. International Journal of Nuclear Security >>

Bridging the Gap Between Forensics and Biometric-Enabled Watchlists for e-Borders

A biometric-enabled watchlist (or a database of persons of interest) is commonly accepted by national and international security agencies. In particular, the facetrait has demonstrated promising performance in large-scale open-set tasks in forensics and law enforcement scenarios. However, their application in the security of mass-transit systems, such as e-borders, is very limited. We evaluate the risks of unwanted effects using Doddington’s metric and various databases. IEEE Xplore >>

The Role of Mobile Forensics in Terrorism Investigations Involving the Use of Cloud Storage Service and Communication Apps

Mobile technologies can be, and have been, exploited in terrorist activities. In this paper, we highlight the importance of mobile forensics in the investigation of such activities. Specifically, using a series of controlled experiments on Android and Windows devices, we demonstrate how mobile forensics techniques can be used to recover evidentiary artefacts from client devices. Mobile Networks and Applications >>

The Deterrent Effect of Nuclear Forensics: The Case of Hungary

A State capable of identifying the origin and history of intercepted nuclear or radioactive material can have a deterrent effect. This is why nuclear forensics — the examination of nuclear and other radioactive material as part of criminal or nuclear security investigations — is an important tool. International Atomic Energy Agency >>

Addendum to the PCAST Report on Forensic Science in Criminal Courts

On September 20, 2016, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) released its unanimous report to the President entitled “Forensic Science in Criminal Courts: Ensuring Scientific Validity of Feature-Comparison Methods.” This new document, approved by PCAST on January 6, 2017, is an addendum to the earlier report developed to address input received from stakeholders in the intervening period. PCAST’s 2016 report addressed the question of when expert testimony based on a forensic feature comparison method should be deemed admissible in criminal courts. White House >>

Terrorist Trials: Forensic Science and the Trial Process

Forensic science plays an invaluable role in modern legal processes, and nowhere is this more likely to be true than in the modern-day terrorist trial. In terrorism-related offences, both roles are increasingly likely to be carried out in an internationalized, collaborative environment, where far greater attention will be focused on the quality of the forensic science and its application in the investigation stage, as well as in the courtroom. Juries, Science and Popular Culture in the Age of Terror >>

Instant Detection and Identification of Concealed Explosive-Related Compounds

The instant detection of explosives and explosive-related compounds has become an urgent priority in recent years for homeland security and counter-terrorism applications. Miniaturization, portability, and field-ruggedization are crucial requirements. This study reports on instant and standoff identification of concealed explosive-related compounds using customized Raman technique. Forensic Science International >>


Are Trump and U.S. Intelligence Community Headed for A Showdown?

Trump’s goal to slash and restructure the CIA and Office of the Director of National Intelligence was reported by the Wall Street Journal Wednesday, the same day the president-elect raised doubts about U.S. intelligence in a tweet citing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. A day earlier, Trump elicited alarm after he tweeted disparagingly about a classified briefing he is due to receive this week. NPR >>

Redirected Radicals: Understanding the Risk of Altered Targeting Trajectories Among ISIL’s Aspiring Foreign Fighters

This thesis explores the threat posed by a subgroup of homegrown violent extremists (HVEs) identified as redirected radicals, aspiring foreign fighters who, when prevented by counterterrorism actions from traveling overseas, decided instead to alter their targeting trajectory and commit violence in their home countries. Through an extensive comparative case study analysis of recent ISIL-related violent incidents and plots in the United States, Canada, and Australia, common trends identified the prevalence of redirected radicals. Naval Postgraduate School >>

Global Governance at the Energy-Security Nexus: Lessons from UNSCR 1540

Advances in nuclear, biological, and chemical technologies have transformational potential related to the global energy supply chain. At the same time, those advances pose significant security risks because those the same technologies can be diverted for violent purposes. Recognizing this threat, the United Nations Security Council in 2004 took the unprecedented step of invoking its Chapter VII authority to pass Resolution 1540, which obligated all UN members to develop, implement, and report on a comprehensive regulatory system for tracking the production and distribution of technology related to weapons of mass destruction. Energy Research & Social Science >>

Nottingham Man Who Got Explosives Fearing ‘ISIS Attack’ Jailed

A man who stockpiled explosive substances to defend the UK from so-called Islamic State has been jailed for four years. Roger Smith, 46, was concerned about an attack similar to that on Fusilier Lee Rigby, Nottingham Crown Court was told. Smith was found guilty in November of two counts of having explosive substances and of possessing a document for terrorist purposes. BBC News >>

Mali’s Persistent Jihadist Problem

Four years ago, French forces intervened in Mali, successfully averting an al Qaeda-backed thrust toward the capital of Bamako. The French operation went a long way toward reducing the threat that multiple jihadist groups posed to this West Africa nation. The situation in Mali today remains tenuous, however, and the last 18 months have seen a gradual erosion of France’s impressive, initial gains. Rand >>


Emergency Preparedness and Management at the University of L’aquila

In 2009 an earthquake hit the historical downtown of L’Aquila in Central Italy, causing more than 300 fatalities and severe damage to private and public buildings. At the time, the University of L’Aquila represented a major source of employment and income for the city. The earthquake impacted both the facilities and the administrative, financial and patrimonial activities of the university, bringing into the open the tendency – widespread in Italy – to rely on adaptive tactics rather than on strategic pre-disaster plans. PLOS Currents Disasters >>

Firefighters Tour Alamance Regional Medical Center

By touring the hospital and learning about its response practices, the fire department has taken a step toward complete preparedness in case of emergency. The hospital has recently developed a new decontamination procedure, with most of its staff undergoing extensive training. The next step is extensive training drills including first responders and hospital staff undergoing simulations to prepare for various kinds of disasters, including situations of mass casualty, an active shooter and a chemical plant explosion. Times-News >>


AF Team Improves Counter-Biological Warfare Capability, Recognized for Excellence

A cross-organizational Air Force team, led by the deputy chief of staff, Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration (AF/A10), won the 2015 Chief of Staff Team Excellence Award for developing a new concept called the Biological Detection Concept of Employment. BCDOE improves the probability of detecting a biological weapon attack on an air base in time to implement effective medical countermeasures. This concept will reduce the number of casualties and impact to Air Force mission capability resulting from enemy use of biological weapons. U.S. Air Force >>

Thinking About Bioterrorism with Schelling’s ‘Thinking about Nuclear Terrorism’

Establishing a shorthand for nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons has always been troublesome. Characterizing three very different weapons with the same shorthand risks comparisons which might not be appropriate. They have different lethality, utilize different phenomenon to kill, and are employed for different purposes. Referring to them with one convenient phrase risks misconstruing details. And details, in the nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons business, are everything. Global Biodefense >>

Biggest Worries, Wins of U.S. Disease Control Chief

The longest serving CDC director since the 1970s has seen during his tenure the surprise emergence of Zika and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, the international epidemic of Ebola, the opiate-addiction crisis, and the 2009-10 pandemic of H1N1, popularly known as the swine flu. National Geographic >>


U.S. Veterans Exposed to Tainted Water at Marine Base to Get Benefits

The Obama administration has agreed to provide disability benefits to military veterans exposed to contaminated drinking water while at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. Veterans, former reservists and former National Guard members who served for at least 30 days at the U.S. Marine Corps Base from 1953 to 1987 and have been diagnosed with one of eight diseases are eligible. Reuters >>

Veteran Firefighter Tells of Feeling Isolated and Ignored After PTSD Diagnosis

Paul Wild’s daily drive to work can often reduce him to tears. The 20-minute commute takes him along the New England Highway, a road dotted with memories of horrific truck and car accidents, of rescues he made and lives that were lost during the decades he worked as a retained firefighter, rescuer and medical first responder. Newcastle Herald >>

Army Scientists Use Fluorescent Gels to Study Blast Pressure on the Brain

Army researchers are studying the physiological effects of blast pressure on the brain to discover technology solutions to protect Soldiers. Scientists at the Army Research Laboratory have developed a gel substance with fluorescent properties that mimics the texture and mass of the human brain. Their goal is to show the scale of damage to the brain under the pressure conditions that Soldiers encounter in combat or training. >>


Work Resumes at Colorado Plant Destroying Chemical Weapons

The Army has resumed the destruction of chemical weapons at a plant in Colorado after fixing a leak that caused a hazardous waste spill. Officials say the Pueblo Chemical Depot destruction plant began operating again Monday. The depot is destroying shells containing mustard agent under an international treaty. Officials say the November spill released a byproduct of the destruction process but didn’t include any mustard agent. 7 News Denver >>

Spectroscopic Characterization of Reactions Involving Counter-WMD Simulants

The first step of developing counter-WMDs for chemical weapons such as sarin gas involves detailed understanding of the combustion chemistry and chemical kinetics of a sarin surrogate such as triethyl phosphate. This study focuses upon the spectroscopic characterization of time-resolved emissions within the flame. 55th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting >>


PA Fire Dept. Lost 14 Sets of Turnout Gear After Toxic Blaze

After Meyersdale Volunteer Fire Department assisted with a blaze in a Salisbury commercial building last month, it soon became clear there were consequences from battling the toxic flames. Fourteen sets of the protective jackets and pants Meyersdale’s firefighters wore were damaged in the blaze, fire Chief Tim Miller said. Richland Township Fire Department has provided Meyersdale’s firefighters with enough used sets of protective clothing to enable the southern Somerset County department to continue handling calls until new gear arrives. Firehouse >>

Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Protective Clothing – A Review

This work reviews the developments on CBRN protective clothing, focusing on military boots, protection clothes, forecasting models of protection and comfort characteristics, the importance of improving the comfort and physiological stress, development of membranes and construction models, etc. Springer >>

Fourteen-Year-Old Indian Student Develops Mine Clearing Drone

Harshwardhan Zala, a fourteen-year-old Indian from the state of Gujarat, has been granted a 730,000 US Dollar contract with the Gujarati government to produce mine-disabling drones for use in war zones. Zala says, in regards to the purpose of the drone: “The inspiration struck when I was watching television and learned that a large number of soldiers succumb to injuries sustained due to landmine blasts while defusing them manually.” sUAS News >>

The Effect of Aging on the Ventilatory Response to Wearing a CBRN Hood Respirator at Rest and During Mild Exercise

Structural changes in the human body resulting from aging may affect the response to altered levels of O2 and CO2. An abnormal ventilatory response to a buildup of CO2 in the inspired air due to rebreathing may result in adverse effects, which will impair the individual’s ability to function under stress. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of age on the respiratory response to wearing an escape hood at rest and during mild exercise. Safety Lit >>


General Mattis Will Have the Chance to Practice What He Preaches on Nuclear Weapons

Bipartisan praise is welcome in hyper-partisan times, particularly after one of the most bruising election cycles in American history. But Mattis will have a lot on his hands when he takes over the Pentagon, not least of which involves decisions that will further set the course for the maintenance and overhaul of the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal, an extensive process that could cost $1 trillion over three decades. US News >>

Mattis Enthusiastic on ICBMs, Tepid on Nuclear Cruise Missile

President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for secretary of defense believes the US needs to maintain its intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) program, but showed a willingness to consider whether developing a new nuclear cruise missile is the right path forward. Retired Gen. Jim Mattis made his comments as part of his confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee, where he was asked whether he would continue to support the nuclear triad modernization strategy pursued by the Obama administration. Defense News >>

Development of Undergraduate Nuclear Security Curriculum at College of Engineering, Universiti Tenaga Nasional

The Center for Nuclear Energy (CNE), College of Engineering, Universiti Tenaga Nasional (UNITEN) has a great responsibility to undertake educational activities that promote developing human capital in the area of nuclear engineering and technology. Developing human capital in nuclear through education programs is necessary to support the implementation of nuclear power projects in Malaysia in the near future. AIP Conference Proceedings >>

Obama Administration Announces Unilateral Nuclear Weapon Cuts

The Obama administration has unilaterally cut the number of nuclear weapons in the Pentagon’s nuclear weapons stockpile to 4,018 warheads, a reduction of 553 warheads since September 2015. The reduction was disclosed by Vice President Joe Biden during a speech at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace this week. Federation of American Scientists >>

Diplomats: Iran to Get Natural Uranium Batch

Iran is to receive a huge shipment of natural uranium from Russia to compensate it for exporting tons of reactor coolant, diplomats say, in a move approved by the outgoing U.S. administration and other governments seeking to keep Tehran committed to a landmark nuclear pact. Stars & Stripes >>

Kim Jong Un Now Has Enough Plutonium to Make 10 Nuclear Warheads

North Korea now has enough material to make 10 nuclear warheads, according to the latest military analysis by its southern neighbor. The conclusion is based on Pyongyang’s estimated 50-kg stockpile of weapons-grade plutonium, and the reckoning that each warhead would require an average of 4 to 6 kg of nuclear material. Time >>

Pakistan Fires ‘First Submarine-Launched Nuclear-Capable Missile’

Pakistan fired its first submarine-launched cruise missile on Monday, the military said, a show of force for a country that sees its missile development as a deterrent against arch-foe India. The launch of the nuclear-capable Babur-3 missile, which has a range of 450 km (280 miles) and was fired from an undisclosed location in the Indian Ocean, is likely to heighten long-running tension between India and Pakistan. Reuters >>


US Delays Cleanup Rule at Uranium Mines Amid GOP Criticism

Federal officials withdrew a proposed requirement for companies to clean up groundwater at uranium mines across the U.S. and will reconsider a rule that congressional Republicans criticized as too harsh on industry. The plan that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency put on hold Wednesday involves in-situ mining, in which water containing chemicals is used to dissolve uranium out of underground sandstone deposits. Water laden with uranium, a toxic element used for nuclear power and weapons, is then pumped to the surface. No digging or tunneling takes place. Seattle Times >>

Kentucky Energy Officials Finalize $95K Fine for Illegal Radioactive Fracking Dump

State officials have finalized an agreement with an eastern Kentucky disposal company that illegally dumped low-level radioactive fracking waste.   The state Energy and Environment Cabinet says it has signed an agreed order that proposed a $95,000 civil penalty for Advance Disposal Services Blue Ridge Landfill in Estill County. WKMS >>

Minister Inspects Dioxin Decontamination at Da Nang Airport

Minister of Defence Ngo Xuan Lich inspected the US-funded dioxin decontamination project currently underway in Da Nang airport in the central city of Da Nang on January 8. He recognised the significant outcomes in implementing the national action plan for basically overcoming consequences of toxic chemicals used by the US during the war in Vietnam. The action plan was for the 2012-2015 with orientations towards 2020. >>


Kappler Suits Up at Golden Globes

Kappler, Inc. and Marshall County ingenuity made it’s way to Hollywood and then the red carpet.

It might have been hard to notice, but during host Jimmy Fallon’s opening performance segment with actress Amy Adams, two dancers danced a little jig behind Fallon and Adams in bright orange Zytron 500 HAZMAT suits. Those suits were made right here in Marshall County. Sand Mountain Reporter >>

Chemical Heritage Foundation Names Robert G. W. Anderson as President and CEO

Robert G. W. Anderson is the new president and CEO of the Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF), the Philadelphia-based nonprofit organization devoted to research and preservation of chemical history. Anderson, 72, is a former director of the British Museum and a historian of science who has studied the work of chemists Joseph Priestley and Joseph Black, in addition to the history of scientific instrumentation. Chemical & Engineering News >>


1956: Russia Almost Launched Nuclear War

The 1956 British and French attack on Suez, and the parallel 1956 Israel-Egypt War, have to be among the strangest conflicts in history. The cast of characters includes two fading empires reluctant to admit their decline, a charismatic Arab dictator, a paranoid Jewish state, a semi-fake war and a superpower with nuclear weapons. >>

All the Men and Women Who Marched to Their Deaths at Chernobyl

The meltdown and its consequences amount to the worst nuclear accident in history. Potentially tens of thousands of people died. The exact number is hard to calculate, as you must count “extra” cancer deaths over the contaminated area and across Europe for decades after the accident. But we can definitively count, and even name, many of the plant workers, firefighters, police guards, clean-up crews and area doctors and nurses who gave their lives — knowingly, in many cases — preventing the single-reactor meltdown from escalating into an even greater disaster. War Is Boring >>

America’s Missileers Stand Ready to Launch Nuclear Weapons

Fifty-three years ago, the United States came closer to nuclear war than ever before, or since. For 13 days in October 1962 — during the Cuban Missile Crisis — America’s nuclear arsenal was kept on high alert. There were nuclear missiles just 90 miles from US soil, in Fidel Castro’s Cuba. President John F. Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev could have launched a nuclear strike within minutes. WESA Pittsburgh >>

Chilling PBS Doc Recounts the Nuclear Accident That Nearly Destroyed Arkansas

Command and Control premiered this week on PBS’s American Experience. It examines the 1980 mishap at Titan II missile complex in Damascus, Arkansas nearly exploded a missile carrying the most powerful nuclear warhead built by the United States—600 times more powerful than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. A wrench socket fell 70 feet and punctured the missile, unleashing a stream of explosive rocket fuel into the silo. The Oscar-shortlisted documentary asks how to manage weapons of mass destruction without being destroyed by them. FastCoCreate >>

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