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Radiation Risk Communication, Deep Ultraviolet Laser IED Detection, UN Gas Attack Sanctions Blocked

Topics in this issue of CBRNE Particles include deep ultraviolet laser beam method for IED detection, improving radiation risk communication, and chemical weapons use in Mosul.

In This Article

COUNTERTERRORISM

Several Injured in Axe Attack at Train Station in Germany

A man was arrested after injuring seven people with an axe at the main train station in Duesseldorf, Germany in what appeared to be a random attack, police said Thursday. The 36-year-old suspect, appeared to have ‘psychological problems’ and was being treated in a hospital. Time >>

UN Seeks More Than $100 Million to Tackle Violent Extremism

Ever since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, U.N. relief agencies have sought to distance themselves from the U.S.-led war on terror, fearing a hit to their reputations and more risks of retaliation for peacekeepers and aid workers in the field. Chicago Tribune >>

Tip-Offs from the Public Thwart UK Terror Attacks

As part of the Action Counters Terrorism campaign, a podcast has been produced which reveals previously untold stories of how terrorist attacks in the UK were stopped, featuring accounts from detectives, bomb disposal and surveillance officers. A series of television adverts will also air encouraging members of the public to come forward with information which they might otherwise believe is of little value to investigators. Sky News >>

IS Using Suicide Attacks on ‘Industrial Scale’

Almost 300 Islamic State (IS) militants have killed themselves in suicide attacks in Mosul since Iraqi forces started an offensive to recapture the city in October, according to the jihadist group’s propaganda. BBC >>

Morgan Stanley Hires Obama Counterterrorism Advisor as Technology Executive

Morgan Stanley has hired a former senior counterterrorism advisor in the Obama administration, Jen Easterly, to advise the bank on managing technology risk. Easterly started at the bank in the last several weeks, a Morgan Stanley spokesman confirmed. Easterly had most recently served on the National Security Council as the senior director for counterterrorism and a special assistant to former President Barack Obama. Reuters >>

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS

Technology Helps Military Prepare for Chemical & Radiological Threats

Military teams trained to detect, identify and stop various threats are helping local responders keep the country safe. The Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear Response Team, or CBRN, are specialized teams trained to sniff out potential chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear attacks. CBRN teams are strategically positioned all over the U.S. and its territories. Armed with Science >>

Current State and Problems of Radiation Risk Communication: Based on the Results of a 2012 Whole Village Survey

The entire village of Iitate was contaminated by radioactive material from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant; even today, the residents remain evacuated. For the villagers, risk communication is an important element of recovery and maintaining health. This analysis focuses on the problem of radiation, presents results from a questionnaire of villagers, and examines methods for future risk communication activities. PLOS Current Disasters >>

Natural Disasters Cost $520 Billion a Year, World Bank Says

Global natural disasters cost $520 billion of consumption loss annually, 60 percent larger than asset losses that are commonly reported, the World Bank said in a report. The estimate is based on the impact of disasters such as floods, windstorms, earthquakes, and tsunamis on people’s well-being, measured by the decline in their consumption Bloomberg >>

Illinois House Votes to Make October ‘Zombie Preparedness Month’

The Illinois House adopted a resolution last month designating October of this year as “Zombie Preparedness Month.” The living-dead-legislation, sponsored by Democratic state Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch, encourages Illinoisans to learn about natural disasters and take steps toward stockpiling three days worth of emergency rations. NBC Chicago >>

RESPONDER HEALTH + SAFETY

The Toxic Twins

Where there is fire, there is always smoke; and where there’s smoke, there are usually toxic gases lurking. As computers, couches, refrigerators, cleaning supplies, and other products burn, toxic gases are released into the air: hydrogen cyanide, vinyl chloride, polyvinyl chloride, formaldehyde, and oxides of nitrogen, to name a few. Fire Rescue Magazine >>

Firefighters and Cancer: Is a Risky Job Even Riskier?

Fires carry soot and smoke from high-toxin synthetic material and electronics. Exhaust fumes from diesel fire engines present a hazard. The protective gear that insulates firefighters from heat and flames also raises body temperatures, opening pores to absorb chemicals. Washington Post >>

Bell’s Bill Focuses on First Responder Mental Health

State Rep. Cecil Bell filed House Bill 1794, which would create the Work Group on Mental Health Access for First Responders, a proposed 14-person panel that will study different issues first responders might have with obtaining mental health care, including stigmas, access and costs. The work group would provide its recommendations to the Texas governor, lieutenant governor and Legislature in late 2018. Chron >>

Vandegrift: First Responders Need Better Workers’ Comp Protection

The bill seeks to expand Workers’ Comp to cover mental and emotional health challenges like PTSD by “revising the standard by which a mental or nervous injury involving a first responder must be demonstrated for purposes of determining eligibility for benefits for employment related accidents and injuries.” Tallahassee Democrat >>

CHEMICAL WEAPONS

‘First Chemical Attack’ in Mosul Battle Injures Twelve

Twelve civilians have been injured in Mosul in what appears to be the first chemical weapon attack in the battle for the IS stronghold. A doctor from the International Red Cross (ICRC), based in nearby Irbil, confirmed the incident to the BBC. An 11-year-old boy has severe respiratory and skin problems and a month-old baby was also injured. BBC >>

Women Charged with Murder in Airport Assassination

The women, who arrived in court protected by masked special forces carrying machine guns, are at the centre of the bizarre killing of Kim Jong Nam at a busy Kuala Lumpur airport terminal. Many speculate the attack was orchestrated by North Korea, but it has denied any role. Bangkok Post >>

Statement on the Use of a Chemical Weapon in the Death of DPRK National

Malaysia is greatly concerned and strongly condemns the use of a toxic chemical that lead to the death of a North Korean national… On 24 February 2017, the Royal Malaysian Police received the preliminary analysis report from the Chemistry Department of Malaysia. The analysis determined that the samples of the chemical substance retrieved from the deceased was Ethyl N-2-Diispropylaminoethyl Methylphosphonothiolate or “VX Nerve Agent”, a Chemical Weapon listed under Schedule 1 of the Chemical Weapons Convention. OPCW >>

Russia, China Block U.N. Sanctions on Syria Over Gas Attacks

Russia on Tuesday cast its seventh veto to protect the Syrian government from United Nations Security Council action, blocking a bid by Western powers to impose sanctions over accusations of chemical weapons attacks during the six-year Syrian conflict. China backed Russia and cast its sixth veto on Syria. Russia had said the vote on the resolution, drafted by France, Britain and the United States, would harm U.N.-led peace talks between the warring Syrian parties in Geneva, which began last week. Reuters >>

In Southeastern Colorado, Robots Carefully Disarm WWII-Era Chemical Weapons

“These mounds are carefully spaced to prevent an explosion in one igloo from triggering explosions in neighboring igloos. That’s because inside, the US military stores a stockpile of 780,000 unused WWII-era munitions, filled with dangerous and deadly viscous sulfur mustard agent. This stockpile of chemical weapons was shipped to these igloos in the 1950s. They have been carefully guarded since then.” ARS Technica >>

Soldiers Prepare for Possibility of Chemical Attacks

When Pentagon officials talk about urban warfare, it conjures up images of U.S. troops in the Middle East or Afghanistan, grinding it out from house to house, clearing booby-trapped buildings. Now imagine having to do that while wearing bulky protective gear, gas masks that impair vision, in addition to having to monitor chemical detectors for the possible presence of poison gas. National Defense >>

Decontamination of Children

Children are particularly vulnerable to aerosolized biologic or chemical agents because they normally breathe more times per minute than adults, and they would be exposed to larger doses than adults in the same period of time. Children are also more vulnerable to agents that act on or through the skin because their skin is thinner and they have a larger skin surface-to-body mass ratio than adults. Kids are also more at risk of hypothermia and therefore require heated water or decontamination conducted in a site more protected from cold environments. American Academy of Pediatrics >>

RESEARCH + TECH

Mass Spectrometry Gets a New Power Source and a New Life

Georgia Tech researchers have managed to make mass spectrometry more sensitive than ever before, more portable, cheaper, and even safer. All of these advancements were accomplished by replacing the direct current power source typically used as a power source with triboelectric nanogenerators (TENGs). IEEE Spectrum >>

Smiths Detection Inc. to Develop Explosive Detector for Federal Government

The contract comes as production of the chemical detector levels off. Since 2004, the company has made more than 80,000 chemical detectors for the federal government. In April, the company was awarded a $17 million follow-on production order to make the devices for the Army. While the new contract is for research and development — not manufacture — of the explosives detector, Smiths Detection expects a production order to follow. Baltimore Sun >>

Forensic Research Extends Detection of Cyanide Poisoning

Unless cyanide is discovered at the time of death on the mouth or nose, elevated cyanide concentrations can only be found for up to two days under current toxicological testing. A team of researchers have found a substance that appears in the liver following cyanide poisoning that could serve as a stable biomarker for a longer period of time. Lab Manager >>

EXPLOSIVES

Boom! Royal Navy Explosives Experts Detonate 500lb German WWII Bomb

A four-man team from the Royal Navy’s Southern Diving Unit destroyed the bomb in a controlled demolition at Shrewburyness Range near Southend, Essex, at 11.30am on Saturday after defusing it. A school, nursery and homes were evacuated on Thursday after the unexploded device was found in north-west London, forcing local residents to shelter in a church overnight. Daily Mail >>

Improvised Explosive Detection – New Approach

A small team of researchers who are quietly developing a new, game-changing technology that could potentially eliminate the threat of the Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) using a device that detects trace levels of explosives from a distance using a mechanism called “deep ultraviolet laser beam.” iHLS >>

NUCLEAR SECURITY

U.N. Security Council Condemns North Korea Missile Launches

The United Nations Security Council on Tuesday condemned North Korea’s recent ballistic missile launches and expressed concern over the country’s increasingly destabilizing behavior and defiance of the 15-member body. Pyongyang fired four ballistic missiles into the sea off Japan’s northwest coast on Monday, angering South Korea and Japan, days after it promised retaliation over U.S.-South Korea military drills it sees as preparation for war. Reuters >>

The Huge Risk of Small Nukes

It’s been called the most dangerous nuclear weapon in America’s arsenal. Not the biggest — that distinction goes to the 1.2-megaton B83 bomb — but a weapon whose precision makes it the most likely to be used in an actual war. It’s called the B61 gravity bomb, built to be dropped from an airplane, with a variable yield that can detonate with an explosive force of up to 11 times the force of the Hiroshima blast, or be dialed down to a tiny fraction of that size. Politico >>

Military Leaders Say US Ability to Deter Nuclear Threats Could Fizzle in Future

On Monday, North Korea fired four missiles that ended up falling into the ocean off Japan. The development comes as the U.S. military is relying on an aging command and control system that helps military leaders obtain and process information in times of nuclear threats, such as enemies firing warheads. Moreover, there’s an added risk since one of the early warning missile sensors used by the U.S. military is in space, which also is seen as increasingly vulnerable. CNBC >>

Detector Network Flags Traces of Radioactive Iodine in Europe

Small amounts of iodine-131, well below levels likely to have any effect on human health, were detected in outdoor air last month in a number of European countries. As I-131 has a half-life of about eight days, IRSN concludes, “The detection of this radionuclide is proof of a rather recent release.” However, the source of the iodine remains unknown. World Nuclear News >>

Iran’s Enriched Uranium Stock Halves After Flirting with Limit: IAEA

Iran’s official stock of enriched uranium has fallen by half after large amounts stuck in pipes have been recategorized as unrecoverable under a process agreed with major powers, the U.N. atomic watchdog said on Friday. But before that process began last month, Iran came close to reaching a limit on its uranium stock, one of the most sensitive aspects of Tehran’s nuclear deal, a confidential report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) obtained by Reuters made clear. Reuters >>

UK Needs National Lab to Coordinate Nuclear R&D

The UK’s National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) cannot fulfil the role its name describes while it relies on commercial work for part of its funding. That was the consensus of three expert witnesses to the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee’s inquiry into priorities for nuclear research and technologies. World Nuclear News >>

North Korea Launch Could Be Test of New Attack Strategy, Japan Analysts Say

The apparent success of four simultaneous missile launchings by North Korea on Monday raised new alarms about the threat to its neighbors and its progress toward developing an ability to overcome their ballistic missile defense systems, including those that have yet to be deployed. New York Times >>

SPECIAL INTEREST

Seeking Input on Community Reception Center Radiation Exercises

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with support from NACCHO is seeking health departments who are either currently planning to conduct or interested in conducting functional radiation community reception center (CRC) exercises in the next year. This effort aims to capture time-motion /throughput data on the CRC process. NACCHO >>

A Visit to Russia’s Secret Nuclear Labs

“On February 23, 1992, less than two months after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, I landed on the tarmac in Sarov, a city the government had removed from maps to keep secret its status as a nuclear weapons center. I was then director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory and­­ accompanied by two senior scientists from my own lab plus three colleagues from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The six of us were about to walk through the birthplace of the Soviet nuclear bomb, the technological and intellectual powerhouse behind the sophisticated arsenal that had been pointed at our country for the previous 40 years.” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists >>

Patriot’s Day: A Bizarre and Suspect Portrayal of the Boston Bombings

For a movie that has taken such great pains to be authentic, and exhaustively consulted victims, law enforcement professionals, witnesses and investigators, Wahlberg’s casting defies reason. Sgt Tommy Saunders, played by Walhberg, does not exist. Nevertheless, Wahlberg’s fictional composite character becomes the lynch-pin for the entire film. He is everywhere. The Conversation >>

This Diamond Battery is Made from Nuclear Waste

Scientists from the University of Bristol Cabot Institute are hitting two birds with one stone, thanks to their lab-made diamond that can generate electricity and is made from upcycled radioactive waste. World Economic Forum >>

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