An attack or release suspected to involve CBRN materials or as a result of a hazmat (hazardous materials) incident or accident would in many cases require the rapid decontamination of members of the public and the contaminated environment. Specialist first-responder units are trained to apply the procedure and would have to deal with situations where panic and multiple devices could present. Unlike a ‘normal’ explosion, usually of an IED (improvised explosive device), any level of CBRN emission from an attack will require specific kinds of clean-up.

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Call for papers

With the growing risks of CBRN hazardous materials being illegally smuggled over borders it is essential that security personnel have the correct high specification PPE for safely handling and neutralizing the threats. Specially designed suits and apparatus are required to allow operatives to carry out these dangerous tasks whilst also providing detergents and decontaminants to eradicate biological and chemical hazards.

It is not only hazardous CBRN materials that can cross borders, but as has been graphically illustrated in recent weeks, potentially deadly diseases can migrate from one country to another. An epidemic of the deadliest form of plague, pneumonic, has hit major cities and towns in Madagascar and is spreading fast. As of 27 October, the Madagascar Health Ministry reported that 1,153 people had been infected and 124 died, and numbers were rising rapidly. More than 70 per cent of the cases are pneumonic plague, a more virulent form that spreads through coughing, sneezing or spitting and is almost always fatal if untreated. At the same time authorities in Seychelles said a man was diagnosed with pneumonic plague after returning from Madagascar.

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When a man-made or a natural CBRNe incident occurs, particular attention needs to be given to the response after the ‘bang’. Though response plans may differ from organization to country to affected infrastructure, the recommended approach is: triage of persons and decontamination, in order to limit the effects of the CBRNe incident. Personal decontamination generally stops the agent from further harming the contaminated person, whereas the decontamination of infrastructure and equipment allow to reestablish the use of equipment or infrastructure. Those taking care of decontamination are first responders, with support from available technologies. The risk of secondary contamination, and possibly death, is extremely high during this decontamination process since the first responder enters the hot zone, even when wearing protective equipment. The current state of the art technologies in decontamination do not include automated decontamination to the extent they should. Only minor adaptation of currently available robots and other developments to current technologies are needed to reduce the number of first responders needed for the process. Since we have the technological capabilities to remove the first responder from the danger zone the question begs: Why are we not investing to support this technological advancement?

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At 10:00 AM, the United States Senate Committee on Armed Services, led by Chairman Senator John McCain, considered the nomination of Mr. Guy B. Roberts to be Assistant Secretary Of Defense For Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Defense Programs (ASD(NCB)).

If confirmed, Mr. Guy Roberts will become the principal advisor to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense and the USD (AT&L) on nuclear energy, nuclear weapons, and chemical and biological defense. In his testimony, Mr. Roberts declared to ensure that the United States has a “robust nuclear enterprise with a full set of flexible, credible, ready and survivable nuclear capabilities” and “institute declaratory policies that, in any adversary’s eyes, credibly convey the message that aggression of any kind is not a rational option.”

During the Advanced Policy Questions, Mr. Roberts added that, if nominated, his broad priorities would be to “maintain a safe and secure nuclear deterrent capability, ensuring the destruction of the U.S. chemical weapons stockpile, decreasing the threat of proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, and to keep WMD out of the hands of terrorists and other enemies by locking down, monitoring, and destroying weapons and weapons related materials.”

Mr. Roberts, along with other witnesses Dr. Mark T. Esper, Honorable Robert L. Wilkie and Mr. Joseph D. Kernan received compliments from Senator McCain who called all candidates “highly qualified”. Having successfully completed the hearing, the last step towards nomination entails a final vote by the Senate. The date and time of the hearing are to be confirmed.

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Issue 51 | November 2017


Take a look at NCT South America


The full listing of all CBRNe related events can be found at the


Take a look at NCT USA

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