Feeds

London dirty-bomb tests start this weekend

Nobody panic

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Home Office counter-terror boffins from the chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) Science and Technology Programme will carry out "tracer gas trials" in London starting this weekend.

Tony McNulty, the minister in charge of security spooks and special-powers cops, revealed the plans to Parliament yesterday.

"The trials will improve our understanding of the movement of air-borne material in the urban environment and will enable enhancements in public protection to be developed," he said.

"It will improve the UK's ability to deal with the consequences of a CBRN release."

The trials will involve the release of small amounts of "non-toxic, odourless gases" in the Marylebone area starting on Sunday, and will run for a four to six week period. The Press Association reports that about 20 scientific monitoring stations will be set up in the area.

The government terrorist-busting eggheads will use the data gleaned from the trials to develop computer models of dirty-bomb or urban chemical-weapons attacks. These are expected to form part of security plans for the 2012 Olympics, perhaps even feeding into the design and location of sports facilities.

Mr McNulty also revealed that similar tracer trials have already taken place in the London Underground during March and April.

Even so, it could be that if you build it (a big CBRN-response organisation) the dirty-bomb and chemical weapons terrorists may not come. Not if they know what they're doing, anyway.

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission says that: "Most [dirty bombs] would not release enough radiation to kill people or cause severe illness - the conventional explosive itself would be more harmful to individuals than the radioactive material. However, depending on the scenario, a [dirty bomb] explosion could create fear and panic. Making prompt, accurate information available to the public could prevent the panic sought by terrorists.

"Immediate health effects from exposure to the low radiation levels expected from a [dirty bomb] would likely be minimal."

As ever, plain old explosives are the big worry. As for chemicals, compare the effects of the Tokyo subway gas attack (10 terrorists, five attacks each involving 1kg of hard-to-get sarin nerve gas, 12 dead total) with a typical backpack-bomb attack (London 7/7: four terrorists, four simple home made devices, 52 dead). Only a stupid attacker would bother with chemicals. Real pros like the IRA, for instance, never have.

Still, nobody ever made a mistake over-estimating the ability of Western citizens and in particular their media to get in a panic. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
NASA to reformat Opportunity rover's memory from 125 million miles away
Interplanetary admins will back up data and get to work
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
Volcanic eruption in Iceland triggers CODE RED aviation warning
Lava-spitting Bárðarbunga prompts action from Met Office
LOHAN Kickstarter push breaks TWELVE THOUSAND POUNDS
That's right, folks, you've stumped up OVER 9,000 beer tokens - and counting
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.