CASE CLOSED … what really happened in the 2001 anthrax attacks?

* Military Authors in Journal for Applied Microbiology (April 2014): “Further treatment of the bioagent (e.g., applying a uniform change to the particles, adding a fluidizing agent) can enhance the ability of the powder to disperse by inhibiting particle agglomeration (Matsumoto, 2003), as observed in the 2001 attacks.”

Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 5, 2014


Screen shot 2014-04-05 at 11.07.40 AM

***

Screen shot 2014-04-05 at 11.08.02 AM

***

Advertisements

13 Responses to “* Military Authors in Journal for Applied Microbiology (April 2014): “Further treatment of the bioagent (e.g., applying a uniform change to the particles, adding a fluidizing agent) can enhance the ability of the powder to disperse by inhibiting particle agglomeration (Matsumoto, 2003), as observed in the 2001 attacks.””

  1. DXer said

    http://radar.oreilly.com/2014/04/biohacking-and-the-problem-of-bioterrorism.html

    Biohacking and the problem of bioterrorism

    Natural bioterrorism might be the bigger threat, and the value of citizens educated in biosciences can’t be overstated.

    by Mike Loukides | @mikeloukides | +Mike Loukides | Comments: 1 | April 9, 2014

    I won’t downplay the possibility of a bioterror attack. It’s already happened. The Anthrax-contaminated letters that were sent to political figures just after 9/11 were certainly an instance of bioterrorism. Fortunately (for everyone but the victims), they only resulted in five deaths, not thousands. Since then, there have been a few “copycat” crimes, though using a harmless white powder rather than Anthrax spores.

    [My note: There were thousands of hoax mailings.]

    While I see bioterror in the future as a certainty, I don’t believe it will come from a hackerspace. The 2001 attacks are instructive: the spores were traced to a U.S. biodefense laboratory. Whether or not you believe Bruce Ivins, the lead suspect, was guilty, it’s clear that the Anthrax spores were developed by professionals and could not have been developed outside of a professional setting. That’s what I expect for future attacks: the biological materials, whether spores, viruses, or bacteria, will come from a research laboratory, produced with government funding. Whether they’re stolen from a U.S. lab or produced overseas: take your pick. They won’t come from the hackerspace down the street.

    [My Comment: I wonder if Mike knows how many BL3s there are just in the United States. Is a space not a hackerspace just because it is a BIolevel Safety 3. I go to a (non-bio) “hackerspace” sometimes daily that has many times the $3500 in equipment that the FBI estimated in 2002 was needed for the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings. So what is the roadblock if not cost? It seems that RHE is correct that the explosion in BL3s has made the world less safe, not more safe. Or as MH-J has said, to paraphrase, the increase in the number of researchers was crazy.

    http://www.amerithrax.wordpress.com

    • DXer said

      Indeed, there are “a few” every week, whether reported or not. It is the ultimate, stupid crime.

      There are hoax incidents each week.

      http://fox59.com/2014/04/09/police-new-castle-man-tareted-police-officers-with-powder-laced-letters/#axzz2yPvVLKs8

      NEW CASTLE (April 9, 2014) – Police arrested a New Castle man who mailed envelopes filled with white powder to three Henry County law enforcement officers.

      George Kinser, 51, New Castle, claimed the letters were filled with anthrax. Tests showed the substance was actually talcum powder. Police arrested Kinser on two counts of terroristic mischief, a class C felony.

      The investigation began on April 2 when the wife of a Henry County sheriff’s deputy opened a letter from the family’s post office box. A white powder fell out of the envelope, and the woman—who works in Marion County—called Indianapolis Metropolitan police.

      Two New Castle police officers also received suspicious letters at their homes, according to court documents. The letters were addressed to their wives, police said. One of the officers said the handwriting matched that of a similar letter he’d received in August 2013. In the earlier case, Kinser admitted sending the letter and said he wouldn’t do it again after being questioned by police.

      The three new letters were nearly identical, police said, postmarked for April 1 and sealed with clear scotch tape. Each letter had the same handwriting with the same blue marker. Police compared the handwriting to the previous letter Kinser had sent as well as court documents.

      Police obtained a search warrant for Kinser’s apartment. Inside they found “rubber gloves, papers and small notebooks with the names of officers, names of family members which included some addresses.” They also found “markers and pens which were consistent with those used in the recent letters” sent to the officers.

  2. DXer said

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1467-954X.12128/abstract?deniedAccessCustomisedMessage=&userIsAuthenticated=false

    Creating a secure network: the 2001 anthrax attacks and the transformation of postal security
    • Ryan Ellis

    Article first published online: 18 MAR 2014
    Abstract

    The 2001 anthrax attacks transformed the US postal network into a site of uncertainty and danger. Five individuals died as a result of anthrax exposure, while 22 individuals were infected; estimates place the cost of the attacks, including sanitation and lost revenue, at $6 billion. The attacks highlighted the limitations and particularities of pre-existing biological-defence efforts and led to the adoption of new practices of postal security. In this article I examine the failure of pre-attack planning and critically analyse the creation and implementation of new security standards within the postal network in the wake of the 2001 attacks. Through archival research conducted at the Smithsonian Institution and documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the article traces the politics inscribed within the architecture of new security technologies. The creation of new forms of security was a contentious and fraught process that brought together a cross-section of interest groups, including postal labour, large-volume mailers, and postal management. Ultimately, however, these new forms of security serve to reinforce, rather than disrupt, pre-existing structures of power. New security practices serve the interests of large-volume commercial mailers – long-entrenched and central players in postal politics – at the expense of postal workers and the general public. The article emphasizes the possibilities and limitations of disasters to create moments of disruption and undergird new political interventions.

    • DXer said

      Apart from the sociological aspects of the article which appears to have had its roots in this paper presented at a 2011 meeting, did the documents obtained under FOIA discuss technical aspects of the Fall 2001 anthrax powder? The documents obtained by Ryan Ellis likely differ from the 2000 pages provided to me by CDC.

      Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 4S Annual Meeting – Abstract and Session Submissions, Crowne Plaza Cleveland City Center Hotel, Cleveland, OH, Nov 02, 2011
      http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p_mla_apa_research_citation/5/1/8/1/2/p518120_index.html?phpsessid=ph0olsbskjndji2ar5fcdmnkd4

      The 2001 anthrax attacks transformed the US postal network into site of uncertainty and danger. Five individuals died as a result of anthrax exposure, while 17 individuals were infected. The initial costs of the attacks, in terms of sanitation and lost revenue, were estimated at $2.5 billion. In this paper, I review the creation and implementation of new biohazard security technologies within the postal network. The paper examines the deployment of the Biohazard Detection System (BDS) and Intelligent Mail suite of services and considers the ways in which a cross-section of interest groups, including postal labor, large-volume mailers, postal management, and defense contractors, attempt to define new security practices. The paper traces the politics inscribed within the architecture of new control technologies through archival research conducted at the Smithsonian Institution and documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The paper concludes that the BDS created a bifurcated mailstream that shifted the costs and burdens of security to general mail users, while exempting large-volume, commercial, mailers. Additionally, Intelligent Mail’s surveillance technologies are designed to not only provide law enforcement with mailing data, but undergird the shift away from career employees in favor of the adoption of temporary labor. Theoretically, the paper draws from the work of Ulrich Beck and notions of “securitization” to consider the way novel risks support new political interventions.

    • DXer said

      Ryan Ellis’ discussion in his 2011 thesis is the most learned discussion of the effects on postal service facilities that I’ve seen to date.

      The subject is somewhat peripheral to the whodunnit which Dr. Ellis does not address. As as an alternative of the lengthy and learned discussion, I would note that page 307 has a nice graphic of the contamination in postal facilities.

      I will pull the March 2014 article to see whether it discusses materials provided under FOIA or differs in other respects.

      I am especially interested in FOIA from the postal services.

      Peer Reviewed
      Title:
      Networks, deregulation, and risk : the politics of critical infrastructure protection
      Author:
      Ellis, Ryan Nelson
      Acceptance Date:
      01-01-2011

      http://www.postalmuseum.si.edu/scholarships/Ryan_Ellis_Dissertation.pdf

  3. DXer said

    The authors in section on Test procedure state:

    “Two independent laboratories performed sample preparation and aerosolization studies using separate chambers and personnel. Three independent aerosol loading experiments were performed by each laboratory. Samples for aerosolization were prepared by adding 0.08 g of lyophilized BAΔS, 0.02 g hydrophobic fumed silica (Aerosil® R812S, Evonik Industries), and 15 sterile 3-mm borosilicate glass beads to a 15-mL round-bottom polypropylene tube and securing the cap with Parafilm® to create an airtight seal. The tube was vortexed for 2 min on high, with pauses at 30-second intervals to tap the bottom of the tube against a hard surface. The Parafilm was then removed under aseptic conditions and the glass beads were discarded. The milled spore–silica mixture was resealed and stored at 4 °C until aerosolization.”

    Anonymous, what are the implications of this peer-reviewed Journal of Applied Microbiology article for the FBI’s “Ivins Theory”? All this science stuff is someone else’s ken. I normally consult with Dr. Popov on this sort of issue.

    http://www.amerithrax.wordpress.com

    • DXer said

      Detection of the Urban Release of a Bacillus anthracis Simulant by Air Sampling
      To cite this article:
      GarzaAlexander G., Van CuykSheila M., BrownMichael J., and OmbergKristin M.. Biosecurity and Bioterrorism: Biodefense Strategy, Practice, and Science. -Not available-, ahead of print. doi:10.1089/bsp.2013.0086.

      Online Ahead of Print: April 3, 2014
      http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/pdf/10.1089/bsp.2013.0086

      ‘‘operational data’’ for a real or simulated terrorist attack on an urban area are difficult to obtain. The experimental evaluations of currently fielded systems are not publicly available for security reasons, and much of the relevant open literature is from studies that are outdated or were performed in nonurban settings.

    • DXer said

      Some background:

      Development of an Aerosol System for Uniformly Depositing Bacillus Anthracis Spore Particles on Surfaces
      Paul A. Barona, Cherie F. Estilla, Gregory J. Deyea,Misty J. Heina, Jeremy K. Beardb, Lloyd D. Larsenb &Gregory E. Dahlstromb
      pages 159-172

      Received: 28 Jun 2007
      Accepted: 15 Jan 2008
      Published online: 03 Apr 2008

      INTRODUCTION

      The 2001 contamination by dry aerosolized Bacillus anthracis spores in several environments, including the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. and post office mail sorting facilities, was measured using a variety of surface sampling and measurement techniques (Weis et al. 2002; Dull et al. 2004;Sanderson et al. 2004). These spores deposited on various surfaces and eventually had to be cleaned up. The cleanup involved surface testing to determine the presence or absence of culturable spores. Several sampling techniques were applied, involving the use of wet wipes, wet swabs, and vacuuming with special collection sock filters, combined with analysis by spore culturing. The variability of results and lack of validation of these techniques for Bacillus anthracis raised concern regarding the sensitivity and accuracy of these sampling and analytical techniques (Teshale et al. 2002; Rose et al. 2004; Sanderson et al. 2004; Beecher 2006).

      ***

      Three ways of analyzing the agar plates were used to evaluate the effect of spore coatings on viability and to differentiate between number of spore-containing particles and the number of spores. The presence of spore agglomerates re-suspended by various sample handling activities in the chamber further increased the variability of deposited particles.

      In the anthrax attack of 2001, some of the material was believed to be in a “fluidized” form (defined here as having fumed silica added). In order to simulate the aerosol-deposited nature of the anthrax biowarfare agent on surfaces, a two part study was initiated. The present work was part of a larger study to investigate surface sampling techniques and analytical techniques. The focus of the work presented here was to develop a system to prepare multiple samples in a chamber, which allowed predictable concentrations of aerosolized spores (closely simulating the type of spores used in the actual attack) to settle on at least two types of surfaces and at concentrations that tested the limits of detection of the sampling and analytical methods.

      ***

      METHODOLOGY

      ***

      Ten percent (by weight) of an amorphous silica-based flow enhancer was added to the dried spores. The dried material was milled using an exclusionary ball mill. In this process the material passed through a series of stages separated by increasingly finer mesh screens. In each stage 0.01 m diameter steel balls forced the product through the screen separators. A pneumatic vibrator actuated the entire mill.

      BG was obtained from a commercially manufactured stockpile of dry spores (produced under contract in 1963 by Westco Chemical, Shafter, CO) that had been used in numerous tests and experiments. The manufacturing process paralleled that of the procedure described for BaS above. Twenty percent by weight of amorphous silica was added to enhance the flow characteristics of the BG preparation.

      Concentration decay of 1.3 μm (one APS channel) particles of silica-coated BG spores as measured by the APS.
      http://www.tandfonline.com/action/showPopup?citid=citart1&id=F0005&doi=10.1080/02786820801918605

      A picture of a particle presumed to be a single BG spore coated with fumed silica is indicated in Figure 7a. Many particles similar to this were observed, while no single spores without the silica coating were observed. However, agglomerated spores with only a light coating of silica were readily observed as indicated in Figure 7b.
      http://www.tandfonline.com/action/showPopup?citid=citart1&id=F0007&doi=10.1080/02786820801918605

      ***

      Aerosol Particle Size and Concentration Decay
      The aerosol generated from the BG and BaS powders had a mode at about 0.9 and 1.3 μm, respectively (Figure 3), indicating that most of the particles initially generated were likely to include single spores. The maxima of these modes decreased slightly at later times in the settling process as predicted by Equation (2) (larger particles settle more quickly). The remaining aerosol consisted of particles containing no spores (only debris or non-culturable spores), particles containing single spores and particles containing multiple spores. It was assumed that the generated organic material had a density close to 1 g cm−3. However, the spores were mixed and coated with a flow enhancement agent, fumed amorphous silica with a higher density. The BG spores, stored for more than 40 years, appeared to be more culturable by spreading than by settling (by a factor of about 20); the BaS spores were more culturable by spreading than settling by a factor of about 1.3.Figure 7a shows a particle potentially containing a single BG spore; since no uncoated single spores were observed, this suggests that virtually all single spores remained coated with silica. The coating apparently solidified from exposure to water in the air over the years of sample storage and use. However, multiple spores or clumps were found frequently and these were often largely uncoated as indicated in Figure 7b. The reason for the difference in coating adherence to different sized particles is unclear. The BaS spore particles were not analyzed by SEM because of potential safety issues.

    • DXer said

      After the 2001 anthrax incidents and the report by GAO that additional methological validation of sampling collection and analytical methods should be conducted, studies such as the one featured by Lew above and this study were done. (The one below was done by Dugway, CDC, and EPA authors). In each study, the method involved the addition of ten percent (by weight) of an amorphous silica-based flow enhancer to the dried spores.

      Appl Environ Microbiol. Jul 2009; 75(13): 4297–4306.
      Published online May 8, 2009. doi: 10.1128/AEM.02549-08
      PMCID: PMC2704799

      Cheryl Fairfield Estill,1,* Paul A. Baron,1 Jeremy K. Beard,2 Misty J. Hein,1 Lloyd D. Larsen,2 Laura Rose,3 Frank W. Schaefer, III,4 Judith Noble-Wang,3 Lisa Hodges,3 H. D. Alan Lindquist,4 Gregory J. Deye,1 and Matthew J. Arduino3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 4676 Columbia Parkway, Cincinnati, Ohio 45226,1 Dugway Proving Ground, P.O. Box 217, Dugway, Utah 84022,2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Center for Infectious Diseases, 1600 Clifton Road, N.E., Atlanta, Georgia 30333,3 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Homeland Security Research Center, 26 W. M. L. King Drive, Cincinnati, Ohio 452684

      *Corresponding author. Mailing address: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, MS R-14, 4676 Columbia Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45226. Phone: (513) 841-4476. Fax: (513) 841-4486. E-mail:CEstill@cdc.gov

      ABSTRACT

      After the 2001 anthrax incidents, surface sampling techniques for biological agents were found to be inadequately validated, especially at low surface loadings.

      ***

      The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that additional methodological validation of sampling collection and analytical methods should be conducted to enhance the interpretation of negative sampling results because initial samples from two postal facilities were negative, but later samples were positive (17). The GAO (17) report defined validation as “… a formal and independently administered empirical process. For validation, the overall performance characteristics of a given method must be certified as meeting the specified requirements for intended use and as conforming with applicable standards.” Currently, there is no preexisting standard for a presumable safe level of surface contamination with B. anthracis spores that may be assessed through sampling and analysis.

      MATERIALS AND METHODS

      ***

      The culture was incubated at 30°C in a 10-liter fermentation vessel with an agitation rate of 250 rpm and an aeration rate greater than 0.5 volume min−1. Sporulation was generally complete within 24 h. Spores were collected by simple centrifugation to remove spent media. The pelleted material was dried by a proprietary azeotropic method. Ten percent (by weight) of an amorphous silica-based flow enhancer was added to the dried spores. The dried material was milled using an exclusionary ball mill. In this process, the material passed through a series of stages separated by increasingly finer mesh screens. In each stage, 0.01-m-diameter steel balls forced the product through the screen separators. A pneumatic vibrator actuated the entire mill. The resulting spores were approximately 1.0 μm.

      Comment:

      Dr. Majidi of the FBI has explained that the silica could have been in the medium to grow the spores. It is notable that the DARPA-funded suitemates of Ali Al-Timimi in Spring 2001 had co-invented a method to concentrate anthrax using silica in the growth medium.

      http://www.amerithrax.wordpress.com

    • DXer said

      Bacterial endospore inactivation caused by outgassing of vapourous hydrogen peroxide from polymethyl methacrylate (Plexiglas®)
      • P.A. Baron1,
      • C.F. Estill1,
      • J.K. Beard2,
      • M.J. Hein1and
      • L. Larsen2

      Author Information
      • 1 National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Cincinnati, OH, USA
      • 2 U.S. Army Dugway Proving Ground, Dugway, UT, USA

      http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1472-765X.2007.02209.x/full
      Article first published online: 14 AUG 2007

      Letters in Applied Microbiology
      Volume 45, Issue 5, pages 485–490,November 2007

      In the present study, researchers at US Army Dugway Proving Ground constructed a particle settling chamber (1·22 m × 1·22 m × 2·44 m, consisting largely of static dissipative Plexiglas® in an aluminum framework) in which a powder preparation of B. anthracis strain Sterne (BaS) mixed with fumed silica was aerosolized.

      ***

      Ten per cent (by weight) of an amorphous silica-based flow enhancer was added .. The dried material was milled using an exclusionary ball mill. In this process, the material passed through a series of stages separated by increasingly finer mesh screens. In each stage, 0·01-m diameter steel balls forced the product through the screen separators. A pneumatic vibrator actuated the entire mill.

      Acknowledgements

      The authors would like to thank those who assisted with this project: Donald Booher, Nancy Burton and Millie Schafer of National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH); Frank Schaefer and Alan Lindquist of EPA; Laura Rose, Judith Noble-Wang and Matthew Arduino of CDC; and John Wright of the Dugway Proving Ground.

      Comment:

      As I best recall, it was our own “Anonymous” who with the assistance of DC counsel forced the production under FOIA that the the mailed anthrax was 10% silica by weight. But I’ll leave it to Anonymous or GAO or the qualified scientists to address the scientific issues.

    • DXer said

      Two scientists walk into a bar. “I’ll have an H2O,” says the first. “I’ll have an H2O, too,” says the second. The second man dies.

      He hadn’t readn’t the science.

      Fumigation of a laboratory‐scale HVAC system with hydrogen peroxide for decontamination following a biological contamination incident
      KM Meyer, MW Calfee, JP Wood… – Journal of applied …, 2013 – Wiley Online Library

      … where they were deposited as an aerosol, resembling the dry powder aggregate that formed
      over surfaces in the 2001 anthrax incidents. … Spores of B. subtilis (ATCC 19659; Manassas, VA)
      were used in combination with silicon dioxide particles as a surrogate for the …

      Evaluation of surface sampling for Bacillus spores using commercially available cleaning robots
      SD Lee, MW Calfee, L Mickelsen, S Wolfe… – … science & technology, 2013 – ACS Publications

      … A powdered spore preparation of B. atrophaeus (ATCC 9372, Manassas, VA) and silicon dioxide
      particles, developed specifically for use as a surrogate for weaponized B. anthracis spores, was
      used in the current study.(12) The sterilized coupons were inoculated using the …

      Evaluation of Expedient Decontamination Options with Activated Peroxide-based Liquid Sporicides
      W Calfee – 2013 – DTIC Document

      … of the material for ultimate disposal [2, 3, 5, 6]. Following the 2001 anthrax incidents, a combination …
      of B. atrophaeus American Type Culture Collection (ATCC) 9372 and silicon dioxide particles. …
      by dry blending and jet milling the dried spores with fumed silica particles (Deguss …

    • Anonymous said

      There are no real implications here. Every military scientist knows perfectly well that the attack of 2001 used spores that were worked up for aerosolization – and this paper is just yet another example of that. It’s not as if they are trying to pretend that the spores were downgraded to garbage – as the FBI have to do in order to keep the “Ivins did it alone” fairytale narrative.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: