CBRNe World News Briefs

AMERICAS

Between the 30th and the 31st of December 2021, a massive sewage spill in Los Angeles County caused the release of circa 30 million liters of untreated sewage into the Dominguez Channels. The spill originated in Carson, where a concrete pipe collapsed. At least five beaches were closed because of the high level of pollution in the water. In the following week, the level went back to normal and the beaches were gradually reopened. The spill, one of the worst registered in the area, was probably due to the old infrastructure and the heavy rains that preceded the collapse. New modeling data produced at the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington’s School shows that the new Omicron variant of the Covid-19 pandemic could cause a massive surge of the infections reaching a total of 140 million positives in the US territory, between 1st of January and the 1st of March. The peak is expected at the end of January with 2.8 million daily infections. In the afternoon of Thursday 13th January, an explosion occurred in an industrial business in Ottawa, Canada. The fire has started engulfing the tanker truck manufacturer’s building on Merivale Road. The operations to contain the flames continued for the entire afternoon, with activities to suck up any contaminated water and to take constant air quality samples. Three men were transported to the hospital and died the day after. One man has reported injuries, and another has been released from the hospital a few hours after the accident. Other five people initially accounted as missing, have been declared dead after the finding of During the night of the 14th of January, a massive fire developed at a chemical plant in Passaic, New Jersey, USA. Several hundred firefighters were deployed between Friday and Saturday, to avert explosions and the spread of the flames that engulfed 100,000 pounds of chlorine. The operations managed to limit the blaze that did not reach the main chemical plant and the bigger storage of chemicals. The three-story building totally collapsed. The black toxic smoke was detected by the weather radars of the areas.

EUROPE

On January the 1st, an explosion in a residential building in the Belgian city of Turnhout killed four people. The detonation took place in one of the fourteen apartments of the building, creating a major damages, with the collapse of the roof and of a façade. On Thursday 6th January, Britain’s Farming and Environment Minister has announced that the legislation meant to ease the regulatory framework for gene editing, planned after the exit from the European Union, will focus on crops and – at least initially- not on animals. Gene editing is supposed to help reduce the reliance on synthetic chemical pesticides and to produce crops more adapt to face the challenges related to climate change, but opponents fear that the technology will be used to support corporate interest and possibly introduce new types of threats.

AFRICA

In January 2022, it has been announced that the long-running demining project in two districts of Somalia reached the finish line. Dhabad and Galdogob, the two districts in the province of Galmudug and Puntland, have been declared landmine free, thanks to the work of the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS), supported by the HALO Trust and the support of the European Union that funded the project. Systematic clearance of minefields and hazardous areas and the destruction of unexploded ordnance were successfully conducted on an area of more than 3 and a half million square meters. On the 2nd of January, the South African parliament's most ancient building was damaged by a large fire probably caused by human action. The fire broke in the early morning and managed to devastate the building, while around 100 firefighters were deployed to contain the flames. It is highly probable that the sprinkler system was sabotaged. A man in his 50s was arrested, charged initially with arson and later with terrorism. Since the beginning of the year, the forces of MINUSCA (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic) have identified five improvised explosive devices; two of them did not detonate, while the other three exploded damaging vehicles of the Central African Forces (FACA) and of the MINUSCA mission. According to the spokesman of the MINUSCA forces, these episodes represent a prof of a new tactic employed by the rebel group 3R to hinder the operations of the security forces. On Sunday 16th January, an explosion at a road junction in Mogadishu, Somalia, wounded the Government’s spokesperson. The al Qaeda-linked Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack. The spokesperson, Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu, was reported to be in stable conditions.

MIDDLE EAST

On 15th January, rumors spread about the sound of an explosion heard in different cities in Western Iran. The loud noise was reported during the night of Saturday by citizens of cities in the provinces of Kermanshah, Hamedan, and Kordestan. The first official comment stated that the sound was due to a thunderstorm, but the version has been rejected by the Governor of the Asadabad city in the Hamadan province. Later claims suggested that the Iran's Revolutionary Guard launched an air defense drills in the region. From social media emerged the hypothesis of an explosion close to the Khatam al-Anbia Air Defense Base, that, however, denied any explosion.

ASIA

On the 6th of January, at 4:00 am local time, a chemical leak in a dying and printing mill in Surat, Gujarat State, India, caused the death of six people and the hospitalisation of further 22 workers. According to officials, toxic fumes leaked from a tanker illegally discharging chemicals close to the mill. The chemicals possibly reacted with other substances already present and with water causing the toxic fumes. On the 7th January, at around noon local time, an explosion erupted in a staff canteen in Chongqing’ Wulong district, in southwestern China. The gas blast caused the partial collapse of the building. According to the state broadcaster CCTV, at least 16 people were killed. According to local sources, the Ministry of Emergency Management dispatched a team of more than 600 personnel to support the operations. On the 10th of January three deminers working for the non-profit NGO "Cambodian Self Help Demining" have lost their lives in an anti-tank mine explosion in Choam Ksant district, Preah Vihear province, northwestern Cambodia. The accident took place at 11:30 am. The first vice president of the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA), Ly Thuch, said the anti-tank mine erupted during the operations to defuse it.

OCEANIA

On the 14th January, 4:00 am local time, a truck transporting chemicals caught fire on the Eyre Highway at Coorabie, about 100 kilometers west of Ceduna, in South Australia’s far west. The Police and the Country Fire Service (CFS) were forced to close the road that is the main connection to Western Australia. A big amount of the chemical, which is believed to be cyanide-based, spilled on the road, while toxic smoke was covering the area of the accident. The truck driver managed to escape, without major injuries.