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CHEMICAL, BIOLOGICAL & RADIOLOGICAL THREATS TO AVIATION:


WHAT ARE WE UP AGAINST?


Security has been a critical issue for civil aviation for decades; airports and aircraft have proved to be susceptible targets for terrorist attacks and incidents still occur despite the strict security measures in place. Since the end of the Cold War new threats have also emerged, including the risk of terrorists using Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) materials. It is therefore important to have insight into these threats to civil aviation. However, this is easier said than done; CBRN is not a simple concept. For each of the four letters of the acronym, there are multiple sub- categories of agents. The large number of CBRN agents in combination with a hard-to- estimate number of potential terrorists, results in a wide-ranging threat spectrum that does not allow for easily targeted countermeasures. Ilja M. Bonsen and Elsa Schrier present an overview of the threat of Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Enhanced Explosives (CBRNe) terrorism against civil aviation based on their risk assessment methodology which was also used by the European Union to develop the lists of agents it deems necessary to monitor for CBRNe threats.


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ttacks with CBRN agents have a low probability but, should they occur, potentially enormous impact. When a terrorist uses an automatic weapon or an explosive device, he creates a hazard with a bang - a clear and immediate danger. For CBRN this is different as the real danger only comes into play after the bang…if there is a bang at all. Releasing a chemical or biological agent can easily go unnoticed. However, the consequences of such a release will not go unnoticed and the agent can show its lethality days or weeks after the attack was perpetrated. Whilst terrorism is, in essence, political violence, CBRN agents are the ultimate political weapons. The fear and societal impact of merely the threat of a CBRN incident can have a larger impact than an actual attack utilising traditional explosives. Besides the societal impact, the practical consequences of an attack can also be long-lasting. Contamination with CBRN agents can make an area unusable and uninhabitable for years. This was the case with the buildings, postal offices and Senate in the United States, that were contaminated with Anthrax in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. It took years and cost over one billion dollars to decontaminate the sites.


What do CBRN Weapons Look Like? This is the million dollar question. CBRN agents can come in any form. Sarin is often transported as a liquid and vaporises quickly at room temperature.


April 2013 Aviationsecurityinternational


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