Sunday, January 09, 2005

Homeland Security Follies

There've been some very exciting developments in homeland security this week. First off, here's a short follow-up on my earlier post about the apparently unregulated sale of botulinum toxin through the mail:

Federal officials are scrambling to locate and seize dozens of vials of deadly botulinum toxin, more than $53,000 worth, shipped to South Florida by a company that investigators say was pushing it as an alternative to wrinkle-smoothing licensed Botox.


Health Director Malecki...said, "Where is Homeland Security on this? If you can buy the most lethal toxin known to man (botulinum) over the phone, why hasn't something been done?...$53,000 worth of this stuff could kill a lot of people." Link.
Things are not going as well as they might in terms of protecting Americans from radiation, either:
Radiation monitors that would sound alarms in Trenton if readings around the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant climbed to unhealthy levels remain broken and beyond repair after the federal government denied the state funding to replace them. Link.
Meanwhile, the Department of Energy has appointed a serial violator of hazmat regulations to an advisory board that will "make recommendations on the storage and disposal of nuclear and other hazardous waste generated at DOE's Oak Ridge operations."

And of course, the recent rail disaster in South Carolina underscored what safety officials told BushCo almost a year ago:
[M]ore than half of the nation's 60,000 pressurized rail tank cars did not meet industry standards, and...could rupture too easily in an accident....
It also underscores what the FBI told BushCo way back in 2002:
Al Qaeda might be planning to attack trains in the United States, possibly causing derailments or blowing up tank cars laden with hazardous materials.
To be fair, some progress has been made in protecting important Americans from hazmat disasters:
[A]fter bombings on commuter trains killed 191 people in Spain last March, security officials secretly persuaded one railroad to reroute toxic shipments that had routinely passed within four blocks of the Capitol in Washington....
Not bad, eh? An impressive array of homegrown biological, nuclear, and chemical threats...all of them dangerous in and of themselves, all of them presenting opportunities for terrorists, and all of them ignored or mismanaged by the Bush administration.

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