Monday 14 October 2019

Defence Forces gear up to deal with chemical and biological attack

Operation: Defence Forces Ordnance Corps at the scene. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin
Operation: Defence Forces Ordnance Corps at the scene. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin
Ian Begley

Ian Begley

A staged chemical/biological threat took place at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel, yesterday in an operation that tested how the Defence Forces deal with such attacks.

The simulation demonstrated how members of the Defence Forces Ordnance Corps dispose of life-threatening substances and the subsequent procedures in analysing the threat.

Those who took part used robots and unmanned aerial vehicles to help minimise the risk to operators while collecting physical evidence and preserving the chain of custody.

The aim of the exercise was to demonstrate how the remotely operated scene assessment system can fundamentally improve how chemical, biological and radiological/nuclear (CBRN) incidents are examined.

This in turn will help protect the lives of crime-scene investigators by reducing their need to enter dangerous scenes to gather evidence.

Last year, the Defence Forces held a similar exercise as part of a project to prepare them in the event of a chemical or nuclear attack.

The use of chemical agents was brought to international attention last year after the attack in the UK on a former Russian double agent and his daughter.

Sergei and Yulia Skripal were both hospitalised and left in a critical condition after being targeted with a nerve agent.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) confirmed that the nerve agent originally came from Russia.

Exercises like these are said to be changing how CBRN threats are assessed, while minimising the risk to the lives of crime scene investigators in "dirty bomb" type scenarios.

The Irish Defence Forces are currently the lead agency in a major EU project to minimise the risk to the lives of crime-scene investigators in a "dirty bomb" attack.

The research has already received €4.78m funding from the EU Horizon 2020 programme.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News