Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Was There a Possible CBW Event at Scott AFB in Illinois?

By Jerry Gordon
HAZMAT team at Scott Air Force Base

Shades of the 2001anthrax terror events.  A suspicious’ sulfur spelling package somehow got into the  post office at the  US Transportation Command  located at Scott AFB in Southern Illinois-about 25 miles east of St. Louis across the Mississippi River.  You may recall that those 2001 Amerithrax terror packages sent by mail started a week following 9/11 and shut down  Congressional offices and resulted in the deaths of  5 people and infecting a dozen  individuals.

For a discussion of the 2001 Anthrax attacks and  capabilitie  by  sponsors of Middle East terror groups, see our interview with Dr. Jill Dekker on Syria's Bio-warfare threat in the December, 2007 edition of the NER.  Given the  current threats from al Qaeda and  affiliate Islamic terrorist groups, the FBI had heightened concerns about possible attacks in anticipation of the 10th anniversary of 9/11, next Sunday. Today’s possible CBW event will doubtless increase the ‘fear factor’ and raise both national and homeland security levels, pending forensic examination of the contents of the mail package received at Scott AFB and examination of the persons immediately affected by the exposure.  In the small world of things, Vice Admiral Anne E. Rondeau, now President of the National Defense University was Deputy Commander of the United States Transportation Command at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois from December 2006 to 2009. See our NER article, here.

Here are the current details from a FoxNews report,  “3 Hospitalized After Suspicious Parcel at Air Base.”

Three people were hospitalized Wednesday and a hazmat team responded to a post office at Scott Air Force Base after a suspicious package was discovered.

The three apparently broke out in a rash and were treated at a nearby hospital. Over a dozen others at the mail center were being decontaminated as a precaution at the mail center.

Authorities are directing any base personnel who visited its post office Wednesday and exhibit any abnormal symptoms to report to a Pronto's Pizza, reported. Loud speakers on the base could be heard warning personnel to avoid the west side of the base, reported.

The package uncovered Wednesday morning prompted precautionary evacuations of the base's education center, bowling alley and other services near the mail center.

Garland didn't have any information on what made the package suspicious, although local media reported it emitted a sulphur-like smell.

Garland says the hospitalized people showed no symptoms other than the rash. There is no immediate threat to the community, the base said in a statement.

With the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks less than two weeks away, Scott spokesman Thomas Kistler said no extra precautions were in place on the base. He said officials are not treating this as a potential terrorist incident.

"I think they're treating it as a normal suspicious package right now," he said.

The package discovered Wednesday morning prompted precautionary evacuations of the base's education center, bowling alley and other services near the mail center. Kistler said officials were confident there was no reason for anyone else to leave.

"We have evacuated an area around the package but we haven't enlarged the evacuation area," he said. "We don't anticipate there's any danger to the rest of the base or to the community as a whole."

Ferrero said the area had been cordoned off although she did not believe there was any immediate danger. She noted that the base routinely performs exercises for incidents like this and was ready to respond.

"We are reacting on the side of caution," she said.

Master Sgt. Jerome Baysmore said "several" firefighters at the base were overcome by heat and treated by on-base medics. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that four firefighters affected.

Traffic flowed in and out of the base through one of the main gates by late morning.

The air base is near Mascoutah, Ill., about 25 miles east of St. Louis, and serves as a global mobility and transportation hub for the Defense Department. The base is home to the U.S. Transportation Command, Air Mobility Command, the 618th Air and Space Operations Center and Air Force Network Integration Center. It is also one of four bases in the Air Force to house both a Reserve unit -- the 932nd Airlift Wing -- and an Air National Guard unit -- the 126th Air Refueling Wing.

The base's Web site says its population is 45,749.

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