Ireland forces to train against biothreats

A major British electronics company will help train defense forces in Ireland to deal with industrial or terrorist industries involving chemical and biological agents.

Argon Electronics of Luton, England, won the contract to supply a virtual chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear system to train operatives to deal with hazardous situations, according to the Independent. This year alone, army bomb disposal teams have been called out 14 times to deal with hazardous chemical substances in Ireland.

On Friday, a highly unstable and dangerous chemical was discovered in a science lab at Ashbourne Community School in Co Meath. The chemical, 2.4 dinitrophenylhydrazine, is potentially explosive and could have blown out the doors and windows of the lab.

The chemical was discovered during a routine audit of chemicals at the school. Army experts removed the chemical to a nearby waste ground and later carried out a controlled explosion.

The Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams have also been trained to deal with nuclear or biological materials. The British firm was involved in a major U.K. simulation earlier in the year when emergency services needed to deal with the aftermath of a terrorism attack where a radioactive material was released after a plane hijack.

Similar exercises have been held in Ireland, including Operation Contained Freedom in February in Dublin Port. That scenario involved Army experts, gardai and firemen and dealt with a mock "dirty bomb" – a terrorist weapon that uses conventional explosives to disperse deadly germs or radioactive material.