We were delighted to hear about the recent defence agreement signed between the UK and Japan that will safeguard a framework of collaboration for research, development and production of defence equipment. The agreement, the first of its kind internationally, will focus on defence, including the CBRN defence industry, and will bring together expertise, skills and knowledge within the defence industries.
We recently wrote about a discovery that highlighted the value of preparation in order to effectively deal with disasters when they occur. Since 2011, Japanese engineers have struggled to regain control of the damaged Fukushima power plant. Japan’s geography and a huge earthquake of the magnitude they’d not experienced before made the Fukushima plant vulnerable to an unprecedented disaster on a scale they wouldn’t have imagined. We hope that collaboration between nations will lead to more effective solutions for dealing with potentially harmful nuclear incidents when they occur.
The Fukushima incident has illustrated how natural disasters can become CBRN incidents in ways we wouldn’t have previously expected. The recent Firefighters of Chernobyl story is another example of this, describing how wildfires can cause dormant radiation to be released back into the atmosphere.
The Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo Subway in March 1995 brought to worldwide attention the fact that chemical weapons can be harnessed by terrorist organisations. Valuable lessons have been learnt from the incident, resulting in amendments and improvements to CBRN preparedness plans around the world. Just last week, the New York Police Department ran tests to simulate and understand how harmful chemicals might flow through their subway system.
The UK’s transport networks have also seen high profile instances of terrorism in recent years, although largely focusing on explosives rather than chemicals. While instances of these attacks are thankfully rare, a coordinated and realistic approach to defence, training and problem solving will continue to take place for the foreseeable future. Indeed, our CBRN detector simulators allow users to replicate releases of chemical attacks as they would occur in a real life incident.
With the first collaborative project set to focus on Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear protection, a sector we have been involved in for more than 26 years, it is certainly an exciting time for UK and Japanese CBRN professionals, and indeed, the CBRN response community on an international scale.