ULSB academic explains what a novichok attack on Heathrow Airport would look like

Posted by pm357 at Sep 10, 2018 09:07 AM |
An attack at the airport would be catastrophic according to Dr Simon Bennett
ULSB academic explains what a novichok attack on Heathrow Airport would look like

Dr Simon Bennett

Dr Simon Bennett, Director of the Civil Safety and Security Unit (CSSU) at the University Of Leicester School Of Business, has used his expertise in aviation security to help warn of the potential dangers of a novichok attack on London’s Heathrow airport in The Independent newspaper.

Bruhn NewTech, a technology company specialising in modelling, warns that nearly 2,500 people could come into contact with the deadly nerve agent novichok if it were used to attack someone at Heathrow Airport. Novichok is a series of nerve agents developed by the Soviet Union and Russia between 1971 and 1993.

Novichok has been in the news recently as the US, France, Germany and Canada have agreed with the UK's assessment that Russia's government "almost certainly" approved the Salisbury poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. Two Russian nationals, both agents of the GRU, the intelligence arm of the Russian military, have been named as suspects.

Police have linked the attack on the Skripals to a separate Novichok poisoning on 30 June, when Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley became unwell at a house in Amesbury, about eight miles from Salisbury. Ms Sturgess died from her injuries.

Following these attacks, Dr Bennett was asked by The Independent to provide his expert opinion on how dangerous novichok could be if used at Heathrow Airport. Heathrow, the second busiest airport in the world, is considered to be particularly vulnerable.

Dr Bennett said Heathrow was a “prime site” for such an attack due to its status as a totem, similar to Westminster, the London underground or the UK’s railway stations. Dr Bennett said the contamination trail would be “very extensive” and could lead to the closure of the entire terminal, “not just for days, but potentially for weeks”. He described novichok, which is thought to have been smuggled into Britain through an airport in a “discreet” container, as “pernicious and persistent”.

So how can Britain prepare for, or prevent such an attack? Dr Bennett explains: “While we are right to rehearse our responses to terrorist attacks, I contend that the best defence is a well-funded intelligence service. Prevention is better than cure. Under-investing in MI5, MI6 and the police increases our risk-exposure. In my opinion, monies should be diverted from education and healthcare to fund security”.

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To read the Independent article please click here.