ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md., December 6, 2013 – Two Edgewood Chemical Biological Center scientists detailed to the Department of Homeland Security/Chemical Security Analysis Center were recently honored as recipients of the 2013 Federal Laboratory Consortium Mid-Atlantic Regional Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer for their work on Project Jack Rabbit.
Dr. Shannon Fox and Mr. Adolfo Negron led the successful execution of Project Jack Rabbit, a series of highly-instrumented, multi-ton chlorine and ammonia field release trials with the purpose of filling critical knowledge and data gaps for large-scale toxic inhalation hazard incidents. The work enables the chemical and railroad industries to operate more safely.
A railway car carrying chemicals through the heart of a city is a common site. That everyday occurrence turned tragic in 2005 when a freight train collision led to the release of 60 tons of chlorine gas in Graniteville, S.C. Nine people were killed. Another
250 were treated for chlorine gas exposure. In all, 5400 residents within one mile of the crash site were forced to evacuate for nearly two weeks while the site was decontaminated. The disaster cost the country $30 to $40 million.
Project Jack Rabbit was conceptualized and planned after Congressional leaders expressed concerns that 90-ton railcars filled with chlorine and other toxic inhalation hazard chemicals passing through metropolitan areas were potential terrorist targets. In 2010, with DHS Transportation Security Administration and DHS Science & Technology Directorate as co-sponsors, the DHS Chemical Security Analysis Center initiated the project.
“The Jack Rabbit field trials were an amazing example of how a wide range of different organizations – government and industry – worked together and benefited from a unique series of outdoor field trials,“ said George Famini, Ph.D., director of the DHS Chemical Security Analysis Center.
The trials helped develop data necessary to improve modeling of toxic inhalation hazardsreleased from potential accidents or terrorist attacks on chemical storage tanks or railcars. Project Jack Rabbit also developed a web-based data repository, which hosts and distributes the project’s extensive data, videos, and reports. From these resources, new insights, enhanced training and novel risk mitigation strategies continue to be developed for the chemical and railroad industries.
The FLC award was the result of Project Jack Rabbit technology being transitioned to the private sector via four major trade associations representing hundreds of industrial members, including the Chlorine Institute, the Ammonia Safety & Training Institute, The Fertilizer Institute and the Association of American Railroads. Technology transfer occurred through presentations at industry meetings and national-level training programs; distribution of data, modeling and knowledge products through the Jack Rabbit website; and a cooperative research and development agreement established between Chemical Security Analysis Center and the Chlorine Institute.
“This transfer will enable risk reduction, safety improvements, mitigation and cost avoidance for industries in the case of a toxic inhalation hazard chemical release incident”, said Dr. Fox during his acceptance speech on November 14, 2013 at the FLC Mid-Atlantic Annual Conference.
“Under the sponsorship and leadership of DHS Chemical Security Analysis Center and the TSA, results from these tests are currently being used in training HAZMAT operators and first responders in DoD, and local communities at chemical plants and facilities. The impact of this project has been very broad and far reaching,” said Dr. Famini.
The FLC is a nationwide network of federal laboratories that provides the forum to develop opportunities for linking federal laboratory technologies and expertise with industry. The mission of the FLC is to add value to the federal agencies, laboratories and their partners to accomplish the rapid integration of research and development resources within the mainstream of the U.S. economy. The Mid-Atlantic Region of the FLC comprises more than70 federal laboratories and agencies across Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.
For more information about ECBC, visit http://www.ecbc.army.mil/.