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“Dr. Death”–Head of South Africa’s Biological & Chemical Weapons Program

Cape Town, South Africa Credit: NASA The South African chemical and biological warfare program, called “Project Coast,” was established in 1981 under the apartheid regime, violating the Biological Toxins and Weapons Convention of 1972.  The project’s researchers studied Bacillus anthracis (anthrax), Vibrio colerae (cholera), salmonella and Botulinum toxin, in addition to a variety of chemical agents, such as MDMA (ecstasy), PCP, muscle relaxants and nerve agents.  Unlike the chemical agents, the biological agents were not produced on a large scale and were neither weaponized nor meant for combat.   Instead, the program focused on using biological agents for assassination of those who challenged the government.  The agents produced were used by the South African Defense Force and police.   The secretive Project Coast had no civilian and extremely limited military oversight.  Only the former head of Project Coast, Dr. Wouter Basson, knew the agents being studied, how they were used and how much they cost.   Dr. Basson was nicknamed “Dr. Death,” and allegedly arranged the killing of many political dissidents.  In one case, he arranged for the South West African People’s Organization’s (SWAPO) water supply to be contaminated with V colerae, killing 200 people.  Court testimonies indicate that Dr. Basson directed work on contraceptives, with the intent to deliver them to unknowing individuals.  Project Coast ended in 1993 due to diplomatic pressure from the United States and the United Kingdom. 

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Yucca Mountain – Packaging and Storing Radioactive Waste

So – thus far we’ve gone over a little of the history of the Yucca Mountain project and how both geology and hydrogeology can affect waste disposal. What I thought could be interesting today would be to talk a little about how the spent reactor fuel is packaged – both for transport and for disposal […] The post Yucca Mountain – Packaging and Storing Radioactive Waste appears on ScienceWonk, FAS's blog for opinions from guest experts and leaders.

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A foolish consistency

Consistency is good – there’s a sense of security in knowing that some things will generally remain constant over time. We can always count on gravity, for example, to hold us firmly to the ground; politicians are typically pandering and self-serving; I can count on radioactivity to consistently decay away; and so forth. Of course, […] The post A foolish consistency appears on ScienceWonk, FAS's blog for opinions from guest experts and leaders.

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