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Rotary learns about terrorism

The Tyrone Rotary Club had a special guest speaker at its meeting last night. Charlie Grayburn, emergency operations manager with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, was the guest speaker and the topic was terrorism.
Grayburn went through the history of terrorism, the significance of the threat from bin Laden’s terror network and then talked about how terrorism could impact a small town like Tyrone.
“In looking at terrorism in the future, we have seen higher than ever levels of violence,” said Grayburn. “Although technology aides in the defense of terrorism, it also provides terrorists with increased opportunities. It gives the terrorists the opportunities to cause ecological disasters, chemical weapons and weapons of mass destruction. I feel that terrorism is just as much a concern to the average citizen of Tyrone as it is for me, a citizen of Washington D.C.
“You are only about 170 miles outside of Washington D.C.,” said Grayburn. “You are well within the footprint of a nuclear device. You have heard about a ‘dirty bomb’. Although a dirty bomb will do little damage to an actual structure, the fallout from a dirty bomb is very scary. With the right wind pattern, it would be only hours before that dust cloud would be heading toward Pennsylvania and New York City. The threat of chemical and biological weapons is very real. I have had an anthrax and small pox inoculation. I have a chemical and biological kit. I have been through hours and hours of training. There is a significant threat that exists. It is significant enough that the government has taken steps to equip first responders who deal with this threat.”
Grayburn talked about how Tyrone can deal with such a threat.
“These elements can be on the move at anytime, anywhere and any place,” said Grayburn. “As I drove in here last night, I drove up I-99. With me were hundreds and hundreds of trucks. No one has any idea what is inside those trucks. Two individuals who are contaminated with a chemical or biological device are going to travel. If we have a person who comes from Europe who has been spraying VX gas the population of Washington D.C., and I come to Tyrone, I have contaminated you.”
Grayburn talked about possible targets in the Tyrone area.
“State College is 20 miles from here and has a nuclear reactor,” said Grayburn. “What is even more scary about State College is Penn State University.
“Penn State receives more federal grant money than any other university in the northeast. Your political and religious based terrorists know that. They know if they hit a campus like Penn State, they are going to stop important medical research and other research that is conducted there. Penn State also hosts football games where you have a stadium with over 100,000 people gathered. You don’t have the protected element that you have in Washington. You don’t have a fighter cap flying overhead during a football game. You don’t have some of the other first responder tools that Washington has and it makes you an ideal target.
“In Altoona, you have a fuel farm or depot that has as much fuel as we have at Washington Dulles airport,” Grayburn continued. “If an individual launched a shoulder device, the blast footprint would take out I-99 and take out a good portion of the surrounding community.”
The railroad is of significant importance to law enforcement at this time according to Grayburn.
“We use railroads to move troops, supplies and to support the infrastructure of this country,” said Grayburn. “A few hits at key points and you have all but shut down commerce in the United States.”
When Grayburn talked to his co-workers in the Department of Homeland Security, he asked what would be the most significant impact on Central Pennsylvania?
“The most significant place of concern in Central Pennsylvania is Breezewood,” said Grayburn. “Through Breezewood passes more commerce and more vehicles in one day than any other small town in America. That is a significant concern. The Department of Homeland Security and PEMA (Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency) are working to identify what they can do to improve the security of Breezewood. It would take a very small device to destroy the entrance and exit of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.”
In part two of Grayburn’s talk with the Rotary club, he answers the questions and concerns of club members.