Officials Fear U.S. Is Ill-Equipped to Deal With Biological or Chemical Terrorism

September 18, 2001 | Source: The Wall Street Journal

The U.S. is woefully unprepared to deal with chemical and biological threats, according to government and think-tank reports.

The public-health infrastructure is a “tattered web.” Studies revealed that only one in five hospitals had any response plan for biochemical weapons, less than half had decontamination units with showers, and less than a third had enough antidote for a cloud of nerve gas like the 1995 Tokyo subway attack. In addition, only about 3% of likely domestic emergency responders have been trained in the past five years in dealing with the effects of weapons of mass destruction.

The CDC, meanwhile, is spending about $50 million a year to stockpile antibiotics to treat the major diseases that have been the focus of known biological-weapons programs.