Jan 19 2007

Mercury In LA Station, Link to Litvinenko?

The Litvinenko saga is still, disturbingly, unsolved with possibly (and probably) a significant amount of the extremely dangerous Po-210 still unaccounted for. One of the strangest late breaking stories related to the Litvinenko poisoning was out of Russia, where authorities were seeing a connection between Yukos-related oligarchs in exile and a series of potential Mercury poisoning events in Russia:

Prosecutor General’s Office said yesterday it suspects former co-owner of YUKOS Leonid Nevzlin of being involved in the poisoning of former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko in London. Nevzlin also became suspected in being linked to the “poisoning of Russian citizens with toxic agents”.

The Office claims that investigators established connection between this crime and a certain attempt at poisoning by means of mercury. The Office says that mercury vapors “were found in cars, apartments, country houses, and offices both in Moscow and in London”. It has already created an investigatory group to probe into those crimes. The Office intends to prepare documents soon and to “direct requests for legal help in the criminal cases under investigation to corresponding competent authorities, and to raise the question of extradition of several citizens charged with heavy crimes who are taking refuge abroad”.

It is not accidental that mercury vapors appeared in the case. Former head of MENATEP bank’s investment management Alexei Golubovich, arrested in Italy this spring, gave testimony that there was an attempt to poison him and his family with mercury which was left in his offices, home, and car. Golubovich said that Nevzlin might be interested in poisoning him, because YUKOS shareholders and CEOs were then arguing over who would control foreign property and funds of the company. Some time later, London witnessed a scandal when a Scotland Yard officer handed over information on extradition to Russia of London-based Russian citizens to British security agency ISC Global. The agency was part of MENATEP, and Nevzlin, among others, used its services. Polonium trace was discovered in November in the office of former ISC Global, which is now called RISC Management.

I was trying to make the connection between Mercury and Polonium without much luck the first time around. But then I recalled Po-210 can be disolved in salts, and mercury salts can be used make a whole bunch of commonly used salt compounds. Just check out the potential ways a Po-210/Mercury Salt could be used to expose a lot of people to Polonium through normal products:

» Mercuric Salt
We manufacture a range of Mercury Salts that tend to be powders or crystals at room temperature. These are manufactured by bonding mercury with elements like oxygen, chlorine or sulphur. Our range of Mercury Salt includes Mercuric Chloride, Mercuric Iodide, Calomel, Mercuric Oxide, etc.

» Mercuric Chloride
We offer superior quality Mercuric Chloride used widely as an antiseptic, disinfectant, in insecticides, preservatives, batteries, metallurgy and photography. It is also used as a fungicide in dilute solutions.

» Mercuric Iodide
We offer Mercuric Iodide, used widely in the manufacture of medicines and Nestler’s & Mayer’s reagents. These offer high solubility in alcohol and turn yellow above 150°C.

» Mercurous Chloride (Calomel)
We offer Mercurous Chloride, also known as Calomel, used widely in manufacturing medicines, as purgatives and insecticides. These consist of fine tetragonal crystals and are insoluble in water. These contain mercurous chloride, mercury metal, and potassium chloride solution and are popularly used to measure pH values.

» Mercuric Sulphate
We manufacture Mercuric Sulphate in white crystalline form with high solubility in acids. Also known as Mercury Persulphate, these have found applications in medicines, galvanic batteries and as catalysts.

Now mercuric salts are solids at room temperature. But if the Po-210 was disolved into the liquid form then the Po-210 would be encased in the mercury crystals (maybe, the heat from the radiation may not allow the mercury to crystallize). Anyway – why do I bring this up? A very strange incident in an LA subway station this week involving a bottle of mercury:

The Los Angeles Joint Terrorism Task Force is investigating an incident involving an unidentified man who spilled a vial of mercury inside a subway station just before Christmas and then disappeared after reporting it to authorities.

A statement released by the task force Wednesday evening shows a picture of the man taken from a frame in a surveillance video. The caption reads: “Wanted for questioning in connection with unexplained activity.”

That activity can be seen in a copy of the surveillance video — obtained exclusively by CNN — which shows the Pershing Square subway station in Los Angeles late on the evening of December 22. …

In it, the man crouches on the train platform and spills about five fluid ounces of mercury from a small bottle. He then goes to a Metropolitan Transit Authority call box to report what happened.

There is a video of the incident and the act looks premeditated. Was this a test of a delivery system for a future attack? Was it an attack? I cannot help but note the coincidence of mercury showing up in the Litvinenko story basically within a week of this incident (if not the same week). Some people are concerned, others wonder why the man called attention to it:

While the incident could be an accident, a counterterrorism expert told CNN it should set off warning bells.

“It doesn’t make sense,” said Ken Robinson, who used to work in intelligence for the Pentagon and has analyzed dozens of al Qaeda tapes for CNN. “He’s got a heavy metal, and he’s taking it into a subway. There’s no good reason to do that. None.”

Mercury found in thermometers is dangerous when swallowed, but spilling it would have no immediate toxic effect.

That’s one reason the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, the lead agency in the investigation, believes the spill was just an accident and not terror-related. Also, the man who spilled it quickly called authorities to alert them.

“At this point we are relatively confident that it is not a credible threat,” L.A. County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Steve Whitmore said.

Well, let’s be careful here. If the mercury was laced with Po-210 then it could allow the Po-210 to become airborne or get on people’s shoes and clothes. And just like crude terrorist attacks use secondary bombs to attack first responders, the call to authorities could have been part of the snare. Or just a test to see what they could get away with.

But a joint FBI and Department of Homeland Security intelligence bulletin released in 2005 warns that terrorists may make calls to test police reactions.

In the case of the spilled mercury, according to the HAZMAT cleanup report read to CNN, law enforcement did not respond for a full eight hours.

CNN analyst Pat D’Amuro, a former top FBI counterterrorism agent, says it’s premature to rule out terror.

“I’m not saying that in this video these people are terrorists, but there’s some very strange activity that needs to be identified here.”

Just seems way too coincidental.

4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Mercury In LA Station, Link to Litvinenko?”

  1. crosspatch says:

    I believe it could be what I speculated a few weeks ago in a different thread. If the polonium came from a spacecraft power generator, taking it apart to get the polonium out could release mercury. These spacecraft power generators use polonium to boil mercury. The high pressure mercury vapor then spins a turbine, just like a steam turbine generator only using mercury instead of water.

    If someone got hold of a polonium generator designed for use in a satellite and took it apart, they would potentially expose themself to a lot of polonium (explaining polonium trail) and mercury vapor.

  2. crosspatch says:

    I just had a devious thought. It sprang from asking myself why I would want to use mercury to poison someone. To poison someone with mercury probably would not kill them. The symptoms would likely manifest long before mercury levels were at a level needed to cause death and be detected. But what if I only gave the target enough mercury exposure to cause the first level of symptoms:

    Psychological Disturbances (erethysm)
    Irritability, Nervousness, Fits of Anger, Memory Loss, Lack of Attention, Depression, Low Self Confidence, Anxiety, Drowsiness, Shyness/timidity, Decline of Intellect, Insomnia, Low Self Control.

    The primary symptoms of mercury-poisoning are vague psychic ones. Short-time memory deteriorates. You will find it difficult to concentrate on tasks which require attention and thinking. It is easier to execute tasks that are well known rather than to learn something new. You avoid social contacts which demand that you get out of your introvert behavior. You loose your temper easily and switch between different moods for no particular reason. Little by little, a more physical kind of exhaustion is added to the condition. More and more effort is required to initiate activities and sometimes break things due to inability to co-ordinate your movements with your visual impressions (ataxia).

    Those attributes would probably make one unfit to function in a position of authority or control over a business enterprise with any effectiveness. In other words, it would reduce someone to an idiot making irrational decisions ultimately leading to failure in whatever they set out to do. It doesn’t kill them, it simply makes them ineffective.

    Then I thought about how I might go about exposing them to the mercury and I read this:

    The main dangers associated with elemental mercury are that at standard conditions for temperature and pressure, mercury tends to oxidize forming mercury(II) oxide, and that if dropped or disturbed, mercury will form microscopic drops, increasing its surface area dramatically.

    Air saturated with mercury vapor at room temperature is at a concentration many times the toxic level, despite the high boiling point (the danger is increased at higher temperatures).

    Now if I wanted to get mercury into the air in an enclosed space I might want to heat it. A conventional heat source would require batteries that would need to be replaced or access to an electrical outlet. A polonium heat source would work for months without a power source.

    Now what if these guys were targeted by such devices or were planting them themselves and either discovered one and took it apart to see what it was (thereby contaminating themselves) or were “charging” (or recharging) them with polonium and contaminating themselves.

    Oh what an odd world all that cloak and dagger stuff is.

  3. Carol_Herman says:

    Seeing is not always believing.

    As to a man calling to tell police he accidently spilled mercury at the LA station, it doesn’t spring to my mind to think either “Litvinenko,” or terrorism. Besides, if something broke, the man is gonna be resonsible. If he’s a messenger, he’s none to happy about “losing product.” And, I’d bet he’ll be learning a thing or two about being honest.

    Because there’s something about police departments, where “no work” is a bad sign. And, some work is positively awful. But a call like this? How many hours can you stretch it out?

    As to people worried about food poisoning, it comes to mind that lots of kitchens are so bad you wanted want to eat the food they produce. And, Im not just talking restaurants. I’m talking about plenty of grandma’s, and aunt Matilda’s. Whose work habits aren’t the cleanest in town. (And, they’re also known to scrape off mold from stuff they’ve buried in their refrigerator.) You’d be surprised how many people out there think it is still scariligious to let “anything” go to waste.

    For stuff to work for terrorists, it has to cause enough mayhem to be newsworthy.

    Remember, people die on our freeways all the time. Never hits the news stands, though. Unless you live in a very small town! In which case only local deaths make it up onto the radar screens, anyway.

    One of the things about the HOUSE OF SAUD is that they are super rich, without ever having to be super smart. Even in the beginning. When the first British diplomat walked into a Bedoin tent. He wasn’t going there to find “the smartest man in town.”

    That means? Some people are super rich because they’re super lucky. (Heck, even the Columbian cartel has to do real work in order to make the sums they do.)

    Only the arabs can make it, without doing anything at all. Which has loaded them up with idle time.

    So they bought Haarvard. And, a few politicians. Doesn’t give them what they need to strike another 9/11.

    People should keep in mind that for the terror to work, it has to be something BIG.

    Dubai is BIG. But this was bought from very famous architects. It was NOT bought from the backs of magazines, where people were advertising “plans for sale.”

    As to Beslan, ya know what? It couldn’t happen in America!

    Beslan, to get kick-started, how the arabs (or you could call them the Chechnyans), offer to do FREE WORK. Over an entire summer. We have UNIONS. The unions would have stood outside, and no human traffic would have passed into the schools. (It was THAT HUMAN TRAFFIC that put the bombs into place.)

    When the first day of school started, the russians dressed their kids in their best new clothes. And, sent them off to die. Whatever war paraphenalia russia has; it did not have the tools to go into that school! Do you know why? Russian soldiers are not in the business of risking their lives! Let alone risking their lives for people they don’t even know! And, from whom there’s not much to steal. (If it had been a bank, loaded with cash, the response would have been different! You wouldn’t have been able to hold the soldiers, with their pick axes, back.) But why digress?

    To get to the place where the HOUSE OF SAUD (and the italian mafia), would be happy to “halp” you … you’ve got to be the last of the big time spenders. AND, you have to have a set a plans someone sold you, that told you “it’s gonna be bigger and better than 9/11.)

    My imagination told me that something could go down in DC. And, it would involving killing our President, the Vice President. And, anyone else within that closed room where the State of the Union address takes place.

    But this time, because Litvinenko was innept. Or at least dishonest enough that he was not going to tell anyone the truth; these “master plans” have been shelved.

    As to the “extra po-210, wherever it is. The imam in that mosque sure took a peculiar view of “the casket.” Who ever heard that a casket couldn’t make it into the funeral arrangments, because the imam feared radiating all of his own parishioners and staff?

    You could have fooled me. But Mark Steyn’s already written about the strange ways the eygptians go about spreading rumors. After he told the story of the eypgtian who sore his penis fell off because the Israelis have this secret weapon. (And, the secret weapon was delivered in a hand shake. I kid you not.)

    Po-210 is small potatoes to the russians, anyway. They just got millions from iran. And, they sent iran short-range missiles.

    While the Chinese, getting real serious about satelites and communications, just took a missile of their own, and “tested.” In doing so, that satelite is no longer flying in the sky. (While all our congress critters can do is try to pass anti-blogging rules.)

    Won’t stop most people from blogging or commenting, either.

    Besides, with “cloak and dagger,” you can’t kill more than one person at a time.

    Ah, to the good old days. When Dorothy Kilgalen got killed for coming close enough to the Kennedy assassination secrets. In the dark, and in the light, all the bad guys look the same. While most of us stand a better chance of being struck by lightening. Or worse. Getting hit while driving a car.

    Though. I’d be the first to give the smugglers in Europe credit, IF they could get their product into the LA market! You’d think they were carrying coke.

  4. crosspatch says:

    It could be nearly anything. The individual could be insane. There are plenty of those around. Maybe the response was being monitored and noted. Maybe it was designed as a cover for something else. I wouldn’t read too much into it at this point.