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U.K. security contractor asks Chertoff to help free “trapped” technology

U.K. security contractor asks Chertoff to help free “trapped” technology

U.K. security contractor asks Chertoff to help free “trapped” technology

   British government-contracted XASystems Ltd. earlier this week sent a letter to U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff requesting the release of antiterrorism technology “trapped” inside Sandia National Laboratories.

   London-based XASystems believes that the Sandia-developed MicroChemLab, a gas phase analysis technology platform that can detect trace amounts of toxic chemicals, nerve agents and other explosive materials in the air, could have helped prevent the London bombings of July last year, and other planned terrorist attacks.

   Sandia demonstrated a working prototype of a sensor based on the MicroChemLab before the events of Sept. 11, 2001 and subsequently signed an exclusive license agreement with Nanodetex to produce the sensor for widespread national and international security applications.

   Nanodetex was started by two former Sandia employees.

   XASystems, selected as the U.K. distributor for Nanodetex’s sensors, is frustrated that after five years there is no sensor available. “Please will you attempt to ‘break the logjam’ and allow the production of this lifesaving technology?” wrote Ian Hillier-Brook, managing director of XASystems, to Chertoff.

   “I am alarmed and distressed by the fact that a technology such as this, with direct applications to counteract the national and international security issues and terrorist threats which we as a global community are now facing — including the newly emerging threats of category 5 and 7 chemical explosives — continues to be trapped inside a national laboratory.

   “I simply do not understand why the commercialization of products which could detect such ‘homemade’ explosives, nerve agents and toxins, and thus potentially eliminate the need for the recent TSA (Transportation Security Administration) and U.K. BAA bans on liquids and gels, and solve the current problems with outdated walk-through portal technology, has been so badly handled by the Sandia Labs and so easily overlooked by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

   “I implore you to look into this matter further,” Hillier-Brook wrote to Chertoff, “as the safety and well being of our collective citizens on both sides of the Atlantic is at stake.”

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