Viewing a single comment thread. View all comments

8i66ie5ma115 t1_je7zd69 wrote

There’s a book called Biohazard by Ken Alibek who used to head the Russian bio weapons program.

He tells a story of them transporting a giant 55 gallon drum of weaponized tularemia that they knocked over.

> Nazil was waiting for me inside Zone Two. As we walked together down the corridors, he told me what had happened. The air pressure in the pipeline feeding one of the tularemia rooms had begun to drop precipitously. A technician had been working there an hour or so before, but she had gone home. She may have forgotten to reset the valves. Nazil was anxious to get back to work before his shift ended. It was 11:00 P.M. He brought me to the room where the drop in pressure had been reported and hesitated at the door. "Don't worry," I said. "Go back to your lab. I'm sure I can han- dle this." Mollified, he set off down the corridor. I opened the door and took a few steps inside. It was pitch black. I reached back, groping in the darkness for the light switch. When I finally hit the switch and looked down, I found I was standing in a puddle of liquid tu- laremia. It was milky brown--the highest possible concentration. The puddle at my feet was only a few centimeters deep, but there was enough tularemia on the floor to infect the entire population of the Soviet Union. I called for Nazil, frozen in place, and heard him rustling toward me down the hall. I was only two feet or so from the doorway, but I was trapped. If I tried to back out I would bring the disease with me into the cor- ridor-and, potentially, into the rest of the zone. Keeping my voice as calm as possible, I told Nazil to bring dis- infectant quickly--anything he could find. I reached my gloved hand behind me and grabbed the bottle of hydrogen peroxide he handed through the partly open door. I poured the solution over my boots. He handed me more bot- tles as I moved backward, tiny step by tiny step, pouring all the time. By the time I was out of the room, three military scientists working in other parts of the zone had rushed to the scene, alerted by the commotion. The change in air pressure must have caused the culture to escape through the filter system. I closed the door and told them to disinfect everything I had touched, as well as the room itself. I went back through the sanitary passageway, eased off my boots and protective suit, took a disinfecting shower, and submit- ted myself to a quick checkup by the nurse. She assured me that I was fine. Silently, I congratulated myself on my good fortune. I tried to imagine what might have happened if I had lost my footing on the slippery floor. Although tularemia isn't usually deadly, we were working with a far more virulent strain than any I would ever have been exposed to in nature. When we regrouped in Zone One, I advised Nazil and the others to take the antibiotics we had on hand for emergencies. I went to my office and called Savva Yermoshin, chief of the KGB detachment at Omutninsk. Savva would later work with me at Biopreparat headquarters in Moscow. I had obviously pulled him from a deep slumber. "Savva, I'm sorry to wake you," I said. "I just wanted to let you know a small amount of tularemia was released inside Building 107 tonight." I didn't expect him to do anything, but regulations required us to inform the KGB about the slightest break in routine. "Anybody hurt?" he said in a voice fogged with sleep. "No, it's all under control," I continued cheerfully. "We've got it cleaned up. There's nothing for you to do." I looked at my watch after hanging up. It was almost 2 A.M.. It was pointless to call Moscow at that hour. I decided to wait until morning and went home, tired and relieved. "What was the emergency?" Lena asked me sleepily as I padded around in the dark of our bedroom. "Nothing important," I told her. "Go back to sleep."

The full book is located here free for download.


EverydayVelociraptor t1_je81wsb wrote

Yay for books about weird science. Currently reading "Ignition" by John Clark all about the history of rocket fuel.


Smogz_ t1_je9n0is wrote

Rocket fuel is nasty stuff. My dad worked with rocket engines at Edwards in the 60s and worked on the Apollo 11 lunar module descent engine. His supervisor at Edwards said to avoid getting it on him and that when he gets older he’ll get constant itching. He has the itchies. His buddy that got more on him has it really bad.


Mad_Aeric t1_jeamyey wrote

That's been on my reading list for ages, I'm always coming across excerpts from it. Mainly the bit about fluorine trichloride.


areolegrande t1_je8k1wh wrote

>Although tularemia isn't usually deadly, we were working with a far more virulent strain than any I would ever have been exposed to in nature.

I can't express how enraged reading shit like this makes me, ugh... 🤦


AssCumBoi t1_je8vrve wrote

I feel like Nazil is kind of an unfortunate name. It's kind of a mix between Nazi and Nazgul


GoGaslightYerself t1_je9fsq5 wrote

> There’s a book called Biohazard by Ken Alibek

I read about him in a New Yorker article by Richard Preston entitled "The Bioweaponeers" where Alibek described leading the Russian germ-warfare lab Biopreparat (with 32,000 scientists and staff), trying to create "chimera" viruses combining the traits of anthrax, smallpox, ebola, etc. "Ebolapox" (one of the viruses Alibek believed they were working on) sounds devastating. Pretty chilling stuff and worthwhile reading.

Excerpt from that (1998) article:

> More recently, Alibek claims, the Vector researchers may have created a recombinant Ebola-smallpox chimera. One could call it Ebolapox. Ebola virus uses the molecule RNA for its genetic code, whereas smallpox uses DNA. Alibek believes that the Russian researchers made a DNA copy of the disease-causing parts of Ebola, then grafted them into smallpox. Alibek said he thinks that the Ebolapox virus is stable -- that is, that it will replicate successfully in a test tube or in animals -- which means that, once created, Ebolapox will live forever in a laboratory, and will not uncreate itself. Thus a new form of life may have been brought into the world.

> "The Ebolapox could produce the form of smallpox called blackpox," Alibek says. Blackpox, sometimes known as hemorrhagic smallpox, is the most severe type of smallpox disease. In a blackpox infection, the skin does not develop blisters. Instead, the skin becomes dark all over. Blood vessels leak, resulting in severe internal hemorrhaging. Blackpox is invariably fatal. "As a weapon, the Ebolapox would give the hemorrhages and high mortality rate of Ebola virus, which would give you a blackpox, plus the very high contagiousness of smallpox," Alibek said.


crispy_attic t1_jea526a wrote

>Blackpox, sometimes known as hemorrhagic smallpox, is the most severe type of smallpox disease. In a blackpox infection, the skin does not develop blisters. Instead, the skin becomes dark all over.

I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of racists suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.


ebolashuffle t1_jea92mo wrote

The Hot Zone and The Demon in the Freezer by Preston are also great reads


GoGaslightYerself t1_jeacw16 wrote

Yep, Preston also wrote another riveting New Yorker article about what they thought was an outbreak of Ebola zaire at a research primate quarantine facility just outside Washington, D.C. in 1989.

US Army doctors had to sneak into the facility in spacesuits, under the cover of darkness (so as not to panic residents), to euthanize hundreds of Ebola-infected monkeys (without panicking the monkeys and without getting bitten), bag up their corpses in biocontainment Level 4 bags, and then hermetically seal and slag the entire building with formaldehyde gas. After it was all over, it turned out that >!the macaques had a type of Ebola that didn't harm humans...the virus was eventually named Ebola reston after the town by the same name in Virginia...but talk about major pucker factor while it was all underway...!<

Preston was often an incredibly lyrical writer IMHO. At the end of the article about the Reston events, he recounts visiting the Primate Quarantine Unit some years after the crisis was over. Here he is:

>I walked along the back wall of the former monkey house until I came to a window. Inside the building, climbing vines had rioted, and had pressed themselves against the inside of the glass. The vine was Tartarian honeysuckle, a weed that grows in waste places and abandoned ground. I couldn’t see through the leaves into the former hot zone. I walked around to the side of the building, and found another glass door, beribboned with tape. I pressed my nose against the glass and cupped my hands around my eyes, and saw a bucket smeared with a dry brown crust. It looked like monkey excrement. I guessed that it had been stirred with Clorox. A spider had strung a web between a wall and the bucket of shit, and had dropped husks of flies and yellow jackets on the floor. Ebola had risen in these rooms, flashed its colors, replicated, and subsided into the forest.


ebolashuffle t1_jeafm7a wrote

The Hot Zone is about that outbreak. Not sure if the article is an excerpt or separate, sounds familiar to me.


workaccount77234 t1_jeaxpk6 wrote

Well, hopefully they learned from the covid experience that once a virus is out in the world it invariably spreads to every country. There is no way to keep it contained these days, so they would end up infecting themselves and their own country too, thus making it pointless as a weapon


Neolithique t1_je8nxuz wrote

Thanks dude, I’m going to start reading it tonight.


Kasspa t1_jeattp3 wrote

Another really fucked up read that is all true is The Hot Zone, if you haven't read that one yet I highly recommend it. It's about the Ebola virus and how completely moronic scientists and government officials essentially released Ebola out to the masses in the U.S. literally a couple miles away from Washington D.C. The only reason the U.S. didn't get completely fucked is because it was miraculously some new mutation of Ebola that wasn't as deadly (they didn't know this though at the time). There is a show too, but it's no where near as good as the book imo.


crispy_attic t1_jea2yg5 wrote

Nazil? Is this a common name or did it pop up after nazis took that L?


OpeningTurnip8048 t1_je9uufk wrote

I got-ta start us-ing the word "mollified" in day to day con-versat-ions. And also ran-domly in-sert hyphens into words un-ness-acerily.

Edit: the fact that this was a joke apparently didnt come thru. Probably cause it wasnt a good one. Hey they all cant be gems right? So no need to tell me to read a book or anything. Unless thats your thing and it makes you happy. Then go for it i say.


W3remaid t1_jea5lbe wrote

The hyphen likely indicates that the word started on one line and ended on another. The text was probably copied from a physical print version and not created for ebook format outright


OpeningTurnip8048 t1_jeaeoy7 wrote

Yes i know. It was a joke. Someone else more rudely then you brought this to my attention as well. I got it. Thanks for breaking down how books and copied text works. Very informative. Have a great day


firstlordshuza t1_jea2yl9 wrote

Something tells me you never read a book before


OpeningTurnip8048 t1_jeae7m4 wrote

Jeez, it was a joke dude. Move on with your day. Sorry that bothered you to the point you felt the need to write that.