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Transport security

For the scenarios, situations have been chosen that are realistic, but could also occur in another context within your organisation. The following questions are designed to give an impression of whether the described scenario is relevant in your organisation.

Questions for your organisation:

  • Is the situation recognisable?
  • Is the situation realistic (or realistic in another context?
  • What are the vulnerabilities in this situation?
  • What are the possible consequences of this situation?
  • What control measures can be taken to prevent the scenario?
  1. 1

    Unattended verification material

    To perform a test, an employee urgently needs BSL3 verification material from another laboratory within the same organisation. Due to a holiday, it is not possible to coordinate the collection and delivery of this material. The verification material is double packaged, but is accidentally left unattended in a cold storage room outside the receiving BSL3 laboratory. The agreement was that the colleague would find the material in the receiving BSL3 laboratory the next morning and could proceed with the test immediately.

    Transport_Scenario_1_CMS

    The employee who transports the material ensures safe double packaging. This material must be stored at the correct containment level, but is accidentally left unattended in a cold storage room. If third parties do not handle this material correctly, safety and security risks may ensue. It is possible that the employee who left the material unattended was unaware of these risks.

    Other relevant biosecurity pillars of good practice: awareness, physical security, organisation, accountability for materials

    • By leaving the material unattended, safety risks can arise if the material is released.
    • By leaving the material unattended, it can end up with the wrong person creating security risks.
    • The material is not stored at the correct containment level; this can lead to undesired and potentially hazardous safety and security situations.
    • If the employees are unaware of these risks, the situation can repeat itself.
    • The receiving party does not find the package where it is intended. This leaves the package unattended and outside confinement for a period of time.

    Is this scenario applicable to your organisation?

    Is this scenario applicable to your organisation?
  2. 2

    Wandering package

    A package with high-risk material is sent to your organisation. The intended recipient is of the opinion that its shipment is taking too long and contacts the sender. The sender states that he received a confirmation of receipt from an employee of your institute a few days ago. The intended recipient makes internal inquiries and the package is found in another department.

    Transport_Scenario_2_CMS

    In this scenario, the gap between the sender and the receiver becomes apparent: neither of them has physical possession of the package and it clear that the package has been received by the intended recipient, only after several days have passed. Due to inadequate internal procedures, and lack of clarity about responsibilities with regard to the transport of high-risk material, the package has ‘wandered’ within the organisation for several days. Good communication and coordination between sender and receiver is important.

    Other relevant biosecurity pillars of good practice: awareness, management, accountability for materials

    • Without comprehensive procedures and clear agreements about internal transport in the organisation, high-risk material may not be received by the persons intended and can ‘wander’.
    • Storage at an incorrect containment level can result in safety risks for employees, the organisation and the environment if the material is released.
    • If the package is stolen, this leads to security risks for employees, the organisation and the environment.
    • An unattended package can be easily stolen with little chance of identifying the thief.

    Is this scenario applicable to your organisation?

    Is this scenario applicable to your organisation?
  3. 3

    Transport gap

    Your organisation has shipped high-risk material to various laboratories for a comparative study. For this purpose, a certified courier service has been used. After a few days it appears that one of the packages has not arrived and that a number of packages have been switched.

    Transport_Scenario_3_CMS

    In this scenario, the gap between the sender and the receiver becomes apparent: neither of them has physical possession of the packages and it clear that packages have been switched, or not delivered. In this scenario, the location of one of the packages is unclear, which is worrisome as it contains high-risk material. In addition, switching of packages may entail risks for the receiving laboratories. Both the sender and the receiver are responsible for checking and monitoring the packages; it is important that this is coordinated so that a fast and adequate response can be initiated if packages do not arrive within the expected time.

    Other relevant biosecurity pillar of good practice: awareness

    • When high-risk material is sent to the wrong recipient, is left unattended, or is lost, this can result in both safety and security risks.
    • Losing high-risk material can cause reputational damage to the organisation.

    Is this scenario applicable to your organisation?

    Is this scenario applicable to your organisation?
  4. 4

    Export control on Quarantine organisms

    Within your organisation, which is located in an EU member state, research is carried out with plant-pathogenic quarantine organisms. Collections of isolated cultures of plant pathogens have been created that can be issued to third parties on request. These include plant pathogens that are designated in EU legislation as dual-use materials that require a permit. A researcher from outside the EU requests several cultures of the organisms listed in the EU dual-use regulation 428/2009. The requested material is sent to the applicant, but the package is intercepted by customs because the material does not have the required export license.

    Transport_Scenario_4_CMS

    In this scenario, which applies only to countries outside the EU, the request is processed by an employee who does not realise that it concerns materials subject to export controls, and that an export license must obtained before shipment. For the Netherlands, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs assesses whether shipment to countries outside the EU poses a risk. The license will not be issued if the shipment entails safety and security risks for either the sender or the recipient. By implementing appropriate procedures and delegating responsibilities within the organisation, this kind of situation can be prevented. Read more about Quarantine organisms.

    Other relevant biosecurity pillars of good practice: awareness, management, information security, personnel reliability

    • Violating the dual-use regulation has legal consequences for both the sending and the receiving party.
    • Errors can result in security risks and damage the reputation of the organisation.
    • The manager who holds the final responsibility for biosecurity in an organisation can be held to account for the violation and can be fined.

    Is this scenario applicable to your organisation?

    Is this scenario applicable to your organisation?
  5. 5

    Strategic goods

    Within your organisation, which is located in an EU member state, research is carried out on a specific Bacillus anthracis gene. A research institute in Switzerland has offered to help, but to do so they require genomic material from this specific bacterial strain. An employee from your organisation sends the DNA of this strain to the relevant research institution, without consulting the regulations that might apply.

    Transport_Scenario_5_CMS

    Regulations in the EU relating to the export of high-risk material are laid down in the European dual-use regulation (EC), and in the Netherlands in the Transport of Hazardous Substances Act (WVGS). In principle, no license is required for exporting dual-use goods from one EU member state to another. However, Switzerland is not part of the EU. In this case a permit should have been requested because the specific genomic material of this bacterium falls under the category 'dual-use goods' according to law in the Netherlands (Strategic Goods Export Decree).

    Other relevant biosecurity pillars of good practice: awareness, management

    • When regulations regarding the export of specific high-risk material to foreign countries are not complied with, this may have negative consequences (such as reputational damage).
    • Non-compliance with national and international legislation and regulations and corresponding sanctions.

    Is this scenario applicable to your organisation?

    Is this scenario applicable to your organisation?