Enquirer News Update   -   Updated 6:40 p.m.

Cincinnati 'war room' will host terrorism defense research

By Matt Leingang
The Cincinnati Enquirer

PRICE HILL - Cincinnati will help the U.S. Department of Homeland Security develop new atmospheric sensors and other technologies that will allow cities across the nation to better detect and respond to biological or chemical attacks.

About $10 million will be poured into research that will be conducted in Cincinnati and three other pilot cities, which have yet to be announced.

U.S. Sen. George Voinovich announced Cincinnati's role today at the city's new emergency operations center high atop Knob Hill. The center will serve as Greater Cincinnati's "war room" in case of a terrorist attack.

Voinovich was joined by Charles McQueary, under secretary at the Department of Homeland Security.

The operations center is one reason that Cincinnati was chosen to be a research site, McQueary said.

The 40,000-square-foot building is the former headquarters of Slush Puppie Corp. The facility is mostly empty now, but plans call for it to be converted into an emergency operations center by the end of the year.

The project is Cincinnati's most high-profile use of federal homeland security money that is filtering down to U.S. cities. About $500,000 will be spent to build a sleek, mission-control-like operating pit with giant video screens and rows of computer stations where analysts will work year-round to assess local terror threats and study ways to beef up security at potential targets, such as high-rise buildings.

Another reason for choosing Cincinnati is the research already being conducted at the National Homeland Security Research Center, based at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offices on Martin Luther King Drive in Corryville.

The center directs all research on the clean-up of contaminated buildings and ways to protect the nation's drinking water and air.

E-mail mleingang@enquirer.com