Despite Londoners being inveigled mere days ago to report any suspicious activity to the police, people in Marylebone are now being advised to, er, do the opposite. The reason? A Home Office-run project is to simulate a dirty bomb attack on the capital.
The trials, part of a study called Dispersion of Air Pollution and Penetration into the Local Environment, or DAPPLE, will involve scientists releasing colourless, odourless gas from canisters on the street. Said a spokesperson:
There is no danger... the tracer gases are non-toxic.
Well that's a relief. So if you see somebody fiddling about with an ominous looking canister, don't panic! It's just the Government saving us from the baddies. Unless, of course, the baddies have cottoned on to the plan and launched their own fiendish offensive using the simulation as an oh-so convenient fig leaf. But we'll trust the Powers That Be have found a way to obviate any such catastrophe. Oh, they have - the scientists will be issued with hi-visibility jackets. Problem solved.
Anyhow, the trial aims to examine "flow and dispersion in the urban canopy" in order to "assist emergency response planning". The current project, HO-DAPPLE (stop giggling at the back), is an extension of a previous initiative that concluded in 2006. Quite what all this means is not clear to this Londonista's science-scared mind, but if it helps the authorities understand how better to react in the event of a dirty bomb, then it's probably A Good Thing.
Photo of Marylebone High Street from SlipStreamJC's Flickrstream