MBTA to test biological sensors at stations

Posted on May 3, 2012

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) partnered with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) to test a system of newly developed biological detection sensors at MBTA stations in Cambridge and Somerville this summer.

These sensors have been designed to enable rapid responses and protective measures within 20 minutes to reduce the impact of a biological terrorist attack. While the systems are being evaluated, Massachusetts public health officials will be working closely with DHS and the MBTA to monitor the results. The MBTA and DHS are coordinating these efforts with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the Cambridge Public Health Department, and the Somerville Health Department, with support from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

DHS conducted an environmental assessment and found no significant impact in using an innocuous, food-safe test bacterium to evaluate the ability of the system to rapidly detect hazardous biological materials in the subway. A Draft Environmental Assessment (DEA) is now available for public comment Addressing public concerns regarding the test and evaluation of this detection system and the possible environmental impacts are important to DHS.

The DEA can be downloaded from the DHS Website http://www.dhs.gov/nepa (or directly at http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/st/st_dea_detect_to_protect.pdf ).

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