Sunday, December 6, 2009

DHS Announces Mass Transportation Security Study

Last Wednesday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) announced the beginning of a study led by DHS's Science & Technology Directorate to examine the effect of a release of airborne contaminants into subway and mass transit systems. The project will include studying both chemical and biological compounds, in order to determine how best to respond to a release in the wake of a chemical or biological terrorist attack on the nation's public transportation system. According to DHS, the MBTA subway system will be used to test particle concentrations throughout the subway system in order to help design detection systems as well as to help plan emergency and security response strategies. Testing began yesterday, and will run until December 11.

Transportation systems, including mass transit, make up one of eighteen sectors deemed "critical infrastructure and key resources" (CIKR) in Homeland Security Presidential Directive 7 (HSPD-7). Wednesday's announcement comes about a month after several news stories reported that the White House has proposed the passage of federal regulations that would oversee the security of mass transit systems, including subways and light rail systems, across the country. Earlier this week, the House of Representatives passed a resolution mandating the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to enhance security of the nation's rail and mass transit systems.

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