Pilot SFO cargo screening program to expand to
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
X-ray machines are used to scan passenger luggage at San Francisco
International airport. Air cargo, however, is presently not adequately
tested for explosives.
A new pilot program, funded by Homeland Security dollars, will
help reduce the risk
of undetected explosive laden cargo boarding passenger aircraft.
By Brigid Gaffikin, Bay City News Service
November 10, 2006
A $30 million air cargo-screening pilot program that began operation
at San Francisco International Airport in June is set to expand
to Seattle's Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, according to
the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The Air Cargo Explosives Detection Pilot Program was designed
to help officials better understand the technological and operational
issues associated with detecting explosives or people that might
be hidden in cargo. The program uses existing cargo screening
technologies, but scientists have also worked on developing new
screening devices, including advanced X-ray systems, according
SFO Duty Manager Denis Richardson said the program at that airport
uses powerful machines that have detection capabilities comparable
to computed tomography, or CT, scan devices.
"You can pick out virtually anything and say this is a gun,
this is a shoe,'' he said.
When the program is implemented in Seattle, tests will focus
on assessing the flow of air cargo and the pace at which it must
Tests will also address detecting carbon dioxide, which may indicate
the presence of a person in cargo, according to the Department
of Homeland Security.
Research is also under way, with DHS funding support, to develop
new detection systems such as an X-ray that can scan entire pallets
at a time to detect explosives, according to the department.
Organizations involved in the Air Cargo Explosives Detection
Pilot Program include the Science and Technology Directorate,
the Transportation Security Administration, Pacific Northwest
National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Oak
Ride National Laboratory and the Transportation Security Laboratory.
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