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October 15, 2009

TSA and Steamship Authority test explosives detection technology

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) today starts testing advanced explosives detection technology in partnership with the Woods Hole, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority.

During the three-week pilot program, TSA will conduct explosives screening on passenger vehicles boarding the Martha's Vineyard ferry at the Woods Hole Terminal in Falmouth. The purpose of the project is to test the performance of new technologies to detect explosives while maintaining efficient operations for high-volume ferries.

"This test represents one in a series of pilot programs TSA has designed to evaluate the effectiveness of emerging explosive detection technologies in the maritime environment," said John Sammon, TSA Assistant Administrator, Transportation Sector Network Management. "This is yet another tool the agency can use to respond to specific threats that arise from new intelligence or major events."

Through Nov. 6, TSA will use CarSCAN, a dual-energy transmission X-ray technology, to screen all passenger vehicles before they are driven onboard the ferry to Martha's Vineyard. For convenience, drivers will be permitted to remain in their vehicles during screening, which lasts approximately 10 seconds. Because the technology does not use whole body imaging, privacy issues will not be a concern.

Testing will occur Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Prior to boarding the ferry, drivers of passenger vehicles will be asked to proceed through the CarSCAN portal at approximately 5 mph. Images of the scanned vehicles will be monitored by TSA Transportation Security Officers from a station adjacent to the portal. If an anomaly is detected, the vehicle will be directed to a secondary screening area for inspection by TSA-certified explosives detection K9 teams.

"We are pleased to partner with TSA in their continuing efforts to test emerging technologies that screen vehicles for explosives," said Steamship Authority General Manager Wayne Lamson. "This pilot program will enable the TSA to test the effectiveness of explosive detection technologies that the Steamship Authority may want to utilize in the future, particularly during periods of heightened alert."


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