NYPD begins anti-terror gas study in NYC subway system
Jul 13, 2013 - 14 hours ago in Politics
By Pierre Waithe.
New York - The NYPD and federal scientists released a harmless "tracer gas" into the subway system this past Tuesday morning as part of a series of air flow studies that will be conducted this month to study the behavior of chemical weapons in an urban area.
Officials with the New York City Police Department (NYPD) and the United States Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory commenced with a massive airflow study this past Tuesday by releasing low concentrations of perfluorocarbons into the subway system during the morning rush hour.
Perfluorocarbons are an inert or harmless gas that is both colorless and odorless.
The airflow study is designed to simulate the behavior and movement of chemical weapons, biological weapons, and radiological weapons as well as examine the possible impact of a terrorist attack involving those substances in the New York City subway system.
For Tuesday's test, officials released the gas into several subway tunnels throughout the city.
While the city's subway system is the primary focus of the study, city officials revealed that researchers conducting the testing also dispersed the gas at some street-level locations, particularly those near entrances and exits to the subway.
Police officials and Brookhaven National Laboratory scientists deployed personnel and equipment to monitor the trajectory of the gas as it made it's way throughout the city.
Authorities did not release which stations and streets were part of the test.
According to NYPD sources interviewed by DNAinfo, Tuesday's test concluded at 3:30 p.m.
In a public statement one day prior to the testing, Kay Cordtz of the Brookhaven National Laboratory informed the New York Daily News that the gas will be released during hours on three different days, selected based on weather conditions.
The extensive project will eventually included all five of the New York City boroughs — Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island — and will involve 21 subway lines and dozens of stations.
NYPD officials ultimately hope to better understand how toxic gases and other highly hazardous airborne contaminates can travel through the city's subway system and develop emergency response plans based on the results.
"It is an obvious target. We have to be vigilant, we have to be aware of that, and this is one of the many things that we do to protect the system," said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly in a public statement to NY1 about the potential of the city's subway system to be targeted by terrorists and the airflow study.
The airflow study was announced in April and is being funded with a $3.4 million grant from the United States Department of Homeland Security.
The study will take place over two more days during the month of July that have yet to be determined. However, the remaining two days of the study will be announced 24 hours in advance, police said.