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"San Francisco airport shows off new bioweapon detector"

Wednesday, April 2, 2003

SF airport shows off new bioweapon detector
By Guy Ashley

SAN FRANCISCO - Scientists at Sandia National Laboratory in Livermore today
unveiled features of new detection systems at San Francisco International
Airport designed to protect against chemical or biological terrorist

Lab officials have been working with the airport for the past four years on
developing a comprehensive testing system that could warn of the release of
chemical or biological agent posing danger to passengers and employees.

"The ultimate goal is an integrated system that will save lives in the event
of a chemical or biological attack,'' said Susanna Gordon, a Sandia
researcher who serves a principal investigator for the testing program,
known as Protective and Responsive Options for Airport Counter-Terrorism or

The program originally came in response to the 1995 sarin gas attack on the
Tokyo subway system, in which 12 people died and more than 3,000 were sent
to the hospital.

The attack led Sandia scientists to take part in the development of a
detection system now in place in the subway system in Washington D.C. In
1998, Sandia began its collaboration at SFO to develop a detection system
that officials hope will one day be a commonly used safeguard in airports
across the nation.

Duane Lindner, deputy director of Sandia's Chem-Bio program, said SFO is an
ideal testing area because the airport's three main terminals all are unique
in design. This helps officials testing the system to learn more about such
key issues as where detection systems should be located and how best to
stifle the spread of such harmful substances once they are detected, Lindner

At a news conference, airport officials also unveiled SFO's new mobile
decontamination unit, a trailer equipped with showers and other enhancements
that could service up to 1,800 people hourly after a suspected chemical or
biological attack.

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