The NYPD, MTA and the United States Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory will conduct several tests this summer in order to come up with a contingency plan in the case of an intentional or accidental release of biohazardous materials, announced the NYPD.
Known as the Subway-Surface Air Flow Exchange (S-SAFE), the project is the first of its kind to study the effects of airflow in above and underground locations. The project will be funded by a $3.4 million Department of Homeland Security Transit Security Grant.
“The NYPD, in partnership with the MTA, is responsible for keeping more than 5 million daily subway customers safe and secure,” MTA acting chairman Fernando Ferrer said. “This study will bolster the NYPD’s understanding of contaminant dispersion within the subway system as well as between the subway system and the street, thereby improving its ability to better protect both our customers and the city population at large.”
Approximately 200 samples of harmless gases will be dispersed throughout a non-consecutive three-day span in July. The test will take place throughout 21 different subway lines, several dozen stations and street-level locations.
The days for the tests will be determined by weather conditions and announced to the public a day in advance.
The gases that will be used are non-toxic, odorless and invisible and have been used in previous airflow tests. Police say the tests will have no effect on daily commutes.
“The NYPD works for the best but plans for the worst when it comes to potentially catastrophic attacks such as ones employing radiological contaminants or weaponized anthrax,” Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. “This field study with Brookhaven’s outstanding expertise will help prepare and safeguard the city’s population in the event of an actual attack.”
-BY ANTHONY O’REILLY