Scientists will begin releasing airborne, non-toxic contaminants into the MBTA subway system today to see how such gases would spread through the nation’s oldest subway system in the case of a terror attack.
The test is being conducted in the nation’s 15 subway systems, and in Boston it will run through Aug. 27. The first phase of the test was conducted in December.
While the study will primarily examine what would happen in the intentional release of chemical or biological agents, it will also look at the airflow characteristics for an accidental spill, officials said.
Based on the results, the Department of Homeland Security will be able to develop evacuation strategies in the subway system, and how to counter the gas attacks. It is one of the anti-terror strategies put in place since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Authorities thwarted an Al Qaeda-sponsored plot to attack New York City subways last September.
The study is being conducted by researchers from the Argonne National Laboratory, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, an international team from ICx Technologies of Arlington, Va., the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory of the United Kingdom, and the Chemistry Centre of Australia.
Although MBTA passengers will be able to see the scientists and equipment, there will be no disruption or inconvenience to the public, according to the statement.
“Our customers and employees should know that the MBTA is working closely with our federal partners in order to make the transit system as safe as possible,” said MBTA Transit Police Chief Paul MacMillan in a statement.
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