Monday, the New York Police Department and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory conducted the first of three chemical release tests that it plans to achieve in the month of July.
Running on a $3.4 million Department of Homeland Security Transit Security Grant, officials will disperse Perfluorocarbon tracer gases through subway tunnels across the city. Odorless and colorless, the gas will mimic how a chemical or biological weapon would react if released. Perfluorocarbons are usually reserved for finding leaks in hazardous waste containment systems.
A news release on the test reads:
…largest urban airflow study ever to better understand the risks posed by airborne contaminants, including chemical, biological and radiological (CBR) weapons as they are dispersed in the atmosphere and in the City’s subway system.
There will be approximately 200 sampling devices deployed during this study. During the study, researchers will disperse low concentrations of harmless gases known as perfluorocarbons at select subway and street-level locations over three, non-consecutive days in July. Weather conditions will determine which days are selected for the tests, and will be announced to the public a day in advance. The research will be conducted during daylight hours in parts of the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and in Manhattan from 59th Street to the Battery.
Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly commented, ”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.
This field study with Brookhaven’s outstanding expertise will help prepare and safeguard the city’s population in the event of an actual attack.
This will not be the first test of its kind.
In 1966 a team of army researchers dropped light bulbs loaded with what they regarded as ‘harmless’ bacteria onto NY subway tracks and into its ventilation system without notifying the public.