MBTA test will release bacteria in stations - Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

MBTA test will release bacteria in stations

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FOX UNDERCOVER - FOX Undercover has details about tests that are beginning this week of sensors inside MBTA stations that are designed to detect a biological terrorist attack.

The tests will actually involve releasing bacteria inside three T stations.
The MBTA is the oldest transit system in the country and like others around the world it's vulnerable to a biological attack.

It happened in Tokyo in 1995 when a cult released serin gas in the subway, killing 13 people and making thousands others sick.               

The T's open access could allow for the release of hazardous biological materials which could quickly spread throughout the system, putting thousands of lives at risk.
             
That's why the Department of Homeland Security is going to be releasing dead bacteria in T stops in Cambridge and Somerville this week as part of a first-in-the nation test of sensors designed to detect a biological attack.

The microbes will be released in the early morning hours when the T stations are not open to the public, testing sensors which are designed to detect biological materials within 20 minutes.

The first release is scheduled for Wednesday morning at 1 a.m. and tests will continue sporadically throughout the year at the Porter, Davis, and Harvard T stops.               

Officials say the bacteria, known as Bacillus Subtilis, is naturally all around us and also used as a crop fungicide.

Testing will only be done when the T stops are closed to the public and again, will only use dead bacteria.

DHS records show the department considered releasing live spores while the T was open to the public, but decided against it because of the threat to riders with compromised immune systems.               

Officials say that the microbes will no longer be airborne by the time the T is open for business.

Several different kinds of sensors will be put through the paces.

Department of Homeland Security manager Dr. Anne Hultgren says the testing, "... will help determine whether the new sensors can quickly detect biological agents in order to trigger a public safety response as quickly as possible."               

These tests aren't being done anywhere else in the country.
       
The MBTA was chosen partly because DHS has already done tests in the same subway tunnels to see how gases are distributed by moving trains.

Related:

Bio Aerosol Testing in the Boston Area

Bacteria to Challenge Bio-Detection Sensors in Subway Stations



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