The NYPD will release harmless gasses into the subway this summer in an extensive test of how the material spreads through the system, officials said Wednesday.
Cops will use the results to strengthen their tactics for responding to hazards ranging from possible chemical spills in the tunnels to potential terrorist attacks, officials said.
The citywide testing, which will be conducted with the help of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory, will include the release of the gasses in various subway lines and stations during three non-consecutive days in July, officials said.
“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 in a statement.
“This field study with Brookhaven’s outstanding expertise will help prepare and safeguard the city’s population in the event of an actual attack.”
The study will be the biggest of its type ever conducted, officials said.
A similar study was performed in Manhattan in 2005. Previous tests were conducted in the subway systems of Boston and Washington, D.C.
Cops said the public will be given advance warning to the tests, which are not expected to delay any traffic.
“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,” said Fernando Ferrer, acting chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which is assisting in the tests.
The project, dubbed S-SAFE for Subway-Surface Air Flow Exchange, will be funded by a $3.4 million Department of Homeland Security Transit Security Grant, officials said.
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