NYPD Teams With Lab to Study Airborne Weapons

NEW YORK (AP) -

The New York Police Department is teaming up with a national laboratory to study how chemical weapons could be dispersed through the air into the subway system.

Researchers will track the movement of harmless tracer gases by placing air sampling devices in specific areas on the street and within the subway system. The gases mimic how a chemical, biological or radiological weapon may react if released.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Wednesday that the study will help safeguard the city against attacks.

“We want to be able to determine how toxic material can flow through the transit system — it’s one of the concerns that we’ve had for a while — and how it flows on the streets of our city,” Kelly said. “The topography of the city is unique.”

The tests will be conducted in July in all five boroughs. About 200 sampling devices will be deployed and the gas will be released through tanks. The test vapors are called perflurocarbon tracer gases and present no health or environmental hazard, police said. The public will be alerted before the testing is done, police said.

The project with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory will be funded through a $3.4 million federal grant.