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Old 06-20-2002, 01:37 PM   #1
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Many Explosive-Detection Machines Not Used

Many Explosive-Detection Machines Not Fully Used to Screen Airport Baggage

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More than half the explosive-detection machines now at airports are not being fully used to screen checked baggage, even as the government plans to buy hundreds more of the minivan-sized equipment, the Transportation Department said Thursday.

Inspector General Kenneth Mead said the machines should screen at least 1,250 bags a day, but only 12 of 138 machines are reaching that level. Transportation Security Administration head John Magaw acknowledged the problem and said it would be fixed as trained federal baggage screeners replace private employees.

To meet a Dec. 31 deadline to screen all checked bags for explosives, the government plans to install 1,100 of the large, $1 million machines and more than 4,000 smaller machines that detect traces of explosives.

But Mead told the House Appropriations transportation subcommittee that most of the machines are not used to anywhere near their capacity, which he said was 125 bags an hour for at least 10 hours a day.
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