New York to test readiness for biological attack with ‘safe gas’ in subways and parks

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New York City’s emergency plans for biological or chemical weapons attack will be tested later this month as part of a federal government study.

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The Department of Homeland Security will work closely with a team of researchers and city agencies, including the Metropolitan Transit Authority, to release “safe gas” at key points around the five boroughs.

Some 120 locations, including parks and underground metro stations, will be tested on five different days between October 18 and 29.


The project includes the release of “low concentrations of safe particulate and gas tracer materials” as part of two programs, the Urban Hazard Dispersion (UTD) program and the Chemical and Bio-Defense Testing (CBT) program, according to DHS.

It is intended to simulate “aerosol release of a biological agent in a densely populated urban environment”.

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Researchers will collect air samples and materials that accumulate on the ground and other surfaces after the gas is dispersed.

“The results of these tests will be used to learn more about the relationship between air flow at street level and the underground atmosphere,” the MTA said.

The results will be used to inform how emergency management officials can plan a response to potential terrorist activity.

Commuters and other New Yorkers are advised to watch personnel being carried out and into subways by New York City police officers while performing airflow tests.

Full list of locations not available, but Homeland Security document Times Square lists Grand Central, Penn Station, Union Square and the World Trade Center transit hub as sites for testing, with tests both indoors and outdoors.

This is not the first time the city has taken such an exercise. The last time was in 2016, and similar exercises have been held in other major cities, including Washington, DC and Boston.


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