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Old May 18, 07, 11:55 am   #1
 
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Suspicious packages and dumping terminals

I was talking to a good friend the other day that flies way more often than I do and works in the security world about TSA - security yada yada yada. He brought something up that I guess I never really thought about. What happens when the TSA or baggage handlers find a suspicious package? My answer was get the hell out of there asap and call the bomb squad. He agreed, but made a pretty good case that shouldn't the packages - if possible - be isolated until the bomb squad guys show up? It would both be safer, (he's the guy who always marvels at all the glass that new airports are made of and the potential problem if something were to blow up) and in many cases be able to keep the airports open and the planes flying. (Stick it in the bomb proof device and move it to a safer location for further examination).

Apparently, (he's a cop shop guy) he told me that current technology of pressure vessel based bomb containers makes it kind of impossible to have something at the terminal screening lines or where the checked baggage goes. They are just too big. But, he told me he told me about this small company (saw them at a trade show) that uses different technology that absorbs and contains blasts. They have sold them around the world but they aren't deployed everywhere in the US. Apparently the containers v. the pressure vessel based are smaller, lighter blah blah blah. The company is called Aigis and they are UK based. I took a look at their website, which isn't great, but if the product does what it says it does why aren't airports, airlines, TSA snapping these things up? (OK, I know what the TSA distracters will say and to a large extent I am among them). I'm all for figuring out if there is a problem, but what do you do when you find one?

Thoughts?
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Old May 18, 07, 12:18 pm   #2
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The TSA has an irrational mindset that bags suddenly become highly unstable and might detonate at any moment once something is "found" and I don't see that ridiculous SOP changing. As soon as something "suspicious" is seen on the screen or the ETD, the SOP is to clear everyone away. Just like this week's LAX T-2 incident with fake novelty mortar rounds.

Doesn't matter that the odds of something actually exploding are too small to bother calculating - the "think of the children" and "anything is ok if it keeps us safe from (nonexistent) bombs" crowd will preach "safety" over sanity and rational response.
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Old May 18, 07, 2:01 pm   #3
 
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Originally Posted by FWAAA View Post
The TSA has an irrational mindset that bags suddenly become highly unstable and might detonate at any moment once something is "found" and I don't see that ridiculous SOP changing. As soon as something "suspicious" is seen on the screen or the ETD, the SOP is to clear everyone away. Just like this week's LAX T-2 incident with fake novelty mortar rounds.

Doesn't matter that the odds of something actually exploding are too small to bother calculating - the "think of the children" and "anything is ok if it keeps us safe from (nonexistent) bombs" crowd will preach "safety" over sanity and rational response.
I agree that there are too many terminal dumps being done for no reason, but not every dump or evacuation is called for by TSA. Last October, while I was working at PHL checkpoint B, a TSO found 2 M-80's in a passengers bag. The Police were called over and the LEO took control of the bag and screening continued. As soon as the PPD Bomb Squad Officer arrived, he got very angry that the area had not been evacuated and screamed at the top of his lungs to "get everyone the F*** out of here." At that point we had to send all the people away and establish a perimeter of 300 feet from the checkpoint. more members of the Bomb Squad arrived 10 minutes later to examine the M-80's and render them safe. After 45 minutes, we were able to re-open. Now I know that this was a real explosive, but they were basically fireworks that were under control of a LEO and were in no way going to cause danger to anyone. My opinion is the Officer overreacted, but he knows alot more about that stuff than I do.

Last edited by PHLJJS; May 18, 07 at 8:50 pm..
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Old May 18, 07, 7:04 pm   #4
 
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In the UK, baggage with unresolvable alarms is stored in a bomb-proof area. In most cases, passengers are paged to open the bag in the bomb-proof area with police officers and security personnel. I don't know the exact location of it but I've heard it's in a remote area outside of the terminals.

In the event the passenger doesn't show up or if the bag highly likely contains a bomb, the bomb squad is called, and the bag is blown up. No terminal dumping required.

I don't know at what stage of the UK screening process it's done, but a bag may be sent to a decompression chamber to give a chance for potential bombs to detonate.

- Pat
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Old May 18, 07, 7:37 pm   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PHLJJS View Post
Now I know that this was a real explosive, but they were basically fireworks that were under control of a LEO and were in no way going to cause danger to anyone. My opintion is the Officer overreacted, but he knows alot more about that stuff than I do.
I don't believe M-80's are manufactured legally anymore. If you want to believe it's "just fireworks", then you have to be willing to assume that it was manufactured with the right amount of the right explosive, otherwise it's an unknown entity. Besides the explosive effect, there's also the possibility of at least temporary hearing loss.

Real black powder is an explosive and can be ignited by impact, not likely in that scenario but possible.

300' might have been overkill but caution is wise.
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Old May 18, 07, 7:52 pm   #6
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I don't believe M-80's are manufactured legally anymore.
Important qualifier: currently, not legally manufactured in the U.S.
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Old May 19, 07, 6:16 pm   #7
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiirachay View Post
In the UK, baggage with unresolvable alarms is stored in a bomb-proof area. In most cases, passengers are paged to open the bag in the bomb-proof area with police officers and security personnel. I don't know the exact location of it but I've heard it's in a remote area outside of the terminals.

In the event the passenger doesn't show up or if the bag highly likely contains a bomb, the bomb squad is called, and the bag is blown up. No terminal dumping required.

I don't know at what stage of the UK screening process it's done, but a bag may be sent to a decompression chamber to give a chance for potential bombs to detonate.

- Pat
Wouldn't it be better to put the item in the container immediately as opposed to having the person carry the package to the bomb proof room?

Gee, maybe the bomb guys wouldn't order a dump if they knew the device was isolated ...
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Old May 22, 07, 3:37 pm   #8
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2 of the last 3 times I've been in CGD they blew up abandoned bags. They apparently blow them up without moving them in a container from the big but sort of mufffled WHOMP. Never had anyone do that in the US.
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Old May 23, 07, 12:54 am   #9
 
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Originally Posted by PHLJJS View Post
At that point we had to send all the people away and establish a perimeter of 300 feet from the checkpoint. more members of the Bomb Squad arrived 10 minutes later to examine the M-80's and render them safe. After 45 minutes, we were able to re-open. Now I know that this was a real explosive, but they were basically fireworks that were under control of a LEO and were in no way going to cause danger to anyone. My opinion is the Officer overreacted, but he knows alot more about that stuff than I do.
Sho enuf - wonder if he's ever seen something that *looked* like a firecracker but was much more.

Because I have. A form of blasting jelly stuffed into a bottle rocket by a very very stupid person. Biiiiig boom.
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Old May 23, 07, 4:29 am   #10
 
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Originally Posted by chobby100 View Post
If the product does what it says it does why aren't airports, airlines, TSA snapping these things up?
The same reason why passengers in the U.S. keep dumping their water bottles and hair gel, but Japan and China are installing machines that actually test for liquid explosives. And no, it isn't funding -- we haven't even spent a lot of what is/was alloted. It is pure, blinding ineptitude.

There are more recent articles, but this one has a quote I love:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl...&type=politics
"'I don't have any criticisms of anyone,' said Kip Hawley, the assistant secretary for transportation security.'"

peace,
~Ben~
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Last edited by seoulmanjr; May 23, 07 at 4:41 am..
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Old May 23, 07, 4:40 am   #11
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FWAAA View Post
The TSA has an irrational mindset that bags suddenly become highly unstable and might detonate at any moment once something is "found" and I don't see that ridiculous SOP changing. As soon as something "suspicious" is seen on the screen or the ETD, the SOP is to clear everyone away. Just like this week's LAX T-2 incident with fake novelty mortar rounds.

Doesn't matter that the odds of something actually exploding are too small to bother calculating - the "think of the children" and "anything is ok if it keeps us safe from (nonexistent) bombs" crowd will preach "safety" over sanity and rational response.
(I'm just playing the sarcastic devil's advocate here...)
Then what about the cavalier way they handle these potentially deadly and explosives items?!? I mean, they obviously aren't that worried about them mixing into something volatile in huge random heaps and exploding in public. So there.

Can any of the TSA apologists here explain to me why there's such a freak out about how dangerous the liquids potentially are to the aircraft, but no explosive/hazmat procedures are followed in their collection and disposal?

peace,
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Old Jun 7, 07, 12:55 pm   #12
 
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It looks like Houston has purchased these units. Apparently someone is thinking.

How about the Congress and/or TSA/DHS picking these up for all of the airports. Geez, at $25k a piece they seem relatively cheap by airport security standards.

http://www.click2houston.com/video/1...x.html?taf=hou and
http://www.kuhf.org/site/News2?JServ...s_iv_ctrl=1902
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