DHS To Test Biological Sensors by Releasing Dead Bacteria on the Red Line | Cambridge Community Television

History repeats itself: "1966 U.S. Army dispenses Bacillus subtilis variant niger throughout the New York City subway system. More than a million civilians are exposed when army scientists drop lightbulbs filled with the bacteria onto ventilation grates..."

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) came to Cambridge Wednesday night to explain to citizens gathered at the Central Square YMCA a plan, currently underway, to test sensors in Red Line stations that would, if they prove effective and are widely deployed, detect a biological terror attack which, they asserted, was a real threat for which our country should be prepared.

The sensors are already deployed in Harvard, Porter and Davis Square stations, measuring background information in order to develop a baseline. In about a month - official declined to state exactly when - DHS will, during nighttime hours when the T is otherwise closed, release bacteria into subway tunnels, run trains as if it were normal operation, and assess whether the sensors can detect the release. DHS officials, joined by public health officials representing the state, Cambridge, and Somerville, took pains to describe the ways in which this plan has no risks. The bacteria being used - Bacillus subtilis- is found routinely in the environment, will be released only after killed, would be harmless even if alive, and will only be released when no people are in the subway, they said.

Officials were unable to provide information about the cost of this exercise, and have not followed up with promised information as of posting time. Despite repeated assurances that no Cambridge dollars were being spent on this - it is funded by federal appropriations - Claude-Alix Jacob, Chief Public Health Officer for the City of Cambridge, acknowledged that Cambridge City staff are supporting this work and their salaries are not being reimbursed by the federal government...


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