Michael Grabell, ProPublica

Transportation Security Administration
3:35 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

TSA to Commission Independent Study of X-Ray Body Scanners

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Following months of congressional pressure, the Transportation Security Administration has agreed to contract with the National Academy of Sciences to study the health effects of the agency's X-ray body scanners. But it is unclear if the academy will conduct its own tests of the scanners or merely review previous studies.

The machines, known as backscatters, were installed in airports nationwide after the failed underwear bombing on Christmas Day 2009 to screen passengers for explosives and other nonmetallic weapons. But they have been criticized by some prominent scientists because they expose the public to a small amount of ionizing radiation, a form of energy that can cause cancer.

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Transportation Security Administration
2:10 pm
Mon November 19, 2012

TSA X-Ray Body Scanners Sit Idle in Warehouse

The TSA removed X-ray body scanners from major airports, planning to shift them to smaller airports. But many of them sit in a warehouse as the agency looks into whether the manufacturer, Rapiscan Systems, falsified software tests.
tsa.gov

Last month, the Transportation Security Administration said it was moving nearly half its X-ray body scanners from some of the nation's biggest airports to smaller ones. But it turns out that more than 90 of the controversial machines will sit in a Texas warehouse indefinitely, agency officials said Thursday.

The agency says it hopes to someday deploy the warehoused machines, but even that prospect was thrown into doubt by allegations that the manufacturer, Rapiscan Systems, may have falsified tests of its experimental privacy software designed to eliminate explicit images of passengers' bodies.

The machines in the warehouse cost about $14 million total, or roughly $150,000 each.

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