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10 more airports tapped for baggage screening upgrades

  • Story Highlights
  • Department of Homeland security says stimulus money can be stretched
  • DHS identified 10 additional airports to receive in-line baggage screening systems
  • Updated screening process is more efficient than stand-alone machines
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Some $700 million in economic stimulus money intended to upgrade baggage screening systems at airports will go further than originally expected, Department of Homeland Security officials said Wednesday.

The new systems can process up to 500 bags an hour, compared to the 150 to 160 bags per hour on the older machines, the TSA said.

The new systems can process up to 500 bags an hour, compared to the 150 to 160 bags per hour on the older machines, the TSA said.

The DHS said the money will now upgrade systems at 10 additional airports. Earlier this year the DHS announced funding for baggage screening at airports in 15 cities.

The money will be used to speed up construction of in-line baggage screening systems, which take advantage of the airline's existing conveyor belt systems to check bags, eliminating the need for minivan-size bomb detection systems now found in many airport lobbies.

Government auditors have long complained about existing systems, which the Transportation Security Administration rushed into place to meet congressional deadlines after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

At airports with in-line systems, airline workers at the ticketing counters place the bags on conveyor belts, which pass through explosive detectors on their way to the aircraft. That is more efficient than stand-alone systems, which the TSA employees must staff.

In addition, in-line systems can process up to 500 bags an hour, compared to the 150 to 160 bags per hour processed by stand-alone machines, the TSA said.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a statement that DHS was able to "stretch our resources" by managing the recovery money and by negotiating with airports.

In addition to the $700 million intended for checked baggage systems, $300 million is being allocated for checkpoint technology, such as new X-ray machines, "whole body imaging" technology and bottled liquid scanners.

The new airports expected to get stimulus money for in-line explosive detection systems are:

• Washington Dulles International Airport (Chantilly, Virginia)

• Lambert-St. Louis International Airport (St. Louis, Missouri)

• Yellowstone Regional Airport (Cody, Wyoming)

• William P. Hobby Airport (Houston, Texas)

• St. Petersburg/Clearwater International Airport (St. Petersburg, Florida)

• Gallatin Field Airport (Bozeman, Montana)

• Little Rock National Airport (Little Rock, Arkansas)

• Tulsa International Airport (Tulsa, Oklahoma)

• Charlotte Douglas International Airport (Charlotte, North Carolina)

• Colorado Springs Airport (Colorado Springs, Colorado)

Earlier this year, DHS announced funding for airports in the following cities: Atlanta, Georgia; Columbus, Ohio; Dayton, Ohio; Honolulu, Hawaii; Huntsville, Alabama; Jackson, Wyoming; Maui, Hawaii; New Orleans, Louisiana; Orange County, California; Orlando, Florida; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Portland, Maine; and Sacramento, San Francisco and San Jose, California.

To learn more about the DHS Recovery Act projects, visit www.dhs.gov/recovery.

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