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Miami Airport Concourse Cleared Because of Fumes

Aired August 21, 2002 - 12:02   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: The concourse was emptied out more than two hours ago, and is expected to be shut down for at least another hour.
For the latest on this developing story, we are going to go live to Mark Potter.

Mark, what is happening there now?

MARK POTTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Carol.

Well, we have a better idea now of what was happening at the Miami International Airport, and the bottom line is that the situation is over. Authorities say they are cleaning up the area now. They expect to have the concourse area, the security area at concourse B reopened within the hour. They are simply doing cleanup. As you can see behind me, the crowd is gathered there.

Let me tell what you authorities believe happened. An hour or so ago, people in the area of the security areas, said that they were smelling something, an odor, they were coughing, they were having tears in their eyes, throat problems, and authorities now believe this was caused not by anthrax, not by anything criminal, but maybe something accidental related to a construction site.

Officials have reached us just a short while ago, and say it appears this may have come from a construction site, either above the area, of the security area, or below it. They do not know exactly what the chemical was. They are guessing it may be some sort of an epoxy or something like that used in the construction process. They don't really know, but they say it is not a biohazard, it is not anything to worry about in terms of any sort of terrorist attack.

They do not again, to underscore, think it is anthrax or anything like it. They say it is probably a glue or something like that. They don't know for sure, because they have not located it, but they are searching the areas above and below the security area, and they say that they hope to know the answers to that question shortly.

They say that they expect to have this area cleaned up in about an hour. Thirty-five people, they say, were treated on the scene for minor symptoms. No one is one is complaining of any sort of serious illnesses. No one has asked to go to the hospital. Flights in the area, at these gates were diverted to all the other areas. The airport kept rolling.

The reason they thought they could keep the rest of the airport open was because they were on separate air-conditioning systems, and they thought that this aerosol had dissipated. They know from testing -- the different conditions they thought that the aerosol dissipated. They know from testing, the Hazmat teams brought testing equipment in, that this is not a biohazard, that's why they are able to guess that it is something from the construction site, but again, as of a few moments ago, they couldn't tell us exactly what it was, but they say that this situation is winding up, and the airport will return to normal, shortly.

Carol, back to you.

LIN: That's good news indeed. Thank you very much.

Mark Potter, reporting live from Miami,

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