Subway Gas Test Begins Today: Why Is NYPD Pumping Chemicals Into New York City Train Tunnels? [VIDEO]

By Philip Ross on July 8, 2013 1:48 PM EDT

subway gas test
The subway gas test will begin today in New York City. (Photo: Reuters)

The subway gas test, a $3.4 million project funded by the U.S. federal government, begins today in New York City. The test involves the NYPD working in conjunction with scientists from the Brookhaven National Laboratory, a national laboratory located in Upton, N.Y. on Long Island. They plan to pump a non-toxic chemical into the city's subway tunnels and monitor how the gas spreads. The subway gas test will take place on 21 subway lines and dozens of stations citywide.

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The controlled subway gas test involves the use of perfluorocarbon tracers, an odorless, colorless and non-toxic gas usually reserved for finding leaks in hazardous waste containment systems. Over the next 20 days, officials will pump the gases through subway tunnels across the city on three different days in order to see how airborne contaminants travel through the city's subway grid. Their hope is that the drill will help them develop an emergency response plan in the event of a chemical attack.

"The NYPD works for the best but plans for the worst when it comes to potentially catastrophic attacks such as ones employing radiological contaminants or weaponized anthrax," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said in a statement. He added: "This field study with Brookhaven's outstanding expertise will help prepare and safeguard the city's population in the event of an actual attack."

According to New York Daily News, the public will be able to spot roughly 200 detection devices located throughout the five boroughs in both underground and street-level stations. The subway gas test devices will be clearly marked and will be placed in security stations, street lights and will also be carried by researchers.

Eight years ago, in the summer of 2005, researchers in New York conducted a related subway gas test in Midtown. Similar tests have also been carried out in Boston and Washington, D.C.

Read more from iScience Times:

NYC Subway Deaths Haunt Operators As New Questions Are Left Unanswered

Man Pushed In Front Of Train In 2nd Deadly Attack In NYC This Month; Police Searching For Woman [VIDEO]

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