Monday, April 27, 2009

Dishing the Dirt

I’ve been reading some statements around the web about a recent incident at Piedmont Triad Airport (PTI) in North Carolina involving dirt and fossils being mistaken for a possible bomb.

To the flying public, I fully understand that it has to seem ridiculous that dirt and fossils could be mistaken for a bomb. If I didn’t know anything about how x-ray images looked or what TSA was looking for, I’d probably be on the “you guys actually thought that was a bomb?” bandwagon.

I’m going to try to make this as simple as I can, saying what I am able to say.

1) Images of items on the x-ray monitor often look nothing like they normally do to the naked eye.

2)Dirt and fossils as well as many other normal day to day items can resemble what our officers are trained to look for on the x-ray monitor.

3) Bags often contain electronics and wires that overlap these items making them look even more suspicious.

As a former TSO I can think of a couple of times where by chance, everyday normal harmless items were laid out in a bag in such a way to look exactly like a textbook improvised explosive device. (IED)

In this particular case, a Bomb Appraisal Officer (BAO) was summoned and they eventually determined there was no threat. When you think there might be an explosive in a bag, you don’t just whip it out of the x-ray tunnel and dive into it. There are procedures that must be followed for the well-being of everybody involved. Of course, once the bag was opened, it was obvious what the items were and that they did not pose a threat.

I hope this clears things up a little bit in regards to items being mistaken for IEDs.


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