New York City’s response plans for a chemical or biological attack will be put to the test this month as part of a study of the city’s subway system.
The MTA says the Department of Homeland Security will conduct their experiment alongside a team of researchers and city agencies. They will be releasing a non-toxic gas in about 120 locations operated by transit agencies.
According to the DHS, the test will take place at Times Square, World Trade Center Complex, Union Square Park, the Union Square subway stations, as well as the Oculus transit hub.
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The tests will be conducted on five separate days between Oct. 18 and 29 during which time it’s likely that researchers and police officers will be seen inside and outside of subway stations.
NBC New York reports: Straphangers and anyone in the vicinity of testing operations is advised that the gas is non-toxic and poses no health risk to the public.
The study simulates “the aerosol release of a biological agent in a densely populated urban environment.”
“The study will track movement of non-toxic material and the results from these tests will be used to learn more about the relationship between airflow in street level and underground environments,” the MTA said.
Commuters can expect to see teams of researchers working at locations scattered across the city both above and below ground.
The study is part of ongoing testing under the federal Urban Threat Dispersion program. New York City has been tested before, back in 2016, as have other major cities including Washington D.C. and Boston.