TSA removing full-body scanners from Kalispell, Helena airports

2013-02-20T10:45:00Z 2014-08-14T18:58:58Z TSA removing full-body scanners from Kalispell, Helena airportsThe Associated Press The Associated Press
February 20, 2013 10:45 am  • 

HELENA – The Transportation Security Administration is removing its full-body scanners from airports in Kalispell and Helena this week to move them to larger airports, Montana airport officials and the agency said.

The move means a return to the older walk-through metal detectors and pat-downs in smaller airports that are losing their scanners, the two Montana airport directors said.

“We’re really disappointed that the TSA is removing them from our airport,” Glacier Park International Airport Director Cindi Martin told The Daily Inter Lake. “People had become comfortable with the scanner. It certainly did speed the process and removed the need for the enhanced pat-down.”

Martin and Helena Regional Airport Director Ron Mercer said Tuesday their airports’ millimeter-wave machines are among those being removed to replace 174 full-body scanners being taken out of larger airports.

The low-dose X-ray units are being removed from the larger airports because Rapidscan, the company that makes them, was unable to meet a June 2013 congressional deadline for software upgrades to show screeners less-revealing images of passengers.

The Kalispell airport’s scanner was to be removed Wednesday, and the Helena one Thursday.

TSA spokesman Nico Melendez said Wednesday the agency began removing scanners from airports across the country last week, including from Boise International and Phoenix-Mesa Gateway airports, and expects to have the work done by June 1.

The agency wants to “ensure that these units are in place at checkpoints where they’re going to be used for a more significant portion of operating hours,” Melendez said.

Forty-nine airports will be left without machines after they’re moved to other airports, he said. Melendez said he didn’t have a list of the affected airports, but he noted the airports in Billings, Bozeman and Missoula are not slated to lose their scanners.

Mercer issued a statement Wednesday saying, “it is clear the TSA is trying to move very quickly with limited coordination to get as many of the machines removed before anything can be done to stop the process.”

Mercer’s statement also said the Great Falls airport wasn’t going to get the full-body screener it was promised.

Great Falls International Airport Director John Faulkner said Wednesday he hasn’t heard anything definitive, but the airport and the architect on its ongoing $7 million remodeling project have asked the TSA to confirm its equipment plans, which were to include a full-body screener.

The major impetus for the remodel was to update and add security equipment so the airport would have one lane with a metal detector and one with a full-body screener, Faulkner said.

“I feel that they’re going to break that promise,” Faulkner said. After the remodel, Faulkner said, it’s possible the airport will have less capacity to process passengers than it did before.

Faulkner said he questions why “one day it was very important that we have these scanners, and scarcely a few months later it’s not important that we have these scanners” and what effect that will have on security.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(5) Comments

  1. walter12
    Report Abuse
    walter12 - February 21, 2013 7:11 am
    The TSA today under this Napolitano woman is like some sort of Stalinist organization in the 1930s. They should be disbanded now. They have become like leftist thugs intimidating honest people for their master, this Obama.
  2. Fisher1949
    Report Abuse
    Fisher1949 - February 20, 2013 7:18 pm
    This is going to cost us another $1 million that didn’t need to be spent had TSA not lied in the first place. Everyone at TSA should get a pay cut until all of the replacement costs are repaid to taxpayers.
  3. The_Boneshackler
    Report Abuse
    The_Boneshackler - February 20, 2013 4:46 pm
    Former Head of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff sure got wealthy on the taxpayer's dime....

    Chertoff accused of abusing public trust by touting body scanners
    -- http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2010-01-01/politics/36856617_1_rapiscan-systems-body-scanners-chertoff-group
  4. BR
    Report Abuse
    BR - February 20, 2013 2:10 pm
    The time has come to remove all software and hardware from airport screening that are invasive of citizens' privacy.
  5. dsrobins
    Report Abuse
    dsrobins - February 20, 2013 1:19 pm
    TSA spent billions developing and deploying those scanners across the country. Now they are being junked. Congratulations, TSA on your incredible malfeasance, corruption and incompetence. No one will miss those machines though.
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