TSA and North Carolina Department of Transportation begin pilot test of explosives detection technology at Cherry Branch Ferry

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Local Press Release
Monday, August 18, 2008

HAVELOCK, N.C. – The Transportation Security Administration, in conjunction with the North Carolina Department of Transportation, today begins a four-week pilot test of explosives screening of vehicles at the Cherry Branch Terminal. The pilot employs backscatter imaging technology to screen vehicles for explosives before they are driven onto the Cherry Branch-Minnesott Beach Ferry near Havelock.

“Vehicle screening technology is yet another tool that TSA can deploy to respond to threats that arise from new intelligence or as part of major events,” said John Sammon, TSA assistant administrator, Office of Transportation Sector Network Management. “This test will allow us to develop a plan for future deployment during times of heightened security threat levels.”

Prior to boarding, drivers will proceed slowly through a screening portal which will capture high-quality, photo-like images from three sides of a vehicle’s cargo and contents. After exiting the portal, drivers will be instructed by TSA transportation security officers to stop for approximately 10-15 seconds while the images are evaluated. If it is determined that there are no explosives in the vehicle, the driver will then be directed to the vehicle staging area. If there is a need for additional screening, drivers will be directed to a secondary screening location where TSA-certified explosives detection canine teams will be available to inspect vehicles.

"More than 486,000 passengers pass through this terminal annually and ride the Cherry Branch-Minnesott Beach Ferry," said NCDOT Ferry Director Jack Cahoon. "By working with TSA, Homeland Security and local law enforcement, we are helping to ensure that we are doing everything possible to keep the ferry and our passengers safe.”

Testing will occur Monday through Friday. The portal has passed government standards for health and safety which enables drivers to move through the portal without having to exit their vehicles.

For further information about TSA, please visit our website at www.tsa.gov. To provide feedback on this or other security issues visit TSA’s blog at www.tsa.gov/blog.