Our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy have changed.

By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

Stimulus to bring body scanners to airports

By Aaron Smith, CNNMoney.com staff


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The U.S. government is using $25 million in stimulus money to buy and install full body scanners in airports this year, in an effort to ramp up security and create jobs.

The Transportation Security Administration is using funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to purchase 150 of the full body scanners, according to TSA spokeswoman Sarah Horowitz.

rapiscan_scan.03.jpg
Rapiscan uses low-dose X-rays to scan airline passengers for weapons and explosives.

These "backscatter" scanners, which use X-rays to provide detailed images of hidden objects in or under a person's clothing, are manufactured by Rapiscan, a subsidiary of Hawthorn, Calif.-based OSI (OSIS). The scanners cost from $150,000 to $180,000 apiece, according to the company.

Peter Kant, vice president of global government affairs for Rapiscan, said his company received a $25 million contract from the TSA to produce the 150 backscatter scanners. The contract has helped create 25 jobs, mostly manufacturing positions in the company's Ocean Springs, Miss. facility, as well as some engineering jobs, he said.

Kant said the U.S. government has given the TSA the green light to spend $173 million on scanners, which includes the initial $25 million contract.

"Should we get additional orders, we will have to hire additional manufacturing positions," he said in an e-mail to CNNMoney.com.

Horowitz would not specify how much money had been earmarked for TSA spending on scanners, but she said the agency has enough funds that would come from the stimulus program and other federal sources to buy an additional 300 scanners.

The backscatter scanners will be used in airports around the country, but the TSA would not say where. One-third of the backscatter scanners have already been delivered, said Kant.

These scanners are used to detect "anything hidden on the body that is not the body" including metal, plastic, glass and liquids, said Kant, while using X-ray doses that are too low to harm the person being scanned.

"You would get more radiation from the first few minutes of your flight, just from the sun," he said.

Kant said this technology could be effective in detecting explosives, such as those that were allegedly hidden in the underwear of a terrorism suspect on a Christmas Eve flight from Amsterdam to Detroit.

If Rapiscan's scanners had been in place, according to Kant, the incident could have been averted. "We do believe, from what we know from published reports, that we would have detected it," he said.

The TSA has already implemented 40 scanners using a different type of technology called "millimeter wave advanced imaging" in 19 airports servicing Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Miami, Detroit, Dallas and other cities. These scanners were manufactured by Woburn, Mass.-based L-3 Communications Corp. (LLL, Fortune 500To top of page

Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,400.75 -610.32 -3.39%
Nasdaq 4,707.98 -202.06 -4.12%
S&P 500 2,037.41 -75.91 -3.59%
Treasuries 1.58 -0.16 -9.20%
Data as of 9:13pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 13.00 -1.04 -7.41%
Microsoft Corp 49.83 -2.08 -4.01%
Ford Motor Co 12.52 -0.88 -6.57%
General Electric Co 29.82 -1.37 -4.39%
Micron Technology In... 13.21 -0.84 -5.98%
Data as of Jun 24
Sponsors

Sections

For the past 20 years, any airline based in a European Union country has been able to fly anywhere within the single market whenever it wants. Brexit complicates that immensely for a host of carriers. More

Both candidates would increase the country's debt, but Trump would do so "massively," according to a new analysis. More

Startup Spark examined the effects that political candidates had on the human brain and nervous system using a device called BrainWave. Here's what it found. More