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Body scanners used for primary screening

By Maria-Jose Subiria

msubiria@news-daily.com

By the end of this week, all of the Transportation Security Administration's full-body scanners at Hartsfield-Jackson are expected to be used in the primary screening of passengers, as opposed to screening only those who may have been deemed in need of extra scrutiny, a TSA spokesman said.

According to the TSA's web site, the body scanners detect metallic and non-metallic threats, including weapons, explosives and other items, without physical contact.

TSA Spokesman Jon Allen said three units have been stationed at Atlanta's airport since November 2008 -- two units at the Main Security Check-Point area, near the Atrium, and one on Concourse E, at the international security checkpoint area, for arriving passengers.

One body scanner at the Main Security Check-Point area was switched to primary screening last week, and the one on Concourse E was switched in early May, he said.

When used as a secondary screening method, Allen said passengers would be instructed to enter the machines after, for example, setting off an alarm.

Allen said he is unable to indicate which lanes the units are installed in, for security purposes.

He said the TSA does not expect the devices to impact screening wait times.

When TSA officers utilize the units, Allen said it takes an average of 20 seconds to scan the passenger and analyze the image.

"The process for screening their bags [carry-on luggage] doesn't change any," he said.

Hartsfield-Jackson is expected to receive additional body scanners later this year, Allen said.

The units have been switched to primary screening at 13 airports, including Hartsfield-Jackson, he added.

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On the net:

Transportation Security Administration: www.tsa.gov