MBTA will run summer tests for bioterrorism in subway tunnels

Agents from the Department of Homeland Security plan to run bioterrorism tests on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority by releasing live bacteria into local subway tunnels this summer.

The bacteria strain, which is harmless to individuals who are healthy, will be used to determine if safety sensors in the tunnels are working. Sensors created to detect airborne attacks have already been installed at MBTA stations in Somerville and Cambridge. The goal of the devices is to detect dangerous biological agents and alert authorities, giving them the opportunity to take protective measures within 20 minutes, My Fox Boston reports.

"God forbid we have any kind of terror attack in our tunnels, we need to know how to react and this testing with the Department of Homeland Security will help us know how to evacuate and make sure people are safe," Richard Davey, the MBTA general manager, said, according to My Fox Boston.

The tests are likely to take place during the summer in both Somerville and Cambridge and would occur during off hours. The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency and public health officials will be monitoring the exercises.

Concerned citizens can attend a public hearing on the issue of the testing on May 16 at the Cambridge YMCA.