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Newark Airport Travelers May See Smoke as Part of Emergency Disaster Drill

Travelers at Newark Liberty International Airport may see smoke tomorrow as the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and other agencies take part in a security drill that simulates a vehicle explosion and a partial building collapse.

The exercise will take place in and around Terminal B from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. and shouldn’t affect flight operations or travelers, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said today in a statement. A “small portion” of the terminal and some lanes will be closed as part of the simulation.

“This is one of, if not the largest, drills at Newark,” said Ron Marsico, a spokesman for the port authority.

The drill may include flares, depending on the weather, the port authority said. Newark is the 12th-busiest U.S. airport with 35.3 million passengers last year, according to Airports Council International, a Geneva-based trade group.

In addition to training for emergency responders, the exercise may send a warning to would-be attackers, said Hans Weber, president of Tecop International Inc., a consulting firm based in San Diego that advises on aviation security.

"It might include a message to these people, ‘Well, if you think it’s our soft underbelly, think again, we are trying to be ready for that,’" Weber said.

Airport Security Concerns

Airport security worldwide has received heightened attention after attacks including a June 2007 case in which a burning sport-utility vehicle targeted Glasgow International Airport’s terminal. Police later determined it was related to two attempted London car bombings.

One of the four flights in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the U.S. embarked from the Newark airport. United Airlines Flight 93, bound for San Francisco, crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after passengers tried to retake control of the plane from hijackers. Everyone aboard was killed.

In April 2009, a backup U.S. presidential jet swooped low over New York for a publicity photo, frightening Wall Street workers and prompting concerns of another terrorist attack. The plane flew as low as 1,000 feet (305 meters), rattling windows and some office workers fled their buildings. President Barack Obama, who wasn’t aboard the jet, later called the flight “a mistake.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Will Daley in New York at wdaley2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ed Dufner at edufner@bloomberg.net

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