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Small airports irked by removal of body scanners

BISMARCK, N.D. — Managers at dozens of small airports have expressed outrage at federal officials for hauling new full-body scanners away from their facilities and sending them to large hubs that have not yet upgraded older machines criticized for showing too much anatomy.

US Transportation Security Administration contractors were threatened with arrest after officials at a Montana airport said they received no notice before the workers arrived. In North Dakota, the scanners are set to be yanked from a terminal remodeled last year with $40,000 in local funds just to fit the new machines.

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‘‘We think it’s silly to have installed the thing and then come back nine months later and take it out,’’ Bismarck airport manager Greg Haug said.

The L3 Millimeter Wave body scanners, which produce cartoonlike outlines of travelers, are being removed from 49 smaller airports nationwide to help replace 174 full-body scanners at larger airports. After debate erupted about bare images of a person’s body the full-body scanners produce, Congress set a June deadline for them to be removed or updated.

But officials at smaller airports said removing the devices will produce longer lines, more pat-downs, decreased security, and waste taxpayers’ money.

TSA said that it will cost about $2.5 million to remove the machines from the 49 smaller airports and reinstall them at bigger facilities. The agency would not identify the specific airports where the scanners will be removed. Airport directors said the machines cost about $150,000 each.

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