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Underground Transportation Restoration Project

The Underground Transport Restoration (UTR) Project is a collaboration between the Department of Homeland Security and EPA to develop capabilities for the rapid return to service of subway systems following the release of a persistent biological agent, such as B. anthracis spores. As part of the UTR Project, EPA researchers are developing a better understanding of methodologies for remediation of the underground subway infrastructure and assets, like rail cars. The demonstration, led by EPA’s Office of Emergency Management’s Consequence Management Advisory Division, highlighted current remediation methods, including EPA lab-tested and developed methods, in a mock subway system.

The Underground Transportation Restoration (UTR) Operational Technology Demonstration (OTD) was conducted at Fort A.P. Hill’s Asymmetric Warfare Training Center (AWTC) to evaluate decontamination technologies that could be used in the event of an anthrax incident in a subway system.  The project used a non-pathogenic surrogate that behaves much like anthrax spores in terms of how it is transported in the air, settles and how it can be killed.

The project consisted of two rounds of rounds of background sampling, agent release, decontamination, sampling, waste removal and decontamination, and Orchard sprayer used to spray a pH adjusted bleach solutionpost-decontamination sampling.  The technologies that were evaluated included a fogger that produced a fog from diluted bleach and skid mounted sprayer that sprayed a liquid pH adjusted bleach solution.  Both technologies were selected because they are off-the-shelf and could easily be purchased in an emergency.

Thousands of post decontamination samples were collected and are currently being analyzed.  The success of the decontamination efforts will not be known until the samples are processed and results available and studied, but the demonstration was helpful in defining the many challenges that could be faced during a real incident including sealing portions of a subway tunnel, sampling unique surfaces such as railway ballast, and managing wastes that cannot be decontaminated in situ.

Watch the video to Lean more about the research and demonstration here.