TSA Awards Contract for Purchase of More Than Half Ton of Explosives to Train Bomb-Sniffing Dogs

By Edwin Mora | August 30, 2012 | 5:39pm EDT

FILE - This Jan. 10, 2007 file photo shows Transportation Security Officer Juan Morales at the Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ann Johansson, File)

(CNSNews.com) The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has awarded an estimated $57,000 contract for the purchase of 1,400 pounds of explosives to be used as “a more realistic training aid” by its bomb-detection canine team program.

According to a TSA order statement posted on Aug. 9 as a Microsoft Word document on the official government marketplace Web site FedBizOpps.gov, the Canine Explosive Section of its National Canine Program (NCP), “requires the 700 pounds of High Density Ammonium Nitrate and 700 pounds of A-5 Flake RDX to  provide Canine Explosive Training Aids  (CETAs) to NCP participants. The supplier must be able to meet the exact requirements by August 31st, 2012. Substitutions for this product are not acceptable.”

The Canine Explosive Section “selected to use High Density Ammonium Nitrate and A-5 Flake RDX as it will provide NCP participants with a more realistic training aid and compliment the current aids provided,” the TSA said in its order statement.

On Aug. 14, the contract recipient was identified by FedBizOpps.gov as the American Homeland Security Consulting Group, LLC in Washington, D.C. The contract award price was listed as $56,994.

The ATF [Department of Justice Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives] Law Enforcement Guide to Explosives Incident Reporting points out that ammonium nitrate and RDX are “explosives.”

According to the ATF guide, “In order to detonate ammonium nitrate, the use of a booster is required. Commercially, Pentolite and RDX are used as a booster, while the military will often use TNT as the booster.”

Government Security News (GSN) first reported TSA’s request on Aug. 8.

The William J. Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City, N.J., is to receive the order of ammonium nitrate and RDX.

As of the time this story was submitted for publication, TSA had not responded to a CNSNews.com request for comment on why its canine training programs needs a “more realistic training aid” now and whether this is the first time that it orders real explosives to train drug-sniffing dogs.

Jim Fotenos, a TSA spokesman, told CNSNews.com in an e-mail that he was “working” on CNSNews.com’s request, adding that he could not guarantee a response by deadline, but would “be in touch.”

According to the TSA Web site, its “National Explosives Detection Canine Team Program prepares dogs and handlers to serve on the front lines of America's War on Terror. These very effective, mobile teams can quickly locate and identify dangerous materials that may present a threat to transportation systems. Just as important, they can quickly rule out the presence of dangerous materials in unattended packages, structures or vehicles, allowing the free and efficient flow of commerce.”

“Law enforcement officers from all over the country travel to TSA's Explosives Detection Canine Handler Course at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas where they are paired with one of TSA's canine teammates,” TSA said on its Web site.

The DHS Web site points out that Congress has requested the regulation of “the sale and transfer of ammonium nitrate by an ammonium nitrate facility...to prevent the misappropriation or use of ammonium nitrate in an act of terrorism.”

TSA’s order of 1,400 pounds of explosives constitutes more than half a ton given that there are 2,000 pounds in a ton.

It has been widely reported that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, DHS and the Social Security Administration have recently ordered hundreds of thousands of hollow-point bullets to train law enforcement agents.

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