Thursday, July 13, 2006

Toronto Braces for Terrorism

The bad news: If a major terrorist explosion went off today in the tunnels of Toronto's two older subway lines, the underground ventilation system wouldn't be able to pull out the smoke, posing a serious risk to people trying to evacuate.
The good news: Folks at the Toronto Transit Commission know it and have embarked on a plan to install 260 modern ventilation fans throughout the system and remove 100 older fans by 2010.
"Our fans right now are ... fine for the ventilation of the system on a regular basis," said Adam Giambrone, co-chair of the TTC. "But should there be an explosion in a tunnel, should there be some sort of other attack, they don't have the capacity to suck out enough of the smoke, which is critical if you're expecting people to evacuate."
So it goes with disaster preparedness on Toronto's subway: From the removal of garbage cans to the installation of closed-circuit video cameras, the TTC has identified dozens of projects to make the subway safer for its 800,000 daily riders and better able to handle an emergency like a terrorist attack.
That's on top of its own disaster plans and working relationships with the Toronto Police intelligence unit, Transport Canada, and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service -- partnerships forged after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.