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Environmental Assessment of Proposed NYC Simulant Particle Releases for the Viral Phenomenology Program

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) plans to conduct a scientific study on aerosol behavior in New York City buses and subway trains. The study will be performed on several buses and subway trains that do not have commuters or other riders from the public and will not disrupt normal transit operations. The purpose of this study is to gather data on the behavior of aerosols in public modes of transportation. Testing will occur over approximately seven days in the window between January 25, 2021 and February 5, 2021. A special focus of the study will be tests of various methods to mitigate the potential spread of aerosols in buses and subway trains.

This study is part of the Department’s ongoing commitment to the safety of the public when using vital modes of transportation. The proposed tests will release non-toxic, inert particle tracers in a controlled fashion in several buses and subway trains to evaluate practical methods to reduce and mitigate airborne concentrations of aerosols. Buses and subway cars will be cleaned at the conclusion of the study.

Pursuant to section 102(2) (c) of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 and the Council on Environmental Quality regulations (40 CFR Parts 1500-1508) on implementing the procedural provisions of NEPA, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) prepared a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) on the planned releases of an aerosolized solution of particulate material in an out-of-service bus, subway car and commuter rail car at locations inaccessible to the public within the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) transit system. The Draft EA was made available for public review and comment for a period of 30 days and comments were considered in the preparation of the Final EA.  Based on the information presented in the Final EA, DHS finds that the Proposed Action will not significantly affect the quality of the human environment or otherwise include any condition requiring consultation pursuant to NEPA. Accordingly, on January 21, 2021 DHS issued a Finding of No Significant Impact.

Created Date: January 25, 2021
Last Published Date: January 26, 2021
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