O'Hare International Airport and other major airports nationwide have been removing the controversial X-ray body scanners and replacing them with machines that use electromagnetic waves, a Transportation Security Administration spokesman said Friday.
TSA is in the process of removing all 23 body scanners from O'Hare to make room for 29 new scanners that can cover more lanes of passengers going through security, said TSA spokesman Luis Casanova.
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"In an effort to ensure the most efficient and effective use of security technology, TSA is strategically reallocating backscatter advance imaging technology units in order to allow for expanded use of advance imaging technology units at other airports," Casanova said.
The TSA announced in early September that it would launch a $44.8 million project to purchase the 300-millimeter wave Advanced Imaging Technology, or AIT, machines for airports nationwide and replace the current body scanners.
O'Hare was one of about 75 airports that began using the body scanners a couple of years ago. Not all air travelers were selected for full-body scans. The majority have been required only to walk through more common metal detectors.
TSA began removing the O'Hare body scanners in September and should complete the project by January.
Midway International Airport body scanners will not be replaced "in the near future," Casanova said.
The decision to replace the scanners was not made related to the amount of radiation they emitted, but instead to speed up the security lines through busier airports, Casanova said. The body scanners will then be installed at smaller, less busy airports, he added.