Reporting Paul Murnane
NEW YORK (1010 WINS / WCBS 880 / CBS 2) — A security scare shut down parts of Newark Liberty Airport on Monday morning. A checked bag set off a radiation alarm, leading to an evacuation.
“I was like oh my God what’s going on? I don’t know what to think,” passenger Alisha Reid told CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown.
Holiday travel chaos was made even worse when bomb squad teams were called into Terminal A at Newark Liberty to investigate a suspicious piece of luggage.
“They just said there’s a security breach of some nature and we just got piled into that line back there and all we saw was emergency vehicle after emergency vehicle going by, but nobody was telling us what was going on,” passenger Chris Burdette said.
Passengers were forced to evacuate the terminal. Some, like Joan Dugan, were made to stand outside for nearly an hour.
“We came in a taxi. They just dropped us in the middle of nowhere and we just had to stand there for 40 minutes in the cold,” Dugan said.
“I just wanted to make my flight,” another passenger added.
Police flagged a passenger’s checked bag because it was emitting radiation, but later discovered it contained only a computer monitor — which normally emits small amounts of radiation.
Within an hour law enforcement gave the all-clear.
“This is the second time this has happened to us in consecutive Christmases. It happened to us in Minneapolis so it can happen anywhere,” passenger Stan Shores said.
While the delay was frustrating — and scary – most of the passengers said it was better to be safe than sorry.
“[It was] mass chaos, pretty much,” Burdette said.
“I would rather be delayed for an hour or two or whatever it takes rather than have something catastrophic happen,” Carol Shores said.
“I’m glad that they are keeping security this tight, so at least we will be safe,” Alisha Reid said.
Federal authorities said the investigation into what happened is ongoing. The Transportation Security Administration said the monitor was going to the same destination as its owner — and there was never any danger.