Agency: Machines Are Safe, But Move Will Help Speed Up Security Lines

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The controversial full body airport scanners are being removed from LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International, the Transportation Security Administration announced Sunday.

The Backscatter machines were first used at JFK exactly two years ago amid a flurry of controversy.

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WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reports from LaGuardia Airport

Opponents said the very detailed image of the human body provided by the machines is an invasion of privacy, while others argued the level of radiation emitted by the Backscatters could be dangerous over the long term.

The TSA said its decision to pull the machines is in an effort to speed up security lines at the two New York City airports, and insists the full body scanners are safe.

Some passengers at LaGuardia said they did not mind the use of the Backscatter body scanner machines.

“It didn’t bother me personally. Again, if I want to be a safe on a plane, if that’s what they need to do to get us on there and have us arrive safely, it’s fine by me,” one woman told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell.

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“Just feel real confident. Once I go through there, I know everything’s been checked out,” another air traveler told Haskell.

Each Backscatter machine costs $160,000, Haskell reported.

“If they can keep the same level of security then I have no issue with it, but they have to get an alternative to make sure that the passengers and the airlines are secure,” another traveler told Haskell.

Officials said currently there are nearly 250 full body scanners at 37 airports nationwide.

Newark Liberty International Airport uses a completely different machine called a millimeter wave machine, which is considered to be a safer technology.

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