Los Angeles Times

Homeland Security replacing troubled biodefense system with another flawed approach

WASHINGTON - The Trump administration is moving to replace BioWatch, the nation's problem-plagued system for detecting airborne attacks of anthrax spores or other infectious agents, with technology that also has severe shortcomings, a Los Angeles Times investigation has found.

The first new device was installed without public notice in December and others are planned at 11 other U.S. locations with a goal of supplanting BioWatch "within the next couple of years," James F. McDonnell, an assistant secretary of Homeland Security, said in an interview.

McDonnell, who heads Homeland Security's office of countering weapons of mass destruction, said the new system, called BioDetection 21, will be faster and more reliable than BioWatch. He said he hopes to put as many as 9,000 new detection devices in place by 2025.

But testing at an Army facility last year and use of the sensing devices in previous military operations

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