Game changer for airport biosecurity

The most sophisticated X-ray technology available to scrutinise the bags of international travellers for any unwanted pests was unveiled today at Auckland Airport by Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor.

“Our dynamic biosecurity environment means we must constantly adjust our scrutiny and strengthen our border security as threats emerge,” Damien O’Connor said.

The million-dollar scanner features three-dimensional imaging (real-time tomography) that will make it easier for quarantine officers to pinpoint risky items that have been difficult to detect in the past such as dried meat, goods hidden behind laptops and stink bugs.

“Biosecurity New Zealand is also developing software with Australian counterparts that will allow the scanner to automatically recognise risky items such as fruit that could harbour fruit fly.

“This is a game changer for biosecurity. It is the most sophisticated piece of X-ray technology we could have in place to support our officers at Auckland Airport and provides another useful tool in our multi-layered biosecurity system, sitting alongside 50 detector dog teams, arrival cards, risk assessment and public awareness campaigns.

“The scanner will check bags before passengers pick them up and images will be sent to quarantine ahead of any searches, similar to how security X-ray screening operates at many major international airports.

“Ultimately we want this technology in place across the passenger, mail and cargo pathways as traveller numbers and trade increases.

“It’s important we all do our bit for biosecurity as we all benefit from a country relatively free of unwanted pests and diseases and we all suffer the consequences of an incursion,” Damien O’Connor said.

Attached: Biosecurity New Zealand scanner factsheet.

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