Travelers Still Taking Banned Items to Logan

Federal screeners are seizing roughly 11,500 banned items, such as knives, scissors, and pepper spray, every month.


"I'm sure that 99-point-x percent of the time, it's inadvertent," said Craig P. Coy, executive director of the Massachusetts Port Authority, which runs Logan.

Some travelers interviewed about the amnesty bins said anything that can help avoid time-consuming disputes and backups at security lines is welcome. But Arnold Rots, a Harvard University astrophysicist who flies frequently, said he couldn't understand what he described as seemingly arbitrary rules. For example, pool cues are banned but canes are not; nail files are allowed but not knives of similar size.

"The system is designed to be a nuisance to honest people in an attempt to convince them that they are safe," Rots said, "while a determined terrorist can get through with deadly weapons."

So what does Logan do with all its carry-on contraband? The TSA uses two organizations to haul out the items: The state of New Hampshire surplus property division takes resaleable items like jackknifes, scissors, and tools, while Clean Harbors Inc., a Braintree toxic-waste-handling firm, picks up lighters, pepper spray, and dangerous liquids like paint or solvents, to safely dispose of them.

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