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Fumes Disrupt Check-Ins at Minn. Airport

August 22, 2006

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ A security checkpoint was closed and 19 people were taken to hospitals Tuesday after screeners at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport complained of irritating fumes.

No one was seriously injured and no flights were believed to have been affected, authorities said.

Airport spokesman Pat Hogan said security screeners reported an odd smell that was irritating to their eyes, noses and throats about 11 a.m. Some described it as sweet and others as peppery.

The airport fire department and a hazardous materials team were called, but neither could not find the source of the smell, Hogan said.

``It is possible it was a discarded item, like pepper spray or perfume,″ he said.

Nineteen workers from the Transportation Security Administration or an airline were taken to hospitals; all were conscious and lucid when they left, Hogan said. One traveler was treated at the scene.

The check-in counters for American Airlines and U.S. Airways, near the checkpoint, were closed while the investigation continued Monday afternoon. A makeshift ticket counter was set up to handle their travelers, and five other security checkpoints remained open.

Hogan said neither affected airline had flights scheduled before 2 p.m. and to his knowledge no flights were delayed.

Teacher Ann Zeiss, heading to Los Angeles on a flight due to leave at 3:15 p.m., said she wasn’t worried about making her flight or particularly fearful despite recent terrorism scares.

``I think it’s important that people keep flying,″ she said

The incident happened hours before President Bush was scheduled to arrive at 2 p.m. at a National Guard base adjacent to the airport.

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