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Security Spurs High Tech Market

September 19, 2002

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ Companies hawking portable decontamination showers, technology to identify anthrax and plague, and 1,500-pound boulders to guard against truck bombs vied Thursday for a piece of the growing homeland security market.

Law officers, military officials and federal security workers buzzed around some 300 exhibits at a trade fair catering to the government’s increased security needs since the Sept. 11 attacks.

``The companies here do not see homeland security as simply a challenge, but also as an opportunity,″ Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge said after touring the high-tech displays. ``They can help their shareholders, their consumers and their country at the same time.″

The new technology and products ``will be at the heart of our victory,″ he said.

The White House budget office says the government has spent or committed to spend more than $100 billion in response to the terrorist attacks, including $35 billion specifically for homeland security and $30 billion for the war on terrorism.

Verizon, Hewlett-Packard, Raytheon and Motorola were among the companies showcasing the latest in computer security, biotechnology, hazardous materials detection and telecommunications.

``Innovations are spurring new products, new companies and new jobs,″ crowed Commerce Secretary Donald Evans.

Carba Fire Technologies in Lewis Run, Pa., showed off its All-terrain Command Vehicle, designed for emergency workers responding to disasters.

The 6-wheel vehicle is capable of driving up steep grades and over rubble, mud and rocks. An outboard engine can be attached to convert it into a boat. For $50,000, it’s equipped with a laptop, cell phone, electric winch, brush guard, search light and equipment box.

While most of the products involved sophisticated and costly hardware and software, there were some items that could be put to daily use.

For example, Toby’s Disposable Nose Filters are small plastic canisters inserted into the nostrils to block pollutants. A package of 6 filters costs $7.95.

``I use the filters when I’m gambling in smoky casinos,″ said Toby McCormack, a Merritt Island, Fla.-based inventor.

Also, for $75 to $95 a boulder, Redi-Rock International in Charlevoix, Mich., combines massive rocks and cables to form barriers for homes, monuments and airports. The company also sells rocks for use as planters, benches and fountains.

Among the other products and services on display were:

_A 32-foot-long mobile decontamination unit by Kohler Co. of Wisconsin, which provides emergency workers and victims showers to remove chemical or biological agents. The cost: $140,000.

_Chemical warfare clothing by Tex-Shield, based in Washington, D.C., to filter out deadly agents. A mask, pants, jacket, gloves and boots costs $250.

_The Omega Vac Supreme, designed to vacuum biohazards such as anthrax off of electronics equipment without damaging it. Atrix International, Inc. in Burnsville, Minn., sells them for $187.

_A bacterial identification system by MIDI Inc. in Newark, Del., which consists of a machine and software designed to identify samples of anthrax or plague.

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