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Water filtration pipes cause evacuation of Minneapolis terminal

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 7:10 a.m. HST, Apr 27, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS >> A suspicious bag that prompted a brief evacuation of a Minneapolis airport terminal on Friday had two capped PVC pipes and several wires inside that the owner said were for water filtration. The man told authorities it was the second time in three years his device had forced an airport evacuation.

Friday's evacuation came after screeners at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport's Humphrey terminal spotted the items in a bag about 5:30 a.m. Humphrey, which handles less than 10 percent of the airport's passenger volume, was cleared of several hundred people and inbound auto traffic was stopped.

A bomb squad was called to search the bag. Airport spokesman Patrick Hogan said the pipes contained a granular material, but nothing in it was explosive and the wires turned out to be unrelated to the device.

The man was questioned by police before being released about 8:45 a.m., Hogan said. No criminal charges were planned.

"We don't have any reason not to believe it was a water filtration device," he said.

But Hogan said the Transportation Security Administration could consider civil charges because of the disruption. Hogan said the man told police he had "a similar incident" in carrying the device through an airport in Long Beach, Calif., in April 2009.

In that incident, a few hundred people were evacuated briefly after screeners discovered what appeared to be a pipe bomb in a bag. It was later determined to be an unlabeled water filter.

A spokeswoman for the TSA didn't immediately respond to phone and email messages.

The terminal that was evacuated, named for former Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, is the smaller of the two terminals at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, serving AirTran, Icelandair, Southwest and Spirit airlines.

More than 90 percent of the airport's traffic passes through the nearby Lindbergh terminal.

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