Last month, the Transportation Security Administration ended its contract with the airport scanner maker Rapiscan, pledging to remove the company's controversial backscatter x-ray machines from the country's airports.
This may have been good news for plane passengers concerned with the scanners' health effects, and good news as well for passengers who didn't relish the idea of cartoonish-but-nonetheless-naked images of themselves being generated in the name of safety. It was significantly less good news, however, for the TSA, which now finds itself in the awkward position of having hundreds of machines, but no airport to put them in. (The agency has removed 76 machines from airports so far, and has plans to remove the remaining 174 by June 1 of this year.)
Here's the other problem: Those machines, as you might suspect, aren't cheap. Each one is worth about $160,000, meaning that the displaced devices have come at a total price of $40 million. It would be great, from the TSA's perspective, to find a way to make the machines useful again—to find them a permanent, and ideally non-controversial, home.