Minn. air passenger: Water filtration pipes in bag

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By AMY FORLITI, Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A checked bag containing PVC pipes and several wires prompted authorities to briefly clear out a Minneapolis airport terminal Friday, and its owner told police it was the second time in three years his device had forced an airport evacuation, an official said.

The 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 capped 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.

TSA spokeswoman Carrie Harmon said the agency couldn't comment on an ongoing investigation.

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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Associated Press writer Doug Glass contributed to this report.

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