Saturday, September 29, 2001

FBI looks at truck students

Ky. school says two sought hazmat licenses

The Associated Press

        PADUCAH, Ky. — FBI officials are investigating two former students of a truck driving school in western Kentucky, the school said.

        The FBI and other agencies have begun to scrutinize 2.5 million licenses to carry hazardous material. The licenses, contained in a central federal database, are being scrutinized for unusual names and recent hires, and to see if some might have been obtained improperly.

        “You never know what you're going to find,” David Longo, a spokesman for the Transportation Department's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, has said.

        Professional Truck Driving School is a two-week program for people 21 or older to obtain a commercial driver's license. A school roster and student records have been requested by the FBI for two former students of the program, said Marcia Harris, a co-owner of the school.

        Local FBI officials would not comment on the investigation.

        One of the Paducah students, who had a Missouri driver's license when he enrolled, completed the program in the spring and the other dropped out of the program after three days, Ms. Harris said.

        She would not identify the students or give their ages.

        “All I can say is that they were a different nationality; they were not U.S. citizens,” she said.

        Ms. Harris said she did not know why FBI officials had targeted the two students.

        However, at the core of the investigation is whether these students have valid hazardous material licenses, Ms. Harris said. Since the attacks in Washington and New York, officials have tightened security at weigh stations for trucks that haul hazardous cargo. Federal officials fear the trucks may be a target for terrorists.

        “Hazardous material can be anywhere from hauling cans of hair spray to fuel so most truck companies require their drivers to have the licenses,” Ms. Harris said. “We do train them and provide study materials for them.”

        Students must pass a test to receive a hazardous materials license in the state they choose to work.

        One student who completed the CDL program in Paducah stood out to faculty members because of his interest in hazardous materials.

        “One of the instructors here remembers this particular student because he was very interested in hazmat endorsements,” Ms. Harris said. “But once he left our facility, we had no further contact with him.”

        Ms. Harris said FBI officials were to pick up the school records on Friday.

        “We're cooperating here in the fullest,” Ms. Harris said.


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