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Hundreds of Security Badges Have Gone Missing From America's Busiest Airport

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"It's very, very serious."

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 27: A TSA agent watches an xray monitor while screening luggage at a special TSA Pre-check lane at Terminal C of the LaGuardia Airport on January 27, 2014 in New York City. Once approved for the program, travelers can use special expidited Precheck security lanes. They can also leave on their shoes, light outerwear and belt, as well as keep their laptop and small containers of liquids inside carry-on luggage during security screening. The TSA plans to open more than 300 application centers across the country. John Moore/Getty Images

More than 1,400 airport security badges have gone missing from the nation's busiest airport over the past two years, according to an investigation by KXAS-TV, but a Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport representative said they don't pose any serious security risk.

"Badges are deactivated as soon as they are reported lost or stolen. Secured areas of the airport can only be accessed with a valid badge and PIN, and each badge has a photo of the employee on it," said Reese McCranie, the Atlanta airport's director of communications. "Due to these safeguards, we do not believe that lost or stolen badges pose a significant security threat to the airport."

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 27: A TSA agent watches an xray monitor while screening luggage at a special TSA Pre-check lane at Terminal C of the LaGuardia Airport on January 27, 2014 in New York City. Once approved for the program, travelers can use special expidited Precheck security lanes. They can also leave on their shoes, light outerwear and belt, as well as keep their laptop and small containers of liquids inside carry-on luggage during security screening. The TSA plans to open more than 300 application centers across the country. John Moore/Getty Images John Moore/Getty Images

Secure Identification Display Area badges are assigned to airport employees around the country and allow access to baggage loading areas, taxiways, runways and boarding gates. Employees must pass a TSA background check and any respective local security requirements to obtain access to those areas, though airports decide which areas each badge holder can access once the entire application and screening process has been completed.

According to KXAS, the missing 1,400 badges or so represent just a small fraction of the approximately 60,000 employees at Hartsfield-Jackson.

Larry Wansley, a former security official for American Airlines, told KXAS that if someone were to be in possession of a missing badge, they wouldn't necessarily be able to roam the airport unimpeded with the biometrics, passwords and PINs sometimes required to access secure areas.

"Just because one aspect of it has been compromised, if you will, there are a whole lot of other backups that come into play,” Wansley said.

But, he said, there are certainly security threats to consider if a badge were to fall into the wrong hands.

"Without question," he said. "It's very, very serious...[terrorists would] be interested in compromising this situation."

KXAS sought the numbers of missing security badges from other airports, but said the Transportation Security Administration declined to provide it.

The TSA declined to comment to TheBlaze about the report.

(H/T: KXAS-TV)

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