ORONO (AP) – Maine-based Army and Air National Guard soldiers are being trained for anti-terrorism duty at this summer’s Democratic National Convention in Boston.

The team on Tuesday was on Ayers Island in the Penobscot River, where members wore protective suits to inspect canisters and oil drums with special equipment in response to a mock chemical attack in an abandoned paper and textile mill.

The Waterville-based unit is holding regular training exercises this week to test response procedures and equipment. Further training is planned at places such as the Bangor Civic Center and the Charleston Correctional Facility.

The anti-terror squad could be deployed during the Democratic National Convention at Boston’s FleetCenter, which is expected to draw more than 35,000 people for events that begin July 26. The troops will be standing by in case local authorities suspect a chemical or biological attack.

“We’ve got to make sure we can provide a sense of security to the citizens of Boston,” Lt. Col. James Campbell said as the 11th Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support team trained Tuesday.

The Maine-based team has little experience working in an urban environment like Boston, or a large arena like the 19,600-seat FleetCenter. If an attack were to occur, the team would coordinate with the First Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team based in Natick, Mass., Campbell said.

The Maine unit is one of just 30 like it in the country and one of two, along with the Natick unit, specifically trained to deal with weapons of mass destruction in New England.

The teams are trained to support local police and fire fighters on the scene.

The Democratic and Republican conventions are both classified as “national special security events” by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Republicans convene beginning Aug. 30 in New York.

AP-ES-05-05-04 1003EDT

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