Joe Terrell, the Transportation Security Administration's federal security director at the airport, confirmed that water backed up from the drain of O'Brien's Grille & Pub's kitchen, spilling over the entrance at the international checkpoint on the airside terminal. That's where some international passengers disembark from their planes and baggage from Air Canada bound for domestic flights comes for inspection.
A TSA worker had to slosh through the smelly water to inspect the bags, Terrell said.
Workers for the airport authority cleaned the site and convinced Terrell the water did not contain human waste.
"It's nasty, there's no doubt about that," he said. "But they showed me the schematics. There's no possibility it was sewage."
Terrell and Jenny said the authority has responded satisfactorily to both this incident and to a series of foul-water backups in a former TSA employee breakroom last winter. Material that workers say was sewage backed up in a former restroom on the secure side of the checkpoint.
The room was shuttered, and a temporary breakroom was established one floor up, near the alternate checkpoint.
While worker complaints about the airport's water system have surfaced before, some are now raising concerns about the air quality surround the security checkpoint.
Kimberly Kraynak, speaking as a member of the American Federation of Government Employees, authored a letter to the airport authority in late July asking for an evaluation of the atmosphere in the low-ceilinged passenger checkpoint area.
Kraynak, a Coraopolis native who has worked for the TSA for six years, described the spaces as dirty, dusty and poorly ventilated. She said numerous colleagues complain of respiratory ailments.
Jenny said the county Health Department tested the air soon after the authority received the letter and found it to be in accordance with applicable standards. Kraynak said she has yet to hear from the authority.
"We love working here," she said. "But we want to make it a better workplace. We believe the air quality is poor."
Terrell conceded that the checkpoint setting is less than ideal, but he believes the air is safe.
"The problem with the checkpoint area is it's in a tube: There's no room below or above," he said. "I've heard of folks having respiratory issues, but we haven't seen any evidence of it.
"In a lot of respects, we defer to the entity that regulates the building," Terrell said. "But if we had any indication there was an issue with the air or the water, absolutely we would act on it."