According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), background checks on 2.7-million truck drivers licensed to haul hazardous materials have turned up 29 drivers with possible connections to terrorists.

The name-based background check is the first wave of an intensive campaign to weed out potential terrorists as TSA readies States nationwide to begin mandatory fingerprint ID checks of licensed haz-mat drivers on January 31, 2005.

Andrea Fuentes, spokeswoman for TSA, told Fleet Owner that one of the 29 drivers had previously been deported from the United States, while some other names listed may be the same person as a result of faulty data.

The database of haz-mat drivers was cross-referenced with the databases of law-enforcement agencies to flag individuals with possible connections with terrorist organizations. No clear connections have been determined yet and the drivers are still under investigation, Fuentes said.

The name-based background check was completed as required by the Safe Explosives Act and Patriot Act.