A well-meaning area resident brought a jar of explosive acid to Whatcom County’s toxics disposal site Saturday afternoon, but the material was safely removed and no injuries were reported, officials said.
“The situation had no ill intent, just the result of some folks cleaning out the garage of a deceased family member,” said Bellingham Police Lt. Danette Beckley.
Beckley said the person brought a “small jar” containing dried picric acid about 1 p.m. to the Whatcom County Disposal of Toxics Facility, 3505 Airport Drive.
Picric acid is highly unstable in dried form, said Assistant Chief Bill Hewett of the Bellingham Fire Department. Hewett said firefighters confirmed the material was in its approved container – about the size of a pop can – and it was labeled properly.
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“Picric acid normally is stored in a liquid solution,” Hewett said. “When it’s stored properly, everything is fine. But the liquid had dried into crystals. Then it becomes dangerous.”
Hewett said the county’s multi-agency hazardous materials team, which includes specially trained firefighters and the police bomb squad, responded to the scene.
He said it was the second time in about a year that someone brought dried picric acid to the disposal site.
A bomb robot was used to remove the container so it could be disposed of safely, Beckley said.
She said the Disposal of Toxics Facility was closed for about two-and-a-half hours during the incident.