Castalia police disarm 'bombs'

As many as four juveniles could face arrest after a bomb scare at the Cold Creek Festival late Saturday was thwarted by police.
Jul 23, 2013

"An officer was making rounds and noticed something suspicious near the AT&T building," Castalia police Chief Ken Majoy said. 

The suspicious items turned out to be two "bombs, for lack of a better word," he said.

"We had  to shut down Depot Street and we contacted the Lorain County Bomb Squad." 

The two devices were 2-litre coke bottles with common household chemicals and wadded balls of aluminum foil added. Once the items are placed together in the bottles and capped, the chemical reaction causes them to expand and explode.

"It can make a very loud sound, like an M-80 firecracker, but we were more concerned with where they had placed them."

The devices were near a gas meter and the phone company building and police and firefighters used thermal imaging gear to determine the chemicals and the aluminum had been mixed, Majoy said, "which meant it was active."

The gas line was turned off, and after confirming with the bomb squad the method to disarm the bombs, officers used a pellet gun to shoot each bottle four times, disengaging the bombs. The state Bureau of Criminal Investigation was called and assisted in processing the scene. 

Police appear to have been able to track the materials that were used — a toilet bowl cleaner, plastic coke bottles and aluminum foil — back to a local market and reviewed surveillance video from the store to identify suspects. . 

Majoy said the juveniles might have thought it was a prank but didn't realize the potential danger.

"We had to take every precaution and treat it as if it may have been a terrorist attack," the chief said.

It will be up to the prosecutor what charges might be filed, Majoy said.


Tru Grit

If they go to juvenile prison I might see them. Dumb kids anyone knows this was a terrible idea. Your common works bomb can cause some serious damage.

UNregisturd's picture

I worked in plastics long enough to have a scar on my back from a sheet of plastic ripping across my back. It was caught in a grinder & I turned my back just as it unjammed & pulled the sheet in at a speed about equal to a car doing about 35 mph. Now that's not much for a car, but believe me, for a sheet of plastic across ur back it might as well be mach 6! So dab a little toilet bowl cleaner on that plastic, force it into ur skin (u can ask someone to help; I'll bet there'll be volunteers) & see if that could hurt someone. Then get back to us! Happy experimenting! :D

Señor Clown

Points to think about: No, you don't want to get household cleaning agents on your skin, and especially not in your mouth, nose, or eyes. Toilet bowl cleaner is diluted acid, and while much of the acid is consumed by the reaction, it's still a hazard. No, the 'explosion' wouldn't pose any risk to iron gas lines. It's a matter of gas pressure building until the bottle ruptures. Any debris that is thrown from the rupturing bottle will have a relatively low kinetic energy that will diminish rapidly as it travels through the air. Suffice to say, the reaction didn't even produce enough gas to rupture the bottles, or they would have popped long before someone noticed them, brought in the bomb squad, and sourced a pellet gun to pop them. To get a handle on the actual chemistry involved, as well as a stern warning about the legalities of intentionally rupturing a pressurized vessel in this manner, google ChemistryTwig Works Bomb.

Was this smart? Absolutely not. Was it Boston-bomber dangerous? Absolutely not. Terrible venue for science experiments, and dumb enough to show up at the store and buy the three ingredients necessary to potentially incriminate yourself for your poor judgment. Seems a fitting punishment would be a research paper on *why* mixing household products in manners inconsistent with their intended use can be dangerous, to include detailed formulation of the chemical reactions.