A team of the Army Bomb Disposal squad were yesterday (Wednesday) evening called to St Patrick's College, Cavan Town to make safe a quantity of lab chemical which was suspected of having become "unstable".
A team of the Army Bomb Disposal squad were yesterday (Wednesday) evening called to a Cavan Town school to make safe a quantity of lab chemical which was suspected of having become "unstable".
The bomb disposal team, attached to the Defence Forces in Custume Barracks, Athlone arrived to St. Patrick's College at about 6.45pm after a call from Gardai. They removed the lab chemical, known as 2,4-Dinitrophenylhydrazine (DNPH, Brady's reagent) to a safe location before carrying out a controlled explosion - and the area was declared safe shortly before 8pm.
Sensitive to both shock and friction, DNPH is used in organic matter lab testing but is a shock explosive so care must be taken with its use. A red to orange solid, it is usually supplied wet to reduce its explosive hazard. It is, despite its volatile nature routinely used in laboratories around the country that can become unstable over time.
With the new St Patrick's College officially opening at the start of this month, staff at the school had been transporting much of the lab equipment from the now vacant old school building when the discovery of the unstable chemical was made.
St Patrick's College principal, Dr Liam McNiffe, explained to The Anglo-Celt that his lab staff, since the new school had opened, had been working to a Departmental list of sensitive or potentially hazardous chemicals to arrange their removal.
"DNPH is just one of a long list - we had been removing others as well. We've had a private company come in at our own cost to do that work for us, but with this particular chemical we thought it best to contact the local superintendent and it was on his recommendation that the Army Bomb Disposal squad be called. There was no immediate crisis with the chemical, but safety of our students and our school is paramount."
Dr McNiffe said the the lab where the chemical DNPH was contained was sealed off until the bomb unit arrived. No students or staff were at the school at the time and no one was injured. It is reported that locals living in the area heard the controlled explosion when it was detonated.
"I would just like to thank, on behalf of the school, the local garda superintendent and the Gardai, and of course the Bomb Disposal Squad Unit in Athlone for their efficiency in dealing with this matter."
The Irish Defence Forces tweeted on their Twitter account on Thursday morning, "Army Bomb Disposal Team make safe a quantity of the unstable chemical #dinitrophenylhydrazine found in a Cavan school lab yesterday eve."