Bomb squad at Ballycastle school amid chemical explosion risk

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A bomb disposal squad is understood to be visiting a school in the Ballycastle area today (Wednesday November 11) amid fears that a powdered substance used in chemical experiments could explode.

Dinitrophenyl hydrazine, known as 2,4 DNP, is used in A-Level chemistry classes but can pose a risk of explosion if stored incorrectly and left to dry out.

However, with the chemical posing a risk of explosion if it is exposed to air in its dried-out state, schools which suspect that they may have a problem are being forced to call in the bomb disposal squad for safety reasons.

Yesterday, the bomb squad carried out a controlled explosion in another incident at St Ronan’s College in Lurgan to deal with the potentially explosive chemical.

PSNI Chief Inspector Natalie Wilson said: “In October 2016, educational establishments throughout the UK were advised by the Consortium of Local Education Authorities providing Science Services (CLEAPSS)., that a powdered substance, 2,4 DNP (Dinitrophenyl hydrazine), which is occasionally used by students in chemical experiments may present a risk if stored incorrectly.

“Communication was issued to schools requesting that they check their laboratories for the substance 2,4DNP and that they review its storage conditions accordingly.

“The PSNI has been liaising with a number of schools across Northern Ireland in relation to this powdered substance and where necessary arranging for safe disposal of the substance.”

An Education Authority (EA) spokesperson said: “Schools and other educational establishments throughout the UK recently received advice from the Consortium of Local Education Authorities providing Science Services (CLEAPSS) that a powdered substance, known as 2,4 DNP (Dinitrophenyl hydrazine), may present a risk if stored incorrectly. This substance may occasionally be used by students in chemical experiments.

“The Education Authority has been working closely with schools and other relevant authorities including the PSNI in relation to this advice. Schools have been requested to check their laboratories for the substance 2,4 DNP and review its storage conditions accordingly. Where necessary, arrangements are being made for safe disposal of this substance.

“Initial indications are that only a relatively small number of schools will require this assistance.”