37°
UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Picric Acid Found and Safely Detonated at Junk Drop-off

On Oct. 3 the Boston bomb squad safely detonated a chemical vial in Parking Lot D, after it was identified as the volatile picric acid during a hazardous waste drop-off event that the University of Massachusetts Boston hosts for the city.
An individual dropped off the picric acid with a couple other vials they found in their basement, materials previously owned by their father, who had been a doctor. Someone from UMass Boston’s Office of Environmental Health and Safety noticed the chemicals and was concerned about them being handled safely, so they alerted a Green Harbors chemist to investigate, says UMass Boston Director of Communications DeWayne Lehman.  
One chemical was identified as the extremely volatile picric acid, which is so unstable that even taking off the lid could spark a reaction. Someone immediately called 911, and the bomb squad, Fire Department, and ambulances were dispatched to the university. 
The bomb squad decided they should dispose of the chemical with a controlled explosion inside an empty dumpster. Boston Fire Department personnel supervised and carried out the detonation.
Students may remember receiving two messages from the campus emergency alert system the afternoon of Oct. 3, informing community members of a chemical release. A second update clarified there was no release, and that no one was injured in the time it took for the threat to be removed. 
The City of Boston holds numerous drop-off locations for hazardous materials in different parts of the city throughout the year. Accepted items range from aerosol cans, to weed killer, to antifreeze. UMass Boston has hosted two of these events per year for the past two decades. This is the first time an incident like this has occurred.
“UMass Boston believes it’s important to serve the city and support efforts such as responsible disposal of hazardous materials and other green efforts. This is just one way and example of how we work with the city whenever we can,” says Lehman.