Los Alamos Bomb Squad Removes Explosive Substance In Antique Medicine Bottle From White Rock Business

The Los Alamos Bomb Squad responds to the call of a potentially dangerous substance inside a glass medicine bottle Wednesday at Seeking Chameleon at 13 Sherwood Blvd. in White Rock. Courtesy photo

Cmdr. Oliver Morris is helped into safety gear Wednesday in front of Seeking Chameleon on Sherwood Boulevard in White Rock. Courtesy photo

Staff Report

Catherine Richmond called the Los Alamos Bomb Squad Wednesday after a customer alerted her to a dangerous item inside her business “Seeking Chameleon” in White Rock.

Richmond told the Los Alamos Daily Post how a glass medicine bottle containing an explosive substance landed inside her antiques and treasure shop on Sherwood Boulevard.

“Several days ago I purchased a beautiful and interesting assortment of antique medical and science equipment from a lovely gentleman in town,” Richmond said. “I was thrilled to find such high quality items for the shop. One of those items was an antique glass medicine bottle containing a crystallized yellow substance and a label reading ‘Acid Picric’”.

Richmond explained that she and the seller joked a bit about not having the bottle too close to her coffee cup as neither of them knew anything about a substance called picric acid. 

“I set up my display and yesterday late in the afternoon, I asked one of my regular customers if he happened to know anything about chemistry and my thoroughly dried out crystals of yellow picric acid … he literally balked and backed out the door! ‘You need to call the police, notify the bomb squad and get out of the building immediately’ were his parting words,” Richmond said. “I followed his advice, and sure enough, I had a highly explosive antique bottle of chemical on my hands.”

Picric acid is the chemical compound formally called 2,4,6-trinitrophenol (TNP). This yellow crystalline solid is one of the most acidic phenols and is vinylogous to nitric acid. Like other highly nitrated compounds such as TNT, picric acid is an explosive – source: wikipedia.

The bomb squad safely removed the bottle containing the substance and eliminated the threat, Richmond said, adding that it made for some excitement, “albeit somewhat unwanted,” on an otherwise typical afternoon.

The Los Alamos Bomb Squad removes a glass medicine bottle containing an explosive substance Wednesday at Seeking Chameleon at 13 Sherwood Blvd. in White Rock. Courtesy photo