Local News

Explosives spill cleared; Morehead City port reopens

Posted January 14, 2010

— Hazardous materials crews finished cleaning up a spill of explosive materials at the state port in Morehead City Thursday afternoon, allowing the port to reopen.

Nine 50-kilogram drums filled with the explosive PETN were punctured by a forklift early Tuesday as they were being unloaded at the port. Officials said Wednesday that they had found PETN leaking from drums in shipping containers not involved in Tuesday's accident.

Also known as pentaerythritol tetranitrate, colorless PETN crystals are the primary ingredient in detonating cords used for industrial explosions. The compound also is used in military devices and blasting caps, as well as in heart medications.

PETN was used in an attempted Christmas Day bombing of a Detroit-bound Northwest Airlines flight, and it was used by Richard Reid, the notorious "shoe bomber," who tried to blow up a jet in 2001.

The PETN was shipped to Morehead City from Spain, and a private contractor brought it into the port, according to Lt. Robert Jones of the State Ports Authority Police.

The Coast Guard oversaw the cleanup and the investigation into the spill, and officials announced after 5 p.m. Thursday that the port had been reopened.

During the almost-three-day closure, the State Ports Authority worked with customers to meet their needs by moving cargo from the port to customer facilities and allowing ships to dock.

The state port handled 1.9 million tons of cargo in the fiscal year that ended last June, including 118 shiploads and 415 barges.


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  • urbizn Jan 15, 2010

    ""June" doesn't care if the port never opens up. It's no skin off her rear cause SAM is paying her. -itls"

    I am certain that Capt. Ryan was under great pressure from the commercial folks to reopen the port. However, she was most likely under direction from higher USCG and DHS authority not to reopen it for whatever reason (including investigation by various intelligence agencies).

    What would you say if she had reopened the port prematurely, and a PETN explosion took out a ship loaded with other hazardous cargo?

    BRAVO ZULU to Capt. Ryan and the rest of her team at USCG Sector NC!

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Jan 14, 2010

    "Could have just been a new fork-lift operator that wasn't as safety conscious as he should have been. - OldRebel"

    Doubt it was a negligent fork truck operator. To hit 9 barrels and puncture them you would have had to backup and go forward several times. This takes too much effort to be the actions of a negligent fork truck driver.

    There was also other damaged containers of PETN in other parts of the port.

    This sounds more and more like a terrorist attack each time the media reports on it.

  • oldrebel Jan 14, 2010

    Could have just ben a new fork-lift operator that wasn't as safety conscious as he should have been.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Jan 14, 2010

    I'm waiting for them to tell us it was a failed terrorist act by Al-Qaeda.

  • batricia1 Jan 14, 2010

    I would say since the main user of that port is cherry point and Camp legune That it was headed to a military supplier to make cord out of it. I see a easy way to dredge that harbor lol

  • WHEEL Jan 14, 2010

    "June" doesn't care if the port never opens up. It's no skin off her rear cause SAM is paying her.

  • cbarnett Jan 14, 2010

    And why isn't it being investigated as terrorism if the first incident isn't/wasn't connected to the next?

  • maggieknowlya Jan 14, 2010

    "The Coast Guard is overseeing the cleanup and the investigation into the spill,"

    Finally, at least a slight hint that there is an investigation of some sort about these separate incidents.

  • bluegrass Jan 14, 2010

    Ok so this stuff is terrible. Just who is getting it? And why so much.

  • oldrebel Jan 14, 2010

    The story says nine 50 kilogram containers of PETN were involved. Doesn't sounds too bad until you see the devestating power of this explosive.

    For a tiny example check this blast from only 8 grams...then think of what 450 kilograms could possibly do.