Behind-the-scenes: Scripting destruction of the infamous Escondido, Calif., “bomb house”

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A press conference on this topic will be held at Noon Eastern Time, March 26, 2012, in the ACS Press Center, Room 15A, in the San Diego Convention Center. Reporters can attend in person or access live audio and video of the event and ask questions at www.ustream.tv/channel/acslive.

SAN DIEGO, March 26, 2012 — Scientists, public safety and law enforcement officials will hold a special session here on Monday, March 26, to reveal the behind-the-scenes planning that culminated in the December 9, 2010, burning of the infamous “bomb house” in Escondido, Calif. The session, titled “How to ‘safely’ burn down a house,” is part of the 243rd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world’s largest scientific society. The presentation is among more than 11,700 that will be delivered at the meeting, being held here through Thursday.

On November 18, 2010, authorities found a record stash of grenades, detonators and explosives of the kind often used in terrorist attacks in the suburban home after a gardener was injured by an explosive device in the yard.

Neal Langerman, Ph.D., founder of the health, safety and environmental protection consulting firm Advanced Chemical Safety, Inc., organized a round-table discussion to show how the destruction of the house used the skills and expertise that scientists, public safety and law enforcement professionals have developed since 2001. After authorities determined that the explosives in the house were too unstable to remove, they planned a controlled burn that ultimately destroyed the house in about 30 minutes. The session will feature five experts closely involved in planning and conducting the house’s destruction and communicating with the public. They will describe the chemistry and instruments used to investigate the scene and monitor the burn.

The members of the round-table discussion will include:

  • Nick Vent, Supervising Environmental Health Specialist with the San Diego County Environmental Health Department’s Hazardous Materials Division
  • John Johnson, Director of Safety and Security at Thermo Fisher Scientific
  • Lieutenant Mike McClain, San Diego County Sheriff’s Department
  • Chris Nichols, County Government Reporter at the North County Times of Escondido, Calif.
  • Chief Todd Newman, San Marcos Fire Department

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