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Bomb disposal squads destroy chemicals in UK schools

03 November 2016

A number of schools in England and Wales have reportedly summoned police and military bomb disposal teams to conduct controlled explosions after advice from education science advisory group CLEAPSS on the potential dangers of 2,4-dinitrophenylhydrazine (DNPH), which is used in chemistry lessons. Schools were told that if the chemical dries out it poses an explosion risk.

University of Southampton safety specialist Dr David Kinnison , founder of the University Chemical Safety Forum, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that more controlled explosions at schools were likely in the future.

The Department for Education said the warning was prompted by incidents involving the chemical at a small number of schools. DNPH, used in laboratory tests, is known to pose a risk of explosion by shock, friction or fire and is usually stored inside a larger container holding water.

In England, the affected schools were in Nottingham, the Isle of Wight, Ipswich, Suffolk, Shropshire, Worcestershire and Bolton. The BBC said other establishments in Bristol, Kent and West Sussex were also affected.

In Wales, controlled blasts were also carried out at two Carmarthenshire schools and a college in Llanelli.

Almost 1,500 pupils were evacuated from the Gorseinon campus of Gower College in Swansea before stocks of DNPH were destroyed, and part of Swansea University was also cleared before controlled explosions dealt with stocks of picric acid, which can also become dangerous in certain conditions.

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