• United States



by Dave Gradijan

Explosives Scare Shutters Seattle Port Terminal

Aug 17, 20062 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

An explosives scare led authorities to shutter Seattle’s Terminal 18 on Harbor Island for approximately three hours on Wednesday when bomb-sniffing canines identified as potential threats two shipping containers that passed through Pakistan a few days before, The Seattle Times reports.

Both the Port of Seattle Bomb Squad and the Seattle Fire Department’s Hazardous Materials Team were called to the scene, and no traces of explosives or other potentially dangerous materials were identified, according to the Times.

U.S. Customs agents were still analyzing the flagged containers on Wednesday night, Mike Milne, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman, told the Times, and the containers held clothing, bedding and other textiles.

The flagged containers were originally among 72 shipped to Seattle on the MV Rotterdam that were pulled aside for additional examination under a risk-assessment matrix applied to all ships that sail into the port with containers, according to the Times.

The two suspect containers underwent scanning by a gamma-imaging device—a machine that’s similar in function to an X-ray machine—and items that didn’t appear to be on their packing lists were thought to be within, the Times reports.

Milne told the Times the scanning machines could have mistaken air pockets within the containers for unaccounted-for items.

After the containers were flagged, port officials shut down the terminal and set up a 500-yard safety perimeter around the actual terminal and a 300-yard security zone along the waterfront, a Coast Guard official told the Times.

Sections of the Duwamish River were also closed to shipping traffic, according to the Times.

Approximately 70 dock workers were evacuated following the incident as well as handfuls of truck drivers, the Times reports.

Milne said the bomb-sniffing dogs could have smelled some form of explosive, like fireworks residue, that was left over from past shipments, or that was passed on from workers who had handled explosives, according to the Times.

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