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Medical examiner's office evacuated after explosive acid found

Friday, October 12, 2012
Chicago Tribune

The Cook County medical examiner's office was briefly evacuated after a technician doing inventory found a potentially explosive acid in a storage closet, an official said.

About 60 workers at the office, 2121 W. Harrison St., had to leave the building around 12:40 p.m. Thursday as the Chicago Police Bomb and Arson Unit removed a 14-ounce bottle of potentially explosive picric acid, according to Mary Paleologos, a spokeswoman for the office.

The workers were alllowed by in half an hour later.

 A technician inventorying a storage closet found a 14-ounce bottle of picric acid which had crystallized, according to Paleologos. The acid is used to dye human tissue, but becomes explosive when it crystallizes, so officials called police and the Fire Department.

The acid was widely used as an explosive before World War I, and still is used in some explosive devices for military use.

Medical examiner’s employees at first were sent to a basement conference room as the Fire Department’s hazardous materials team assessed the situation.

When the police bomb squad was called to remove the acid, employees were sent outside. Police removed the bottle from the second-floor closet in about half an hour, Paleologos said.

The inventory was part of a check of chemicals at the medical examiner’s office.



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