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December 26, 2005

Something To Be Both Alarmed And Enraged About

There is no excuse for this.

According to federal officials, the theft of 400 pounds of high-powered plastic explosives in New Mexico is one of the largest high explosives heists in recent history.

The material was taken from Cherry Engineering, a company owned by Chris Cherry, a scientist at Sandia National Labs. The site, located outside Albuquerque, had no guards and no surveillance cameras. It was the site's second theft in the past two years.

No guards, no surveillance cameras.

Second theft in the past two years.

"We don't have any suspect," said Wayne Dixie of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. "We don't have any leads at this point."

The stolen goods include 150 pounds of C-4 plastic explosive and 250 pounds of thin sheets of explosives that could be used in letter bombs. Also, 2,500 detonators were missing from a storage explosive container, or magazine, in a bunker owned by Cherry Engineering.

"Believe me, this can cause a catastrophic explosion of unbelievable proportions in the right configuration," said Jack Cloonan, an ABC News consultant and former FBI agent. "So it's very dangerous. We have to find this stuff and find it now."

What's wrong with this picture, aside from the fact that persons unknown, possibly terrorists, have made off with enough highly versatile(that's right, because you can shape C-4 to meet the requirements of a given explosion), powerful explosives to bring down buildings and kill a lot of people?

Not only was this dumbfuck, Chris Cherry, inexcusably negligent by not properly securing the site, but just as irresponsible were whichever state or federal agencies that licensed him to store such quantities of explosives without first ascertaining that necessary security was in place. Especially given the fact that the site had been hit before.

Now, I'm the last person to endorse government micromanagement of private sector concerns, but that sentiment ends when materials or activities of a company are potentially dangerous to large numbers of people and property that have nothing to do with them.

Nuclear power plants, oil refineries, places where all manner of hazardous materials are stored in quantity and sites where explosives are stored should be held to high safety and security standards -- I don't mean that the agencies concerned should take the respective firms' word for anything, I mean that they need to send people onsite to ascertain that all standards, and I mean strict standards, are met to the letter. All too often, bean counters are permitted to gamble with the lives of hundreds or even thousands of innocent people. If companies don't want to comply because the expenses entailed cut into their profits, let them relocate their hazardous sites to remote, unpopulated areas.

As far as this bonehead Cherry is concerned, he should be barred forever from possessing so much as a firecracker.

Posted by Seth at December 26, 2005 04:36 AM