Possible pipe bomb from '90s closes Port Townsend community complex

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PORT TOWNSEND, Wash. —

A community campus housing the police department and other organizations was closed after a pipe bomb-like device from the 1990s was brought to Port Townsend police Friday.

Police said a Port Townsend School District employee brought the device to the police department at 10:45 a.m. Friday after it was found by someone performing maintenance at Blue Heron Middle School.

The device had apparently been brought to the school in the 1990s by a student and given to a science teacher.  It’s not known why the teacher at that time didn’t turn over the device to police or believe it to be suspicious.

 Police said because the possibly volatile device sat dormant for a number of years, there was a strong risk of setting it off by moving it.

The Port Townsend Police Department and other organizations based at the Mountain View complex were evacuated and streets in the area closed.

The complex includes the city swimming pool and is the temporary location for the city library. Community service organizations such as the YMCA, Red Cross, food bank and KPTZ-FM radio also are housed at the complex, which until 2009 served as an elementary school.

An additional hazard at the complex was science-related chemicals in a school district vehicle.   Police said a maintenance employee was going to take the chemicals, including mercury and acids, to be destroyed, and the chemicals could explode and spread into the air if not disposed of properly.

At 12:45 p.m., the Washington State Patrol bomb squad began examining the device, which was metal, about 18 inches long and capped at both ends, with no wires visible.

The bomb squad then removed the device from the area of the hazardous chemicals.  An X-ray showed it contained a powdery substance.

By 1:20 p.m., the bomb squad had detonated and destroyed the device.

 Mountain View and the surrounding area remain closed until a plan is made to safely get rid of the hazardous science chemicals.