Controlled explosions at schools as chemical is disposed of

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Two Armagh schools have become the latest in the area to call in the PSNI to deal with a potentially dangerous chemical.

A controlled explosion was carried out at St Catherine’s College yesterday (Wednesday) and the substance was also disposed of today (Thursday) at The Royal School.

Similar action was taken at St Ronan’s College in Lurgan on Tuesday.

Another school, Lurgan College, was given the all-clear on its stock of the chemical.

The precautionary action has been taken after schools through the UK were contacted and asked to check their chemical labs for the powdered substance (Dinitrophenyl hydrazine).

It has recently been reclassified as explosive when dry.

The move reportedly follows a number of explosions at schools in England recently where the substance had been stored in chemistry labs.

Chief Inspector Natalie Wilson said, “In October 2016, educational establishments throughout the UK were advised by the Consortium of Local Education Authorities Providing Science Services (CLEAPSS), that a powdered substance, 2,4 DNP (Dinitrophenyl hydrazine), which is occasionally used by students in chemical experiments may present a risk if stored incorrectly.

“Communication was issued to schools requesting that they check their laboratories for the substance 2,4DNP and that they review its storage conditions accordingly.

““The PSNI has been liaising with a number of schools across Northern Ireland in relation to this powdered substance and where necessary arranging for safe disposal of the substance.”

Trevor Robinson, principal of Lurgan College, said no action was required at the school as the powder container had been recently opened. “It has to be dried out to be dangerous and ours isn’t.

“We have been told by CLEAPSS that it is properly stored and to continue using our stock.”