WASHINGTON, D.C. – A Loudoun County school bus hauled special needs students to and from school for days – about 145 miles – before officials realized the CIA left explosives in the engine compartment.
The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office and the CIA both confirmed in statements yesterday that the federal agency left the explosive “putty-type” of material in the engine compartment of the bus during a local K-9 training over spring break, The Washington Post reports.
The CIA contends the explosives “did not pose a danger to passengers on the bus,” according to a statement issued Thursday.
Those passengers included 26 special needs students who were transported a total of 145 miles to and from Rock Ridge High School, Buffalo Trail Elementary, and Pinebrook Elementary on Monday and Tuesday of this week.
“During the exercise, explosive training material was inadvertently left by the CIA K-9 unit in one of the buses used in the exercise,” the CIA statement read, according to NBC Washington.
Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman told the news site “a piece of that training material fell out and remained within the bus, and it was discovered later when the bus was taken in for a mechanical checkup.”
The package was apparently black, and fell down into the engine compartment and entangled in the black engine hoses, making it difficult for the bus driver to see the explosives during pre-drive checks, said school spokesman Wayde Byard, who insisted the explosives were safe in the engine compartment.
“When it is in a benign state, which means it has no blasting cap or electronic triggering devices on it, it is a safe substance,” he said federal officials told him.
“So it’s not something that if you picked it up off the street you could blow up,” Byard told WTOP.
The CIA statement also states that “explosives experts have confirmed that the training material did not pose a danger to passengers on the bus.”
Regardless, locals seem quite concerned with the federal government’s forgetfulness.
“It’s so frightening,” Loudoun County resident Sara Marsh. “It’s just very, very scary.”
“There should have been a checklist,” Donna Caulfield said. “The federal employees that were involved in that drill should be disciplined.”
Others online also sounded off about the mistake.
“This makes me wonder if they miss these things on a mission,” Carter Fox Jr. posted to Facebook.
“What I find unusual and highly suspect is the fact that neither the CIA, ATF or local news stations have yet identified the specific material that was used in this ‘training bomb’ device. It has been termed ‘inert’ and ‘harmless’ but why is there a cover-up regarding the name of the compound that was present?” Mark Swartz wrote.
“Hiding this information will only lead to speculation that people in these government agencies are purposely trying to downplay the seriousness of this training mistake.”