Bomb squad respondes to hazardous materials at museum

PINEDALE – The Sublette County Unified Fire Department was dispatched to the Museum of the Mountain Man on Thursday to safely collect and dispose of a small quantity of concentrated nitric acid stored in an antique bottle.

According to a SCUF release, the antique bottle was presumably donated and stored in the museum’s basement. Museum staff discovered the bottle and contacted the fire department to identify and dispose of the hazardous material.

Nitric acid is a colorless liquid acid used in the manufacture of substances including fertilizations, dye, explosives and other chemicals. It can cause severe health hazards, as it is toxic by inhalation and corrosive through skin contact.

Museum staff estimated the bottle appears to have been from the 1870s to 1890s and stored for an unknown amount of time.

Sublette County Unified Fire contacted the Regional Emergency Response Team from Rock Springs, who responded to the incident with Sweetwater Bomb Squad. Technicians from the response team safely removed the bottle of acid from the museum.

“Because the antique container was crystallized and potentially unstable and reactive, the Sweetwater Bomb Squad used a bomb robot to open the container and allow the Hazardous Materials Technicians to test and definitively identify the substance,” a release read.

Specialists determined the safest way to dispose of the acid was to detonate it in the museum parking lot. Technicians successfully detonated the product in a safe manner and collected remains for disposal.