7 August 2018
Inert grenades used as paperweights and gas lighters fashioned to resemble grenades have triggered some of the recent call-outs to the New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF) bomb disposal squad.
Colonel Rian McKinstry, the Special Operations Component Commander, said E Squadron (Explosive Ordnance Disposal or EOD) had responded to call-outs sparked by novelty items that were bought online and sent through the international mail system.
“At first glance, replica grenades look like the real thing so although they are not potentially dangerous, they have caused concern at the mail centre,” Colonel McKinstry said.
Although the call-outs turned out to be false alarms, they underscored the importance of continued vigilance, he said.
“When you are unsure, ring for help and prevent potential harm to yourselves and others. It’s best to be safe rather than sorry.”
A team from E Squadron also responded when a mail centre X-ray machine detected a package addressed to a university student which appeared to contain an improvised explosive device.
“When our bomb disposal team inspected the item they were able to identify it as a prank, but the mail centre staff did the right thing by having it checked,” Colonel McKinstry said.
E Squadron also regularly assists universities and laboratories to dispose of chemical stocks that may have become unstable and liable to explosion.
“Chemicals used in chemistry classes can become dangerous if stored incorrectly. For a number of years now, we have been helping schools and laboratories to dispose of potentially explosive chemicals,” Colonel McKinstry said.
E Squadron responded to 40 call-outs in the second quarter of this year, up 25 per cent from the same period last year. Auckland accounted for 30 per cent of total call-outs, with Wellington and Christchurch contributing 22 per cent.
Number of Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) call-outs:
2nd quarter 2018: 40
2nd quarter 2017: 32
EOD call-outs in three main centres (2nd quarter 2018):