A device labeled as a "military bomb" was found on a decommissioned U.S. military silo in Gaithersburg, Maryland, this week, federal officials tell the News4 I-Team.
The item was discovered at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) along Muddy Branch Road. It was tested by U.S. Army investigators at Ft. Belvoir and contained no explosive materials, officials said
In an email sent to staff Friday, NIST officials said agency managers were conducting a walk-through at the site of the missile silo when they discovered the device.
"The walk-through was a safety evaluation in contemplation of the eventual transfer of ownership of the parcel. During that walk-through, the experts discovered a device labeled as a military bomb that appeared to be a non-functional practice device," the email read.
The agency said it turned over the suspicious device to the U.S. Army at Ft. Belvoir Thursday for an inspection. NIST officials said the device contained no explosive materials.
The incident reveals details of the military silos maintained on the NIST campus in Montgomery County since 1976. The silos are located at the agency's Nike site near Muddy Branch Road, near I-270 in Gaithersburg. Though the silo is welded shut, the agency said, crews unsealed it Thursday to conduct a safety evaluation.
NIST said it uses the missile silos for research.
The device was not the first security scare on the NIST campus this week. A white powder substance was found in recent days. A police officer threw the bag of powder in a trash can, before it was later removed and tested, an agency spokeswoman told the I-Team.
The testing, which was conducted by the NIST fire department, found the powder was mostly silicon dioxide and trichlorfin, the agency said.
A spokeswoman said the substance is used as a pesticide.
A security review of the powder incident was conducted, the I-Team has learned.
NIST released this statement Friday afternoon:
“After reading a NIST all staff email about the discovery and removal of the harmless device, a longtime NIST employee recalled fire research experiments 30 years ago to ensure the safety of military munitions being shipped by rail. A report of the research published in 1980 stated that a practice bomb was secured from the Army and instrumented to measure how much heat it absorbed during test fires using different types of fire protection insulation. The research was conducted to evaluate various methods of protecting Class A explosives during railway shipments.”