Sample Block

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

For Immediate Release

April 2, 2010

Contact: Cheryl D. Bishop

Special Agent, Public Information Officer

Office: (206) 389-5859

Cell: (206) 255-5981

ATF Conducts Large Scale Disposal of Illegal Explosives on Island of Saipan

SAIPAN, Common Northern Marina Islands — The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) announced today they will be conducting a large scale disposal operation of hazardous illegal explosives devices on the island of Saipan. The disposal will be conducted in partnership with the Common Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) Department of Public Safety, CNMI Department of Public Works and the Saipan Fire Department. A specialized team of explosives enforcement officers from ATF’s Explosives Technology Branch in Washington, DC, will lead the disposal operation which began on Wednesday, March 31st and is anticipated to be completed by April 6th, 2010. The operation began with an inventory and analysis of approximately 500 cases of illegal hazardous explosives described as clandestinely manufactured commercial grade fireworks shipped from Beihai, China to Saipan.

The fireworks were brought to the attention of ATF through anonymous letters from island citizens expressing safety concerns, as well as consequential inspections by Guam Customs and Quarantine and the CNMI Department of Public Safety. Many of the shipped cases of fireworks did not display the required markings mandated by both the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Upon ATF inventory and technical examination, many of the fireworks were also found to contain excess amounts of explosives powder well above the classification indicated on the packaging making the devices significantly more powerful than allowed by law. While ATF does not normally regulate consumer fireworks, which is the responsibility of States and Territories, these particular items became subject to federal statutes and storage requirements as a result of the DOT and CPSC violations.

These types of explosives devices and fireworks can be extremely dangerous and should never be taken lightly, said JD Powell, the Supervisory ATF Explosives Enforcement Officer. Over the years more state and local bomb technicians have been injured or killed disposing of illegal fireworks than any other type of disposal operation.

If we could encourage people to do one thing, said George Mastin, supervisor of the ATF Guam Office, it would be to take all fireworks seriously and be extremely careful around them. We’re really out here this week with one main purpose, to help protect islanders by safely disposing of a hazardous and unsafe product.

This is the first time a disposal operation of this nature has been conducted on Saipan or within the Common Northern Mariana Islands.

Caption to follow

DANGEROUS TASK — pictured above is part of the shipment of illegal explosives that will be destroyed on the island of Saipan by ATF.