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17th February 2017

Bristol student accidentally synthesises dangerous explosive

The laboratory was evacuated and a controlled destruction carried out after a Ph.D. student created TATP as a by-product of a standard procedure

The University of Bristol was forced to evacuate a Chemistry building earlier this month, after a student inadvertently produced a dangerous explosive.

A statement by the university revealed that the chemical triacetone triperoxide, TATP, “was unintentionally formed during a routine procedure” being conducted by a Ph.D. student on 3rd of February.

The building was evacuated, and emergency services were called to the laboratory and carried out a controlled destruction of the substance.

TATP was the same substance used in the Paris attacks that took place in November 2015. It is easy to avoid detection as it does not contain hydrogen, but is also highly unstable.

Often, the illegal premises where bombs are being made are destroyed when it detonates early.

“Following a full investigation, we can confirm that the chemical triacetone triperoxide (TATP) was unintentionally formed during a routine procedure carried out by a Ph.D. student,” the university’s statement said.

“The student was following a published literature method and the risk of TATP as a potential byproduct had been identified during the risk assessment process.

“We have robust contingency plans in place to deal with incidents of this nature. As soon as the presence of TATP was identified, the student immediately notified those responsible for laboratory safety in the school.

“A series of actions were then taken which resulted in the precautionary evacuation of the chemistry building and surrounding buildings and the controlled disposal of the substance by the emergency services.”

They will review the risk assessment process to see if further steps can be taken to prevent a similar situation in future.

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