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Explosives Found in Huntington Beach Harbor

15 January 2006: On Wednesday, 11 January 2006, environmental divers working for Merkel Associates of San Diego, hired to check on algae growth in the Huntington Beach Harbor discovered seven or perhaps eight commercial-grade explosive detonators that were “strategically placed” on the ocean floor in Long Canal, near Bonaire Circle in about 10-15 feet of water. According to law enforcement officials, each detonator, or blasting cap, was attached to a 10-foot-long, brightly colored wire. An analysis of the explosives determined that they were placed on the harbor floor within 36 hours of their discovery. Following their discovery, eight law enforcement agencies responded to the scene; at least 15 divers, including ten from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, four from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and one diver from the FBI searched the floor of the harbor for additional explosives and to recover the explosives that were found.

During the recovery operation, Jim AMORMINO of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department described the explosives as “commercial grade detonators used to trigger large explosions in mines or other sites and are considered highly unstable. They are concussion-type explosive devices, as opposed to fragmentation type. The detonators could cause an explosion equivalent to a hand grenade, and could definitely injure anyone near, any diver near there, any person in water, any boat near that explosion. They are typically attached to a bigger explosive device. This was our concern, (that) they were attached to a bigger explosive device,” stated AMORMINO.

About the size of a shotgun shell, the explosives were spread over a 150-yard area and could be detonated by the use of cell phones or specific radio signals. During the recovery of the explosives, authorities banned cell phone use to prevent accidental detonation. AMORMINO added: “The situation is very serious. We’re confident we located all of them. Now the question at this stage is how they got there. They were intentionally placed there.”

Meanwhile, official publicly stated that although they have no idea how the explosives got there (in the harbor) or how many more of them are out there, they stated that “terrorism was not suspected.” Officials also believe that it is unlikely that the explosives are from the nearby Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station. Authorities continue to interview nearby residents for any information to this discovery.

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