Fertiliser bags spark bomb scare

Last updated 14:00 10/01/2013

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Employees were evacuated from their offices and the bomb squad called in after two bags of a "suspicious substance" were found on an Auckland street corner this morning.

The Fire Service was called out to the intersection of Norwich and Diamond streets in Eden Terrace at about 10.30am and discovered what they thought was 15kg of "explosive blasting type powder" due to the chemical identification number on it.

However, after closer inspection the bags were not found to contain explosives but nitrate fertiliser.

There was a 100-metre cordon around the scene and people were evacuated from surrounding buildings, a fire communications spokeswoman said. The cordon has since been removed.

Glenn Hoey from Fujitsu, which is based on Diamond St, had a prime view of the action and though his building wasn't evacuated he said there were several employees from a closer business who were.

Police went around the area, which is a mix of commercial properties and apartments, and told those who were not evacuated to stay away from the windows.

Despite the risk, Hoey could not resist taking a couple of photos with his phone.

Senior Sergeant Steve Samuels said police were investigating why the nitrate had been left on the street.

Because of the fertiliser's use in explosives, there can be restrictions around the sale of it. Ammonium nitrate fertiliser was used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people.

However Samuels was quick to rule out any sinister intentions behind the incident.

"On it's own it's quite stable - it's just normal fertiliser," he said.

"But with certain chemicals, that stuff supplies a bigger oomph. It's like a car with a turbo charger."

He confirmed there were no other chemicals found at the scene.

The fertiliser was put in a drum and firefighters were waiting for Auckland Council staff to arrive before removing it.

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- Auckland Now

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