By Danielle Nadler, Norman K. Styer and Renss Greene
The Central Intelligence Agency has claimed responsibility for the C-4 explosive found on a Loudoun County school bus Wednesday morning.
The CIA announced in a press release that a CIA K-9 unit accidentally left the plastic explosive in the bus after a training exercise at Briar Woods High School during spring break last week. The CIA has said it has taken “immediate steps to strengthen inventory and control procedures in its K-9 program” to prevent such an incident from happening again.
The C-4 was found on a school bus during a routine inspection Wednesday morning, triggering a response that included K-9 sweeps, a bomb squad, and a police lock down of the area for much of Wednesday.
According to Loudoun County schools Public Information Officer Wayde Byard, the bus transported students on Monday and Tuesday before the county discovered the leftover explosives. The bus transported 26 students from Pinebrook and Buffalo Trail elementary schools and Rock Ridge High School. The school system has attempted to contact affected families.
Byard said there was no detonator attached, and the material could not be detonated by normal activity. C-4 will only explode when subjected to a combination of extreme heat and a shockwave caused by a detonator.
The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office and the Loudoun County Fire Marshal announced that this particular training program has been suspended pending a thorough review of all procedures.
The C-4 was located inside the engine compartment of a bus. According to a county press release, the material appeared to have come dislodged from a container and fallen into the engine compartment, and was not recovered after training.
County and school leaders have said the CIA needs to be more careful, and school board member Beth Huck (At Large) said the school system should reexamine the policy that gives agencies permission to use its facilities for training.
“If that’s something that we allow on occasion, regardless of how often, we need to have procedures in place to make sure the buses and schools are safe before they’re used again,” she said. “It sounds like that didn’t happen.”
Supervisor Koran T. Saines (D-Sterling) commended the school system’s mechanics for spotting the C-4 and immediately notifying law enforcement, and said it was “shocking” it happened.
“I hope they update their policies and their procedures and do a better job, because that’s just a little alarming,” Saines said.