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Suspected Meth Lab at NIST

An explosion last weekend at the US National Institute of Standards and Technology appears to be due to illicit production of methamphetamines, Chemical & Engineering News reports. The Associated Press adds that pseudoephedrine, Epsom salts, and other materials used to make meth were reportedly present at the site.

The explosion occurred in a small room in the separate special projects building on the NIST campus, and the lab had recently been cleared out after one experiment on combustion had concluded to make way for another project, C&EN says. A security guard was injured in the blast, according to the AP, and resigned from NIST Sunday.

Montgomery County police and the Drug Enforcement Administration are jointly investigating the incident, and they tell the AP that no charges have yet been filed.

"Just as in any investigation … we're interviewing possible witnesses and letting the evidence take us just where it should," Police Captain Paul Starks tells ScienceInsider.

The incident has caught the attention of Rep. Lamar S. Smith (R-Texas), who chairs the House of Representatives science committee. He's asked Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker — NIST is part of the Department of Commerce — to brief his committee on the situation next week, it adds.

"I am troubled by the allegations that such dangerous and illicit activity went undetected at a federal research facility," Smith says.

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