Chemicals found after an explosion at a government laboratory north of Washington are consistent with the manufacture of methamphetamine, a Montgomery County police spokesman said Tuesday.
The bizarre incident, which occurred Saturday evening at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, injured a member of NIST’s security force, an institute spokeswoman said. The staffer, a police officer for the agency, was treated at a local trauma center and released. The officer has not been named.
Gail Porter, a NIST spokeswoman, said the staff member resigned, effective Sunday.
Montgomery police and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration are handling the case, said Capt. Paul Starks, a Montgomery police spokesman.
“This is an open investigation. At this point, we’re not identifying anyone who may be involved,” Starks said. “First, we have to look at all the circumstances and determine if what occurred rises to a criminal violation.”
The sprawling NIST campus in Gaithersburg is a branch of the U.S. Department of Commerce and is the site for a wide range of testing, experiments and research. Among their other pursuits, scientists there have earned several Nobel prizes for their study of atomic physics.
On Saturday night, inside NIST’s Building 236, a “relatively small” explosion erupted, according to NIST. Laboratory police and firefighters responded and called in their counterparts from Montgomery County.
Starks would not say whether investigators have determined whether any drug-making chemicals were stored on the property or what kind of drug-making equipment may have been found there.
Methamphetamine, also called meth, is an extremely addictive stimulant, which can be smoked or sniffed, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. It is made using hazardous chemicals, according to the institute.