Council workers who spotted explosive detonators at a north-east recycling centre have been praised for having “averted a potential tragedy”.
George Burgess and Jim Durkin found a metal box containing about 60 detonators at Moray Council’s recycling centre at Keith, as well as one containing a hand plunger that could have been used to set them off, and the cords needed to connect them.
Mr Burgess, site attendant, noticed two unusual metal boxes in one of the recycling sheds where the public usually put small electrical items for processing.
His colleague Jim, who has a background in open-cast mining, checked the contents of the boxes after seeing there were several wires hanging out of them, discovering explosive detonators inside.
He immediately called the police, who summoned the MoD’s Bomb Disposal Unit in Edinburgh.
The council’s waste manager, Mike Neary, praised the quick action of his two colleagues.
He said: “The team has no doubt has seen many strange things being put to the recycling centre,” he said.
“So when they think there is something odd about an item, we take notice.
“We are so lucky to have such experienced people on the ground like Jim and George, I’ve no doubt they averted a potential tragedy further down the waste process.”
The recycling centre was immediately closed to the public until the detonators were removed and safely disposed of by the bomb squad.
Jim, 51, said: “If these had been processed as usual the people handling them further down the processing line could easily set them off, with devastating consequences.
“Even if they’d ended up in landfill, the machinery involved there would have easily triggered an explosion.”
There is no information as to who left the boxes for recycling, but the contents were of some vintage and are most likely to have been leftover from nearby quarrying sites.
The contents of the boxes were later destroyed by the Bomb Disposal Unit in a controlled explosion off site.