NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Keith recycling workers in explosives find 'averted potential tragedy'

recycling centre in Moray Image copyright JASPERIMAGE
Image caption The metal boxes were found at the site in Keith last Wednesday

Two council workers have been praised for "averting a potential tragedy" after they found a package containing 60 explosive detonators at a recycling centre.

The detonators and a hand plunger, which could have been used to set them off, were spotted in a metal box at the plant in Keith, Moray, last Wednesday.

Bomb disposal experts later carried out a controlled explosion.

Bosses at Moray Council have hailed the two workers who called in the police.

They said there could have been "devastating consequences" but for the quick thinking of George Burgess and Jim Durkin.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Jim Durkin, left, and George Burgess spotted the explosive detonators

Mike Neary, waste manager for Moray Council, said: "The team has no doubt seen many strange things being put to the recycling centre.

"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."

Mr Burgess was first to notice the metal boxes in an area at the site where people leave small electrical items.

'Easily triggered'

One of them had several wires coming out of it and he called on his colleague Mr Durkin - who has a family background in the opencast mining industry - to check it out.

Mr Durkin, 51, said: "These are very sensitive, small but powerful explosives that require a tiny electric current - or a spark - to set them off.

"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."

The recycling centre was closed off to the public after the devices were uncovered.

There is no information as to who left the boxes for recycling.

But the contents were described as being "of some vintage" and are likely to have been left over from nearby quarrying sites.

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