A suspected meth lab exploded in a federal laboratory Saturday night, and now Congress wants to know why.
Congress opened an investigation into the blast that occurred at a laboratory on the National Institute of Standards and Technology campus in Gaithersburg, Md., after initial reports that it was caused by a security guard manufacturing drugs.
On Wednesday, Rep. Lamar Smith sent a formal letter to Penny Pritzker, secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce, which oversees the NIST, demanding to know exactly what was going on.
“If these initial reports are verified, the fact that this explosion took place at a taxpayer funded NIST facility potentially endangering NIST employees is of great concern,” Smith wrote in his letter.
Smith, who oversees the Committee on Science, Space and Technology, the principal oversight committee for the NIST in Congress, said he wants a full briefing on the incident by next week and continual updates on a weekly basis thereafter.
During the weekend explosion event, a large explosion ripped a blast shield right out of a wall in the NIST building. Police found pseudoephedrine, the main ingredient in Sudafed, drain cleaner and a recipe for meth inside the building and, when they found the security guard, he had burns on his hands and arms.
The security guard was taken to a local hospital and treated for burns before being released Sunday morning. By Sunday night, he had resigned from his security guard job.
The NIST does a wide variety of testing and experiments, including measurement science. The campus where the explosion occurred is located about 15 miles north of Washington, D.C.
As of Friday, the security guard had not been charged with any crimes.
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