NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Investigators say the bomb that went off in Chelsea contained residue of an explosive compound that is easy to find.
CBS2’s Alice Gainer reported Tannerite, which is the brand name, is unregulated and that anyone can buy it. The compound is sold as a mix of two chemicals and it creates high explosives when combined.
An instructional video on Tannerite Sports’ website explains how the exploding target works.
“Pour the contents of the catalyst packet into the mixing container,” the instructor said in the video.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives defines binary explosives as pre-packaged products consisting of two separate components – typically an oxidizer like ammonium nitrate and a fuel like aluminum or another metal.
The ATF doesn’t regulate the compound because separately, the chemicals don’t meet the definition of explosive.
In response to the Chelsea explosion, Tannerite Sports said it is working to determine if their product was definitely used in Saturday’s explosion.
“As far as our knowledge and independent testing results show, our product can only be set off by a successful high-power rifle shot directly to the target; and in addition that once done it vaporizes as it is an endothermic product,” the company said in a statement.
Manny Gomez, a former FBI agent and security expert, said the company is being on the “defensive.”
“They’re being defensive. The bottom line is not if that was used, the bottom line is that product, as well as other products, are easily accessible and could detonate a pressure cooker,” Gomez explained.
He continued, “Just like you set off a round in a rifle simply by pushing a little snap, every round has its own little detonator, it’s a similar thing with a pressure cooker. The only thing is that they used old-fashioned flip phones as a method of detonation.”
Gomez compared the product to gasoline put in cars, noting people use it responsibly, but if used inappropriately, that could light a building up.
“It’s just something we have to be aware of that these terrorists are very clever at finding out what components can come together and make an improvised exploding device,” Gomez said.
Though they don’t regulate it, ATF has put out advisories about binary explosives before.
They ask people to report any unusual activity with these materials. For example, if someone is attempting to buy a large quantity while knowing very little about the product.
The suspect in the bombings, Ahmad Khan Rahami, will be charged with five counts of attempted murder.