PROCTOR - A bomb scare at the former Columbia Chemicals Plant ended safely Wednesday after a section of W.Va. 2 was shut down for several hours.
At about 10 a.m., employees of Consol Energy, who were at the facility changing office locks, discovered a device that appeared to them like some type of explosive, said Marshall County Chief Sheriff's Deputy Kevin Cecil.
Consol Energy recently purchased the plant and is in the process of clearing offices and buildings. The employees immediately called 911 and sheriff's deputies were sent to the area, Cecil said.
"Deputies found the device sitting on a desk in an office of one of the main buildings," Cecil said. "The device did look like something legitimate that was not made by an amateur. We definitely thought it could have been a bomb."
Cecil said the suspicious device was a box about 10 inches long covered with tape and silicon putty. There were several wires that could be seen coming from the box that were attached to six 6-volt batteries. A Marshall County bomb expert was called to the scene and he decided to detonate the bomb without removing it from the area.
"Our bomb expert believed this device could have been such a threat that he decided to detonate it right inside this office," Cecil said.
Deputies and two local fire departments kept the roadway cleared during the detonation and while the plant was checked for any other devices, Cecil said.
"We did find a vehicle on the property and we were able to trace it back to an individual who formerly worked with Columbia Chemicals," Cecil said. "He immediately became a person of interest."
Officers spent most of the morning and afternoon searching for the possible suspect. By early afternoon the man was located and questioned. He told police the suspected bomb was a device used for training at the plant for many years and he had kept it at his desk and left it when the business closed, Cecil said.
"We're not sure why he decided to leave it at his desk, but of course we had no choice but to take it seriously," he said.