Bomb Found in U. Oregon Lab Crawl Space

Four University of Oregon buildings near the Millrace Studios were evacuated Monday evening after a service worker discovered a bomb in a crawl space beneath an archeology laboratory.

The Eugene Police Department's bomb squad disarmed the device, found beneath the Coastal Archeology and Human Ecology Laboratory, at about 5 p.m., said police spokeswoman Kerry Delf. The bomb "wasn't a particularly large one, but it could have caused very serious injury or even death to a person or persons," Delf said.

Delf said the bomb wasn't capable of causing "serious structural damage" to the building.

No one was injured in the incident.

The bomb "had been there for some time, potentially for years," Delf said.

"It was not in a location that was accessible from the outside; it looked it had been there for quite a long time," she said. "There is no reason to think there was anything recent or current or other implications there."

The incident began at about 3:30 p.m. when a worker found a suspicious device in the building's crawl space, left it alone and reported it to authorities. The man was a Network Services technician installing wires, said anthropology graduate student Todd Braje, who was working in the building at the time.

"Thankfully (the worker) realized there was reason to be concerned and removed himself," Delf said.

The Department of Public Safety evacuated the laboratory and three other buildings. DPS and police established a perimeter around the lab.

When the bomb squad arrived, members entered the crawl space. They "determined it was, in fact, a real device," Delf said.

The squad rendered the bomb safe on site, Delf said. People were allowed to re-enter the area at about 5:20 p.m.

Anthropology professor and building manager Jon Erlandson said he looked into the crawl space more than three years ago but didn't see anything. Since then, the trapdoor into the space has been covered with carpet, he said.

The building is currently used to analyze samples brought back from the field, including animal bones and other artifacts. About three to five archeologists and many students use the building on a regular basis, he said.

"It surprised me in that I didn't know there was access under the building that anyone could put something in there," he said.

There is no reason to suspect the device was placed at the building because it is a laboratory, Delf said.

Erlandson said the building formerly housed the laboratory of well-known biology professor Jane Gray, who worked at the University until her death in 2000. A specialist in paleo-botany, she was "investigating the nature of atmospheric carbon dioxide present since the Cambrian," according to an online biography about Gray posted on www.palynology.org.

"Jane Gray was a tremendous character, but I have no reason to think anyone was targeting her. She was here for decades," Erlandson said.

Braje said the University and local authorities handled the evacuation in a well-orchestrated and reassuring manner.

This is the first incident of a live explosive device found on campus in recent years that Delf can remember, she said.

Delf urged anyone who finds a suspicious device not to move it.

(C) 2006 Oregon Daily Emerald via U-WIRE


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