Coffee Thermos Causes Jitters at Ohio Airport

Thermos tested positive for explosives, but it was a false positive -- nothing but coffee inside


The only question now is whether it was regular or decaffeinated coffee that prompted the Tuesday morning evacuation of a section of Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

Officers working at a security screening area outside of Concourse B that services primarily Southwest Airlines sounded the alarm shortly before 6 a.m. after discovering a metal thermos container on a wooden planter.

Airport Commissioner Fred Szabo said the area was evacuated and the bomb squad was called after a security officer from the Transportation Security Administration did a preliminary test for explosives on the container and it tested positive.

The bomb squad removed the coffee thermos from the terminal and took it to an isolated part of the airfield, where further tests revealed around 7 a.m. that it never contained anything more sinister than coffee.

No flights were canceled, but two Continental Express regional jets were delayed. While the security checkpoint at Concourse B was closed, passengers were sent through two other nearby security screening areas.

Szabo said police theorize the thermos container may have belonged to a construction worker from one of several projects at the airport. The container's exposure to dust on the work site may have caused it to falsely register positive for explosives.

Szabo said police would like to find the owner of the thermos bottle.

``I think at this point, the chances of finding the owner are slim,'' he said. ``He may have been in the crowd watching all this and just figures he'll buy a new one.''