Bomb Squad Uses Robot to Neutralize Explosive Material

The Los Angeles Police bomb squad used a robot Thursday in an attempt to neutralize a bottle of highly explosive material discovered in the basement of a medical research laboratory in the Westlake district.

A police spokesman said about a pound of cellulose nitrate--a normally harmless compound used for preservation of organs used in research--was discovered “in a decomposing and apparently unstable condition” in a basement at the Seton Hall Ear Institute of St. Vincent Medical Center, in the 200 block of South Lake Street.

About 200 employees of the research center, which is located a block north of the hospital, and 50 residents of nearby apartment buildings were evacuated.

The police spokesman said the robot would be used either to neutralize the chemical by flooding it with water, or to move the container to a safe place for detonation.