Coast Guard: Reported 'dirty bomb' threat at Wando terminal originated with YouTube video

Source: Live 5 News
Source: Live 5 News
Source: Live 5 News
Source: Live 5 News

MOUNT PLEASANT, SC (WCSC) - Officials with the Coast Guard say they were alerted to what later proved to be an unfounded "dirty bomb" threat at the Wando Terminal Wednesday night from information in a YouTube video.

USCG Lt. Ryan Kelly confirmed the initial information about the possible threat came from a YouTube video, but said it is not yet clear how a person being questioned may be connected to the video itself. A tweet Thursday morning stated a person described as "the original source" was facing questions about the incident. No other details about the person, including age or gender, have been released.

According to federal officials, a man wanted in connection to the incident is in custody at Zanesville, Ohio on an unrelated charge, and is now being questioned by the FBI.

Coast Guard officials confirmed Thursday morning via Twitter four containers had been scanned and cleared. Fourteen agents with radiation detection technology investigated these containers and found no signs of radiation, officials said.

The terminal will be reopened Thursday morning and a safety zone has been lifted.

Coast Guard officials say the FBI was called in to investigate a report of a "dirty bomb" aboard a vessel. A dirty bomb is composed of conventional explosives and radioactive material.

The potential threat had been reported at approximately 8 p.m. Wednesday involving a container aboard the vessel Maersk Memphis, according to a Coast Guard report.

"The Maersk Memphis is currently moored at Charleston's Wando terminal which has been evacuated while bomb detection units from federal, state and local law enforcement agencies investigate the threat," Coast Guard officials said.

The Coast Guard says a unified command was established to oversee the coordinated response. Agencies that responded include the Coast Guard, FBI, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Mount Pleasant Police, Mount Pleasant Fire, Charleston County Sheriff's Office, Charleston Port Authority, National Guard, SLED as well as Hazmat and EMS crews.

Workers said they were told to leave the terminal around 9 p.m.

Boaters say they were also escorted off the water due to the situation.

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