BOSTON (AP) – State police say nitrates detected in a piece of checked luggage at Boston’s Logan International Airport were traced to a sample of mud brought back from a river in Hong Kong.

Two gates at the American Airlines terminal were closed as a precaution on Tuesday afternoon after the nitrates were detected. The gates were reopened about an hour later after it was determined there was no danger.

State police said the mud sample was brought to Boston by a doctoral student at Hong Kong University who was participating in a research program at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Certain nitrates can be ingredients in explosives.

Police said Tuesday’s incident demonstrated the ability of security equipment at the Boston airport to detect even minute levels of potentially dangerous substances.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Comments (42)
  1. STan says:

    “Police said Tuesday’s incident demonstrated the ability of security equipment at the Boston airport to detect even minute levels of potentially dangerous substances.”

    It also demonstrated the sheer uselessness of the TSA and their policies as well as their over-reaction to nothing. Yay, TSA! You protected me from mud!!! I am sure the makers of Tide and Clorox will want a word with you though.

    1. Esteban Cafe says:

      Let’s spread fertilizer around the parking lot and let people track it in…shut the whole mess down. :)

    2. duckpuddle says:

      Pretty effective security. Stop those potential bombs coming from Asia AFTER they arive in the US!

  2. Doyle Wayne Grizzle says:

    Can anyone say “CRY WOLF”

  3. bert says:

    police state extends far and deep now. welcome to ameriKa!

    1. RAID 1600 PENNSYLVANIA AVE says:

      And the destructive reign of The Usurper-In-Chief continues…

  4. Mark Matis says:

    Be sure to thank your fine friends in “Law Enforcement” for the OUTSTANDING job they are doing!

  5. Detter says:

    LOL mud, eh? It’s appropriate. TSA brown shirts suck.

    USA should go to Israel to be trained for airport security. They offered and what did we do, eh?

    1. Mark Matis says:

      But the Israelis PROFILE! And we can’t have that. Because the REAL terrorists are not from the Religion of Peace! They are all bible thumping, gun clutching, pale stale white males. Or so sez Janet…

  6. Bill says:

    I was singled out by a Continental Airlines bomb sniffer due to an alarm clock I was carrying that had a phosphorus glow in the dark dial. I told them that it had to be the clock, but they kept saying ‘no, it is not that’. Finally, after searching my bag for over 30 minutes, one of the searchers said that it had to be my clock. Continental then put me on their computer’s terrorist watch list and every time I flew on them from that time onward, I would be search three times before being allowed to get on a plane. I used to fly over 25,000 miles a year, but because of my continuous Continental search problem, I changed jobs and have not flown on any airline since. I will be getting a private pilots license soon.

    1. Rob Johnson says:

      “I will be getting a private pilots license soon.”

      Weather is more of an issue but this is what I did several years ago and I LOVE being able to travel as a free American again!

      So go for it!

      PS. I also will drink a FULL can of soda during a flight now! lol Hell I might even throw in a snickers bar!

  7. Dave says:

    That’s why potassium nitrate is called ‘salt peter’ meaning it’s found in peat bogs and mud.

  8. mark says:

    Oh Boy!!! Nitrates….better not take hotdogs on board, they have nitrates in them. Besides somebody might mistake you for a congressman.

    1. Gregorio says:

      It’s nitrites in hot dogs, genius…

  9. Freeman says:

    Who-hoo TSA saved us from a deadly clot of mud, but refuses to check young muslim men between 20-35 (who have committed 99% of all terrorist acts in the last 60 years). WAY TO GO TSA!

  10. Pat says:

    Okayyyyy, so why does the T&A want to continue the pictures and the groping?

    1. Rob Johnson says:

      ‘Cause it’s FUN! DUH! ;)

  11. GuyInAZ says:

    and this is a news story why? beyond pointing out the uselessness of another goverment program and the nonsense we are all tired of?

  12. Rick_vonBerne says:

    The scanner does pick up nitrates very effectively, so the terrorists developed a whole new class of explosives that don’t include nitrates, making the scanners useless. That’s why DHS limits the fluids allowed to be brought on to planes. The new explosive can be a liquid.

    1. Esteban Cafe says:

      I seriously doubt that ‘terrorists developed a whole new class of explosives” as they have not invented anything but the explosive vest–and even that has your American technology in it. I’m sure they just shopped around to find whatever met their needs.

      As a ‘death cult’, Muslim inventiveness ended in the7th Century…all such efforts are now focused on death.

  13. Gregorio says:

    I’m just waiting for the one time, and that time will eventually come, that someone does manage to get an explosive on an aircraft. When that day comes, I’m certain all you pinheads will be the same people that will cry and whine that TSA didn’t do enough to protect the nation’s airways.

    The terrorist only have to get lucky once. TSA has to try and be right every time…

    1. Jay kellog says:

      You are right. We will be complaining. Because it is a near 100% certainty that it will be a young Muslim, probably here illegally, that will smuggle it aboard. The video will show him breezing thru security as TSA gropes a 78 year-old Norwegian grandmother from Minnesota. You know, because profiling is useless according to DHS. It is just as likely that Myrtle would be a terrorist, as Achmed, the Yemeni exchange student that “slipped thru the cracks”.

      And useful idiots like you will happily buy that explanation, and even consent to further violations….so long as they are spread equally among us. You know, so you can assuage your white guilt.

      1. Gregorio says:

        You, do realize, imbecile, that until September11th, 2001, more Americans were killed by white, Christian, American-born terrorists than Muslims. And, from the way all these white, so-called “Christian” TSA-hating knuckle-draftees are howling and acting, I’d say that they are much more of a threat to bring down a planeload of people than any Islamists.

        Where you see Mohammed Atta, I see Tim McVeigh, Ted Kaczynski and Eric Rudolph…

      2. Yes, I'm a pilot says:

        Gregorio – you know, if it was 1995 I might agree with you – but thats not the threat today – and NEVER was a threat even in 1995 at the airport.

        But, if you want to live in the past, call people stupid because they live in the present – you keep right doing it. Since everything comes around again maybe some anti-TSA nutjob will blow up a plane – in the meantime, my money is on Muslim males between the ages of 15-45 or those from an Islamic country . . .

    2. Pilgrims Pride says:

      Go back to your mud hut and genuflect to your lords and bishops, begging for their mercy.

      Your quivering peasant infantilism is unbecoming an American. For that matter, it is unbecoming a little boy.

    3. Veritas says:

      Straw man arguments fallaciously misrepresent your opponent’s position, genius…

  14. John Sheridan says:

    Better not step in dog poop, that has a lot of nitrates in it as well

  15. Guy in Jersey says:

    I can’t believe some of the bone head comments here ripping the TSA. The fact that their instruments can detect such minute levels should make anyone with any detectable common sense(which excludes most of the idiots commenting here) feel much safer about their ability to detect explosives in baggage.

    1. jay kellog says:

      Hey Genius. Instruments like this have existed for years. There is no “amazing instrument” here. It is the fact they can’t tell the difference between an explosive and a clot of mud or dog poo on your shoe that makes them worthless for serious security. As a Marine I can tell you, It’s why even our military won’t use them in ACTIVE terrorist zones. They use profiling.

      One of the reasons these scanners aren’t used seriously in the Midwest is the prevalence of residual fertilizers on farmer’s clothes.

      Imagine a cop that stops everyone he sees and runs them through his computer, then finds that 1 in 500 who had an outstanding warrant. I bet you’d praise his incredible law enforcement instincts.

      The fact is, proper profiling (not just ethnicity, but behaviors) has been shown in every single study to beat the systems TSA uses. It is a threat-based search as opposed to searching for the IMPLEMENTS of such a threat. Since terrorists always come up with something new, that always puts you in a reactive mode. You prevent nothing. We, as a society, simply refuse to adopt real security measures do to white guilt…i.e. Political Correctness.

      1. EOD Tech says:

        The military actually does use some of the same equipment TSA uses to find homemade explosives in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ever heard of an ramen chemical analyzer? Some explosives can be made to closely resemble mud. Profiling is all well and good but it doesn’t do the trick alone. Bomb Sqauds across the country use these same machines. No one method is 100% full proof and all of these things work together. To exclude one method over another just because some negative study that gives you the results you want to is plain ignorance. People posting on here clearly have preconceived prejudices against TSA and lae enforcement and that’s fine as long as most of you are aware that you have very little idea of what you’re talking about.

  16. Barry Weavers says:

    Oh for crissakes; that lower level of detection is just stupid for screening airline passengers. Does TSA have any concept of what a reasonable lower limit of detection is or is anything above zero now a terror threat ?

  17. JMWinPR says:

    So a student brought Hong Kong river mud into the country. Was it quarantined?
    Was there a permit. If I try an bring a mango from P”R into the States, it is confiscated.
    Let’ s have a quiz: Who can name other things that have caused great harm when brought to this country?
    Japanese beetle, Asian Horn beetle, Dutch elm disease, gypsy moths, Africanized bees. Asian bees brought the mites that killed the American (European honey bee). Throw the student and the mud both out, one because it may be contaminated, the other because it is too stupid to be a student.
    As for the nitrate test, at least they shut the terminal down, the last time this occurred they just let the people go.

  18. Bobarian says:

    Meanwhile, 80 percent of the baggage handlers and maintenance workers at Boston Logan are Muslim.

  19. Yes, I'm a pilot says:

    What dangerous substances were detected? Mud from a river in China? I did not know that was a dangerous substance . . . . idiots . .

    Not in the story is the intelligent observation that the explosives were detected in BOSTON at the DESTINATION of the passenger – not either in China where he supposedly was screened before getting on a plane to the US, nor, were they detected at a transit location on American [Dallas, Chicago or Los Angeles] where the passenger came through customs.

    So if it WAS a bomb – it would have gone off somewhere between China and Boston . . catching it in Boston is like putting on a condom AFTER the positive pregnancy test. . . . e

  20. Legion says:

    This story leaves mud in the TSA’s faces.

  21. Savage24 says:

    How did this mud get from Hong Kong to Boston’s Logan Airport? Real great security we have since DHS and TSA taken control.

    1. Gregorio says:

      Thank the Chinese for that, pal. TSA has nothing to do with airport security in China.

      1. Yes, I'm a pilot says:

        But they do where he reentered the USA. American Airlines [nor anyone else] does not offer non-stop service between China and Boston – so – the mud was MISSED during both a customs inspection as well as during the re-screening what occurred when he passed through customs for the flight to Boston. So – your smarmy comment simply reveals your ignorance of how the system really works –

  22. Fisher1949 says:

    Over a Trillion dollars spent so far for TSA to protect us from mud?! Do these imbeciles have a clue?

    This is just another example in a long,m long string of stupid actions by TSA. This is the same agency that has a 70% failure rate, 28 security failures in the last six months and 32 screeners arrested since December for serious crimes.

    We can not afford to continue to spends tens of billions of dollars to fund this useless agency whose only function is to harass and intimidate their employers.

    1. f0rTyLeGz says:

      We are terrorized! We are afraid, and no one trusts anyone. We depend on machines to “keep us safe.”

  23. FascistNanny says:

    With Nuns, wheelchair bound old men, infants, and all of the hot babes that the TSA deems it necessary to go to third base with daily; I think a reasonable argument can be made that the ‘Terrorists’ have won. I agree with jay kellog in his previous comments with regards to PROFILING. It’s a sad truth that the current approach is only reactive and is not capable of defeating the imagination of our enemies.
    I was traveling in England nearly twenty years ago, and while I am an American citizen, my family lineage and name are Irish. At any port of entry, or train ticket window or hotel check in, my passport was scrutenized more closely than my traveling companions; it was checked against lists, and it was written down on other lists. I was pulled fron security lines and asked questions, at the Channel crossing my picture was taken. I was never touched more than anyone else however. I understood that I was being profiled, and I was more than happy to help. It made the security folks happy, it made the traveling public, and I’m certain it helped the British citizens feel safer and it ultimatly made me feel safer too. PROFILE!

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