Suspicious device found last week not a bomb, Grass Valley police say |

Suspicious device found last week not a bomb, Grass Valley police say

Police called the package either a hoax or a crude electrolysis device.
Grass Valley Police Department

The device, featuring 9-volt batteries and wires connecting two containers, was a dud, Grass Valley police said.

An employee spotted it Aug. 19 when taking out the trash. Two containers — one holding what looked like white powder and the other an unknown liquid — led officers to cordon off the Business Services Center, across the street from Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, police have said.

Officers determined that day the white powder was salt. Days later they learned about the liquid.

“The liquid inside appeared to just be water,” Grass Valley Sgt. Dan Kimbrough said Monday.

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“It was not a bomb,” he added.

Authorities don’t yet have a motive. The investigation is ongoing.

“We are trying to get fingerprints now,” Kimbrough said.

Capt. Steve Johnson called the device either a hoax or a crude electrolysis device.

“It had some components that are sometimes used in an electrolysis device in order to split water (H20) into its atomic components of hydrogen and oxygen using electricity,” Johnson said in an email.

Debbie Plass, the hospital’s vice president of operations, couldn’t be reached for comment.

The bomb scare led police to evacuate about 15 employees from the Business Services Center on Aug. 19. They told people in nearby buildings to shelter in place.

The placement of the device made any possible damage unlikely, Johnson said last week. Police said the public faced no danger.

Traffic moved unimpeded through the area during the three hours it took to ensure the device was disabled. A security guard stood near the police cordon, ensuring no one passed.

“We are grateful for the cooperation of the employees affected while we made absolutely sure that it was not a device that could have caused harm,” Johnson said.

To contact City Editor Alan Riquelmy, email or call 530-477-4239.

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