ANCHORAGE, Alaska – An item found in an oil worker's carry-on luggage at Anchorage airport was an improvised explosive device and there was no malicious intent to use it, an agent for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said.
The unidentified worker told officials the homemade explosive is used for avalanche control, not necessarily on the North Slope, and he didn't intend to bring it with him on the plane Sunday, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
"There was no malicious intent behind the possession of this," ATF agent Michael Graham said Tuesday in an interview.
However, Graham said he has never received reports of such devices, known as IEDs, being used for avalanche control. He could not say whether the man made the device himself.
ATF agents found four similar devices in the man's home. If the agency determines them to be "destructive," he could be charged with possession of an unregistered destructive device, Graham said.
The ATF plans to present its findings to the U.S. attorney's office in about a week, and prosecutors will decide whether to file charges. The man's name was being withheld pending a determination on possible charges.
The discovery of the device at the airport led to an hour-long shutdown of airport security screening. The man had a ticket for a Shared Services oil worker transport flight.
ConocoPhillips operates Shared Services, a co-venture between the company and BP that transports more than 20,000 employees and contract workers between Anchorage, Fairbanks and the North Slope each month, said Amy Burnett, a Conoco spokeswoman.
Burnett said she didn't know how many workers had tickets for the North Slope flight, but the plane could hold 136 people.
"I really can't speculate about what happened in this case or why the passenger had the device with him other than to say the investigation determined that he didn't intend any ill will," she said.
Transportation Security Administration agents who found the device in the luggage cleared a 300-foot radius around the security checkpoint, officials say. Airport manager John Parrott said the airport wasn't evacuated because agents saw the device didn't have a detonator.