Charleston port terminal closed as Coast Guard investigates ‘dirty bomb’ threat

Charleston port terminal closed as Coast Guard investigates ‘dirty bomb’ threat

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charleston port dirty bomb
Maersk Memphis (shipspotting.org)

Early Thursday morning, the Orlando Sentinel reported that a terminal at the port of Charleston, South Carolina, was closed and evacuated over a threat of a possible “dirty bomb.” that was reportedly said to be on the container ship Maersk Memphis.  

According to WCIV:

Coast Guard officials confirm the Wando terminal of the Port of Charleston has been evacuated, and part of the Wando River has been shut down to boat traffic because of a threat aboard a container ship.

Capt. Greg Stump, commander for Coast Guard Sector Charleston, said Wednesday local, state and federal authorities, including the FBI, were all at the Wando terminal investigating the threat, and port employees have been evacuated.

The Sentinel added:

The release, sent from the Coast Guard’s 7th District offices in Miami, stated that Charleston’s Wando terminal has been evacuated while law enforcement from federal, state and local agencies investigate the ship.

A unified command has been established to oversee a coordinated response, according to Coast Guard officials.

Columbia, S.C., television station WLTX reported that, though law enforcement had no evidence of explosives aboard the vessel, they were investigating out of an abundance of caution.

The online site vesselfinder.com showed that the Maersk Memphis was docked on the Wando River this morning after arriving from the northeast earlier.

Fortunately, authorities did not find a dirty bomb, and, WCIV said, the threat was called in by a YouTube “conspiracy theorist” named George Webb:

According to Capt. Stump, a YouTube “conspiracy theorist” made a claim about a threat aboard the Memphis, and authorities are investigating the threat out of an abundance of caution.

In two videos posted Wednesday to YouTube, a man named George Webb claims there to be a “dirty bomb” aboard the Memphis, loaded in Pakistan during a recent trip to the Middle East.

A dirty bomb, the ABC affiliate said, is defined as an explosive device loaded with radioactive or radiation polluted materials. It is not a true nuclear weapon.

At this point, there is no credible evidence to suggest such a device is on the vessel and there have been no reported injuries.  Nevertheless, authorities said they investigated the reported threat out of an abundance of caution.

“Unified Command determines no existing threat to the port. Terminal will reopen & safety zone has been lifted,” the Coast Guard said in a tweet.  CNBC further said the original reporting source has been detained for questioning.

H/T: Liberty Unyielding

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