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Explosive training device left on plane

British Columbia’s transit police have been forced to explain how an inert explosive device used in a dog-training exercise was left on an Air Canada airplane that then flew to Toronto.

The force has blamed a single officer who subsequently resigned, and says new training protocols have been put in place in the two years since the mistake was made.

The critics who shed light on the incident, however, cite the security breach as a reason for alternate transit security.

“I would hope there would be no loss of confidence,” Anne Drennan, spokeswoman for the Vancouver area Transit Police, said in an interview Monday.

“This is the error of one officer. It wasn’t a situation, fortunately, where anybody was actually put at risk but it’s something that should never have happened and we’ve taken steps to ensure that it won’t happen again.”

The glass bottle containing a chewing gum-sized wad of explosive material was missing for two days before the dog-handling transit officer noticed in January 2011 that his kit was incomplete.

By that time, the plane where the exercise was staged was back in service and on the ground in Ontario.

Authorities including the RCMP and Coast Guard were involved in a vigorous search that finally gave an all-clear for use of the aircraft after 14 checks.

They came to the conclusion the device had likely been picked up as trash, transported to a dump and incinerated.

Drennan said preventing future incidents includes requiring any officer involved in training to fill in a log book showing all the samples have been returned and the kit is completely intact.

The force also no longer uses in-service aircraft for training, opting instead for retired planes located at a Vancouver area technical college, she said.

 
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