Cambridge Police Bomb Unit and MIT police responded early this morning to a report of “suspicious materials” in New House. Police evacuated New House and Next House, and cordoned off Amherst Alley near MacGregor. At around 2 p.m., MIT announced that the materials posed no threat to campus safety, and that the area was safe to re-enter.
At around 7:30 this morning, private contractors working on renovations reported “suspicious materials” in a common area on the third floor of New House 6 (German House). According to Cambridge Police spokesman Daniel Riviello, contractors realized that they did not bring those materials into the building with them, so they called the police. The materials had the “appearance and characteristics of a pipe bomb,” according to a statement on MIT’s emergency information website.
Investigators concluded that the suspicious objects were actually a “collection of harmless materials.”
New House is not occupied by students this summer, but nine people — GRTs who have apartments in the building — were evacuated when Cambridge police arrived on the scene at 7:40. Next House, which is also not currently occupied by undergraduates, was evacuated at around 11 a.m.
Cambridge’s bomb squad and fire department used a high-pressure water cannon to “disrupt” the materials, in case they were dangerous. The first disruption occurred at around 9:50 a.m., a second at around 11:30 a.m., and a third at 12:40 p.m. Before the second disruption, media in the Westgate parking lot were asked to move further away from New House, to the lawn in front of Tang Hall.
“MIT is grateful to the responding federal, state, and local agencies for investigating and ensuring the safety of the campus. The Institute also thanks the community for heeding requests to stay clear of the area while emergency officials did their work,” read a statement on the emergency website.
Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were present, in addition to FBI. Top MIT officials, including Chancellor W. Eric L. Grimson and Vice President for Institute Affairs Kirk D. Kolenbrander, were on-scene.
A hazardous materials decontamination tent was also set up in the Westgate parking lot, but it was not used.
MIT’s emergency information website can be accessed at http://emergency.mit.net.