Bomb Scare at Bayer Plant Halts Seventh Street Traffic

By Richard Brenneman
Tuesday August 12, 2008 - 05:38:00 PM

A bomb scare forced evacuation of Bayer employees in West Berkeley Wednesday morning, ending only after the Berkeley bomb squad blasted a suspicious suitcase with water and found nothing but papers inside. 

Department spokesperson Sgt. Mary Kusmiss said a Bayer security guard called police at 10:03 a.m. after a report of the case, which was left near the base of a light pole on Seventh and Parker Streets. 

“Bayer security evacuated several buildings closest to the case,” Sgt. Kusmiss said, and Berkeley officers blocked off Seventh Street in both directions while three members of the explosive ordinance detail donned their bomb suits and x-rayed the suitcase. 

Even though the x-rays didn’t indicate the presence of an explosive device, officers used a high-pressure water device to “disrupt” the case and its contents. 

“We don’t like to take any chances, and Bayer has some controversy in its history,” Sgt. Kusmiss said. 

Once the water had done its job, officers “determined there was no explosive material,” she said. 

Traffic was resumed as officers cleared the scene at 1:41 a.m. and Bayer employees were allowed to return to their jobs.