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Author: Subject: FBI Call: Need to Vent
VSEPR_VOID
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[*] posted on 22-10-2018 at 12:35
FBI Call: Need to Vent


I think that most of us hear about other members of SM getting investigated for their hobby. Today one of those people was me. I got a call from an agent with the FBI who is connected with an anti-terro unit. My requisition of acetone and 3% hydrogen peroxide was noticed and they had questions.

I am not doing anything wrong. I do not make bombs, mortars, or any explosive devices. I do not manufacture elicit substances. But I am sure that if they thought I was my life would be made difficult and my lab raided. That thought scares me. I am sure that if every single detail of my life was checked, just like everyone else, they could fine something to make a big mess over:A incorrect forum for one of the licence I hold, some time I did not pay tax after a garage sale, or some political comment from 4 years ago.

Another aspect that shocks me is that it was from hydrogen peroxide and acetone. Strategically thinking its silly to investigate such things. Everyone has those two items in there house and I did not requisition tons of it. In addition the complaint was from months ago. In retrospect, they suspected me of being a potential terrorist for owning common chemicals, in normal amounts, several months ago. Its ridiculous. Its a joke.

As a side note: The FBI agent was very polite and reasonable. I have not complaint about the personnel, but it seems like the system is broken. If a good person can be singled out for a love of chemistry, we are all just waiting for our turn on the chopping block of national security.




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[*] posted on 22-10-2018 at 13:17


Why would you answer that phone call from unknown people? Did you know it was an agent before answering the call? Did the phone number show up on your phone?



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[*] posted on 22-10-2018 at 14:00


Quote: Originally posted by VSEPR_VOID  
My requisition of acetone and 3% hydrogen peroxide was noticed and they had questions.


What do you mean by that? That you bought these two things online? How did they find out?
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[*] posted on 22-10-2018 at 14:32


in au customs notify appropriate agency. i would imagine a similar procedure is in place elsewhere



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[*] posted on 22-10-2018 at 17:16


Well, technically this was an investigative success. Most normal people don't buy acetone and hydrogen peroxide together. Based on your purchase you were successfully identified as a person of interest, and as it turns out, you are an amateur chemist, not Betty Homemaker. What else can an amateur chemist do? Build bombs, of course!

Unfortunately, there aren't very many amateur chemists, but there are thankfully even fewer terrorist bomb-makers. It's unfortunate that the buying patterns of these two very different types of individuals can overlap at times. Try not to take it too personally. Hopefully from their short conversation with you, they were able to determine that you were no threat.

If they thought that you were doing something truly terrorism-related I don't think they would've called you on the phone, in my opinion. In fact, you would've had no clue that you were being investigated at all. And if they deemed you likely to be doing something significantly shady, once they got enough information about you and your associates, the first contact you'd have with them would be when a dozen masked guys with automatic weapons swarmed you as you left the grocery store some random day.

No one would know where you were being held, not even your lawyer. And your little cat would never be seen again.




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VSEPR_VOID
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[*] posted on 22-10-2018 at 18:21


Quote: Originally posted by fusso  
Why would you answer that phone call from unknown people? Did you know it was an agent before answering the call? Did the phone number show up on your phone?


I have family in law enforcement and they were notified out of processional courtesy. I also have some articles written about me for some science awards so that tipped him off too. He offered to come out yo my lab but I declined. Liters of HCl and lots of glassware tends to scare people, even if most of the times its for making copper salts.

I made sure to ask if I had to worry about a dozen masked guys with automatic weapons swatting me, he said not to. Still, that sort of thing terrifies me. I could not imagine being black bagged and taken away from my lab, books, and work. Even worse would be if they found some reason to charge me for some little technicality like, "you had 3 grams of wet picric acid, which is over the legal limit of 2.5".

I make some energetic compounds: Picric acid, tetramine copper (II) nitrate, hexamine diperchlorate, but never have made bombs or anything very dangerous. I am sure that other SM members have made these or flash powders before. We think of them as mundane little pyrotechnics one makes for fun and then never touches again, but to the public the seem like an exotic hazard.




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[*] posted on 22-10-2018 at 20:10


There are all sorts of little hang ups in the law.

Manufacture of explosives without a license. - generally a local offense unless selling or transporting.
Improper storage of explosives. - always a federal offense but may be a local offense as well.
Depending on locality, they can also get you on zoning violations as well.

I was once threatend with 10 years in jail over a glass bottle of acetone.
Improper storage of a flammable liquid in a multifamily dwelling.
Literally a bottle of fingernail polish remover belonging to my girlfriend.
All over a noise complaint from the cop next door.
I was not doing chemistry outside of class at the time.

Consult a lawyer, verify everything is properly labelled and stored.
Consult the magazine requirements on explosives.
It is almost guaranteed you are out of compliance.
Note specifically that picric acid is considered an explosive in the US rather wet or not unless you can prove it is for other uses. Also any nitrate or perchlorate compound or mixture that will explode is considered an explosive unless specifically for use in rocket motors.

PS. attached current ATF explosives list.

[Edited on 23-10-2018 by macckone]

Attachment: notice-943_0.pdf (40kB)
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[*] posted on 22-10-2018 at 20:39


Did you buy hydrogen peroxide and acetone at the same time, at the same store? Because if you did, I'd say you were asking for it. It's not a matter of what the chemicals are, but the context in which they were bought. If that's what you did, the context looks shady indeed. I've bought large amounts of each of those chemicals over the past few years, but never at the same time. Never had any problems.



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[*] posted on 22-10-2018 at 21:55


Quote: Originally posted by macckone  

I was once threatend with 10 years in jail over a glass bottle of acetone.


Can you elaborate on this? I've heard about the "acetone in a glass bottle" thing before but I don't understand what this is about.

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[*] posted on 22-10-2018 at 23:40


Quote: Originally posted by macckone  
There are all sorts of little hang ups in the law.

Manufacture of explosives without a license. - generally a local offense unless selling or transporting.
Improper storage of explosives. - always a federal offense but may be a local offense as well.
Depending on locality, they can also get you on zoning violations as well.

I was once threatend with 10 years in jail over a glass bottle of acetone.
Improper storage of a flammable liquid in a multifamily dwelling.
Literally a bottle of fingernail polish remover belonging to my girlfriend.
All over a noise complaint from the cop next door.
I was not doing chemistry outside of class at the time.

Consult a lawyer, verify everything is properly labelled and stored.
Consult the magazine requirements on explosives.
It is almost guaranteed you are out of compliance.
Note specifically that picric acid is considered an explosive in the US rather wet or not unless you can prove it is for other uses. Also any nitrate or perchlorate compound or mixture that will explode is considered an explosive unless specifically for use in rocket motors.

PS. attached current ATF explosives list.

[Edited on 23-10-2018 by macckone]


Its insane you can get in trouble for having urea nitrate. Its insane the any of those substances are considered criminal.

I do not feel like I live in a free country anymore, I feel like a hostage. Its not right that amateur scientists are harassed because of bottles of acetone and picric acid. Picric acid was used as a dye for 100 years before anyone found out it could be made into explosives.

I grantee that 90% of the population at this point commits some sort of felony in the course of everyday life. Make a potato gun, ATF swats you for manufacturing mortars. Have a collection of elements, you must be manufacturing chemical weapons.




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[*] posted on 23-10-2018 at 00:44


On the contrary, in this day and age, the authoritites are not doing their job if they do not investigate any order of significant amounts (Liters) of hydrogen peroxide and acetone together.
It apparatenly does in your country. Their investigation also seems entirely reasonable so far.

Indeed, probably none of us lives in a really free country. Lets hope, however, that we retain enough of the remaining freedom in the future to allow for amateur chemistry to exist.




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[*] posted on 23-10-2018 at 04:59


Quote: Originally posted by WGTR  
Well, technically this was an investigative success. Most normal people don't buy acetone and hydrogen peroxide together.


So why would they put it on the same shelf at the hardware store litterally for decades ?
Yes, it's quite normal to get Acetone, H2O2 and whatever if you have a hobby that requires them. I never mixed the two, you can see my opinion on TATP all over the forum and yet I've had - and still have - a bottle of Acetone and another one of H2O2 under the kitchen sink.
Why ? Because I've been doing that for DECADES before Breivik.
I'd spend the afternoon thinking about all the uses of acetone. H2O2 a little less. Interestingly I've used it by the gallons to sterilize growing media ages ago. So yeah, I do have perfectly legit uses for both and I'm not a yearling that just discovered TATP.
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[*] posted on 23-10-2018 at 05:24


Quote: Originally posted by VSEPR_VOID  
I do not feel like I live in a free country anymore, I feel like a hostage. Its not right that amateur scientists are harassed because of bottles of acetone and picric acid. Picric acid was used as a dye for 100 years before anyone found out it could be made into explosives.
Oh, boo hoo. You got one visit, they let you go without even searching your lab, and you're still free to get back on the internet and whine about it. A hostage? Really?! Taking this attitude where we act victimized and defensive over practically nothing doesn't help the case of amateur chemists at all. It's quite detrimental. Oh, and since you ignored my last question, I'm assuming you did buy both of the items at the same time.

Quote: Originally posted by Herr Haber  
Quote: Originally posted by WGTR  
Well, technically this was an investigative success. Most normal people don't buy acetone and hydrogen peroxide together.
So why would they put it on the same shelf at the hardware store litterally for decades ?
Um, no. Have you really seen hydrogen peroxide and acetone "literally" on the same shelf? No hardware store I've been to has ever put them in the same section, because their uses are entirely disparate, as they should be in the lab as well! This is just more dishonest confabulation that makes the situation seem more dramatic and unfair than it is.

[Edited on 10-23-2018 by Texium (zts16)]




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[*] posted on 23-10-2018 at 07:50


Quote: Originally posted by Texium (zts16)  
Um, no. Have you really seen hydrogen peroxide and acetone "literally" on the same shelf? No hardware store I've been to has ever put them in the same section, because their uses are entirely disparate, as they should be in the lab as well! This is just more dishonest confabulation that makes the situation seem more dramatic and unfair than it is.

[Edited on 10-23-2018 by Texium (zts16)]


Um, yes.
I said the exact opposite. Would you be calling me a liar ?
Why would I have filed not one but two complaints over the years at customer service. Obviously not since the last 5 years...
Last time I mentioned it, they even pointed me to the automatic fire extinguishers behind the bottles.

Acetone, white spirit, HCL, H202 have always been in the same section of every hardware store I visited.

I wonder why someone would put paint solvents and a chemical to bleach wood in the same section. Maybe trying to make life easier for carpenters and cabinet makers ?
(that must be why the brushes and nut based dye are also in the same section...)


It was a nice first chat ZTS, I really really like being called dishonest. :mad:
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[*] posted on 23-10-2018 at 08:35


I'm sorry- I wouldn't have expected stores to actually stock all of those chemicals together. In my experience I've seen solvents like acetone, DCM, toluene, etc in the paint section, while things like conc. peroxide, HCl, TCCA, are on the other side of the store with the pool stuff, and sulfuric acid and sodium hydroxide are in another aisle with the plumbing supplies. I assume that hardware stores throughout the US are similarly stocked, though I suppose this may not be the case in other countries.

In your first post it sure didn't sound like you were against putting the two chemicals on the same shelf. It sounded like you were defending the practice, so how would I have known that you filed complaints? My only point was that stocking acetone and peroxide on the same shelf is dumb, and as far as I knew up until now, I assumed that it was not something that stores actually did.

Really sorry about the misunderstanding.




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VSEPR_VOID
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[*] posted on 23-10-2018 at 09:09


Quote: Originally posted by Texium (zts16)  
I'm sorry- I wouldn't have expected stores to actually stock all of those chemicals together. In my experience I've seen solvents like acetone, DCM, toluene, etc in the paint section, while things like conc. peroxide, HCl, TCCA, are on the other side of the store with the pool stuff, and sulfuric acid and sodium hydroxide are in another aisle with the plumbing supplies. I assume that hardware stores throughout the US are similarly stocked, though I suppose this may not be the case in other countries.

In your first post it sure didn't sound like you were against putting the two chemicals on the same shelf. It sounded like you were defending the practice, so how would I have known that you filed complaints? My only point was that stocking acetone and peroxide on the same shelf is dumb, and as far as I knew up until now, I assumed that it was not something that stores actually did.

Really sorry about the misunderstanding.


They are stocked together on the same shelf at the dollar store near me. I dont think anything of buying them together, because they are normal chemicals I plan to use legally.




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[*] posted on 23-10-2018 at 10:15


I stand by my statement that that's a poor decision.



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[*] posted on 23-10-2018 at 11:54


Bump for acetone in glass bottle explanation.
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[*] posted on 23-10-2018 at 12:16


Quote: Originally posted by Texium (zts16)  
Did you buy hydrogen peroxide and acetone at the same time, at the same store? Because if you did, I'd say you were asking for it. It's not a matter of what the chemicals are, but the context in which they were bought. If that's what you did, the context looks shady indeed. I've bought large amounts of each of those chemicals over the past few years, but never at the same time. Never had any problems.



Bought them both together at the Dollar General in Lewisville, Arkansas. Multiple bottles of each. They don't even bat an eye. At least you dont have the FDLE breathing down your neck ( I gather you are a Southern Peninsular state resident from your pinterest account)




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[*] posted on 23-10-2018 at 12:23


Buying from a hardware store selling acetone / hydrogen peroxide from one shelf? No problem... Ordering the two nowadays from any online shop where the FBI had the power to make them report it... Not so smart.
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[*] posted on 23-10-2018 at 19:07


Quote:

I do not feel like I live in a free country anymore


Well it was about time because the USA was never a free country.

You live in a police state. Think about that.

---------

as to people commenting on the timing of the purchases and whether there's a problem buying both acetone and h2o2 at the same time? What the hell? Are you seriously suggesting that any real 'terrist' would be stupid enough to do that? And implying that if you buy the two compounds at different times then you won't be bothered? Which is another clear absurdity if you follow the 'logic' of the government criminals, sorry 'public servants'.


[Edited on 24-10-2018 by learningChem]
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[*] posted on 23-10-2018 at 19:48


Mr Rogers:

The fire code prohibits the storage of more than a certain amount of a flammable liquid in a glass container in a multifamily dwelling. Fingernail polish remover (aka acetone) was sold in glass bottles. I don't think they sell it that way anymore. I only see it in plastic or metal. I don't remember what the exact amount was. It is in the fire code, which I have on my laptop somewhere. There are all kinds of little rules that carry serious jail time if they enforce them. I beat the charge but not the ride.

There are exceptions for food and beverages. But otherwise you can't store flammable liquids in glass bottles over a certain size. And there are also limits on the total in plastic and metal containers as well. Some of this can be adjusted higher if you have a certified flammable liquid storage cabinet.

The NFPA has a complete set of codes for storing flammable liquids and chemicals and if you aren't following it, you can be charged with criminal violations.
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[*] posted on 23-10-2018 at 20:16


NFPA 30 FAQ - last question is about commercial laboratories.

NFPA 45 - Laboratories

Table 10.1.4 storage in glass containers:
Class 1A liquids are limited to 500ml
Class 1B liquids are limited to 1L
Class 1C liquids are limited to 4L
Class 2 liquids are limited to 4L
Class 3 liquids are limited to 20L

There is an exception for plastic coated glass bottles up to 4L where purity is critical.

Under NFPA 30:
Medicine and beverages are exempted up to 5L.
Certain products packaged for consumer goods are also exempted.
class 1C and 2 are raised to 5L.

There are also requirements for flammable solids and maximum amounts.

Attachment: 30_A2017_FLC-FUN_FD_CIStatements.pdf (618kB)
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[*] posted on 23-10-2018 at 21:12


Macckone, thank you.

I'm wondering where the 10 years in prison comes from? These seem like commerical/occupational requirements.

The acetone I buy comes in glass bottles. I'm wondering if I'm violating the law by not transferring the acetone immediately into other containers???

The common wisdom is to keep your chemicals in the original containers. This is why I'm very confused by this.

I think glass is ideal for storing acetone. I pay extra for getting it glass bottles.


[Edited on 24-10-2018 by Mr. Rogers]
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[*] posted on 24-10-2018 at 00:16


I think that containers are chosen for cost and and safe shipping more than long term storage,
e.g. I have received
. conc. sulphuric acid in hdpe bottles, that I transferred to glass bottles,
. many dry chemicals in PE zip-lock bags, that I transferred to HDPE or glass bottles

if I just bought sufficient chemicals for well planned experiments then the shipping containers could be used as storage containers
but as I always buy in (sometimes massive) excess for stock and 'economy',
and I rarely stick to my plans,
I've transferred quite a few chemicals from their shipping containers to containers more suitable for long term storage.

... starting chemistry means starting to collect containers :D


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