Dogs can smell PETN: Mechem

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Mechem, the Denel subsidiary, says reports that explosive detection dogs cannot smell PETN (Pentaerythritol Tetra Nitrate) are inaccurate. The company that specialises in demining and explosives detection made the comment after some media reports made the claim following the intercept of parcel bombs in Dubai and Britain airfreighted from Yemen.

“According to some media reports, PETN cannot be detected by explosive detection dogs. This is incorrect and inaccurate,” Mechem says in a statement. “There is no question” added Hannes Slabbert of Mechem “that our canine teams are able to pick up even minute quantities of explosive material, including PETN…”

He adds Mechem-trained dog teams deployed by Professional Risk & Asset Management, a leading air cargo security consultant in South Africa, to check air cargo in terms of civil aviation regulations “are trained on pure PETN as well as PETN when contained in other explosive materials.”

Reuters notes governments, airlines and aviation authorities around the world have been reviewing security since US-bound parcel bombs sent by air from Yemen were intercepted in Dubai and Britain at the end of last week. The bombs were concealed in printer cartridges dispatched from Yemen and addressed to synagogues in Chicago, although US and British officials say the devices appeared designed to be detonated in flight.



Air cargo firms are already warning that the cost of scanning every item of cargo would be prohibitive. Some see parallels to previous arguments over the scanning of sea containers, an obvious means of transporting weapons: ultimately it was deemed impractical to scan or examine every single one. Consumers around the world have got used to easy deliveries of goods ordered over the Internet, and a couple of failed attacks will not change that.