Who the hell just leaves sterilizers at train stations?

Pressure cooker at Bradford station

Photo by MBTA.

Updated with info from the MBTA, including the fact the device was a sterilizer, not a pressure cooker.

The Bradford stop on the Haverhill Line was shut for two hours today as police investigated what turned out to be a sterilizing device just sitting there. A spokesman says:

There was no explosive device found. It was a sterilizer type device, not a pressure cooker, and was empty. It was placed near the trash bin. The MBTA Transit Police Explosive Detection Unit responded to the scene and inspected the item to make sure it was safe. Transit Police worked in conjunction with Haverhill Police and Fire Depts. Two commuter rail trains were affected by the incident that lasted approximately 2 hours.



    Free tagging: 



    It does look like trash, but why is that trash right there? It seems really out of place.

    OTOH, it's the first of the month, so maybe Kayvon whatshisface's old roommates are moving and had to ditch his surplus "art" supplies.

    ETA: and I love the prominent placement of the pressure cooker right under the sign saying "No Household Trash."

    Sure it is

    My grandmother had one just like the one that caused the concerns for canning. The dinky model your cat is using probably wouldn't even hold a single quart jar, although I'm sure it's great for dinner.

    BTW: cute cat.

    The Crown Jewel Of My Revere Ware Collection

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    After moving to Oak Island (which is technically part of Revere) I though it appropriate to start collecting Revere Ware. The famous, copper-bottomed cookware was a familiar sight in many post WWII households. Unfortunately, quality was compromised in later years, so the older pieces; heavier, and with more copper cladding; are most desirable.

    There's always a selection of Revere Ware items for sale at the Lynnflea market on the Lynnway in Lynn (Saturdays and Sundays). For a few dollars you can buy vintage, made-in-the-USA cookware that outperforms new, imported products sold in regular stores for many times that price.

    My pressure cooker, Pauline, is built like a battleship! Her 1948 design, with its unique and ingenious locking and pressure control features, still works perfectly today. I was thrilled to find her at the Lynnflea market, for five dollars! Yes, she's only a petite four quarts, but that enables Pauline to get up to steam very fast, while using less energy, to make enormously delicious food.

    Pressure cooking is great, especially in the summer because you don't need a lot of heat and it cooks very quickly. You do need to know what you're doing however! It's not complicated, but you must follow certain rules. Here's a site that's a very good reference, with times and instructions for many kind of foods:

    I'd never cast aspersions on Pauline

    I'm just saying, the bigger models were better for canning, and they were pretty common in some parts of the country.

    My Pawpaw (my mother's stepfather, and the only grandfather I ever knew) planted half an acre of tomatoes every summer in La Marque, TX. Tilled the whole thing with a hand tiller. He sold them from a stand in the driveway for 25¢/lb. They also had berries and peaches. When Pawpaw would go for his nap, he'd leave an old cigar box on the table with a sign that said "honor" on it. I'm told he almost never came up short.

    Grandmom used to put up a few hundred quarts (that's not a typo) of blanched tomatoes and fruit preserves every summer because they didn't want to waste what they couldn't sell before it spoiled. She had a mammoth pressure cooker that handled a bunch of quart jars at once (maybe a dozen and a half) to handle the throughput. It was slow, but effective. I think they sold the canned goods off during the fall and winter. I know we never drove home from La Marque without coming home with a station wagon full of tomatoes and preserves.

    All of that was sold off when Grandmom sold the house to a developer and moved to an apartment in Brownsville near my parents. I hope whoever got that canner has gotten good use from it.

    Low-acid foods require

    Low-acid foods require pressure canning, but high-acid food like tomatoes can be canned with the hot water bath method (i.e. boiling the sealed jar in water for 10 minutes or so.) I'm curious why your grandmother pressure canned tomatoes.

    Not sure

    She was hyper-paranoid about germs, spoilage and general safety, as were a lot of people of her generation whom I've known (born pre-WWI). Minor cuts and scrapes got Mercurichrome, not soap and water. Meat was always cooked at least medium-well. Don't even *stand* next to the telephone during a lightening storm, because a boy in Bastrop was killed one time when a bolt hit the telephone pole near his house. Etc.

    OTOH, she made her own cheese in the back yard, hanging it in a sack from the clothes line to drip out, and lived to tell the tale. People are funny sometimes, what they worry about.

    It's also possible that she just lived with too many engineers (both of her husbands and my uncle Henry all worked for the oil companies in Texas City) not to use Technology!™ whenever it was available.

    Portable steam sterilizers (or autoclaves)

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    They are basically identical to pressure cookers. Sealed heat with an amount of water to turn to steam which expands creating pressure. They are often built to a heavier duty (often double-jacketed) and usually reach greater pressures. Unlike bigger autoclaves, these don't have atmospheric cycling and usually don't have a method for creating an air vacuum in the interior for the better guarantee of sterility. They are more simple as sterilizers go and are like a halfway point between a pressure cooker and an industrial autoclave.

    The greater pressure tolerance actually makes them better for bomb making than pressure cookers because it means a bigger bomb can be stored inside before the exterior fails and releases that much more energy in a concentrated blast (with heavier shrapnel as a bonus).

    A mushroom media prep autoclave

    ..used by a hell roommate I had in NH was similar. He had a psilocybin operation ineptly run in this place where I was rooming.

    Was I ever psyched to get out of there.

    That makes sense.

    And urban areas around here have scrap guys roaming looking for curbside metal.

    I set up a spot outside my building with a few scrappers where I put metal stuff and it's gone in a few days.

    Like they found the owner who put it there?

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    Or is tht just the description that the intern gave them? Because the internet searches are rife with tattoo parlors asking if these sterilizers are good enough to get by or not instead of paying for a more professional/permanent solution.

    Yankee Pot Roast

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    Oh so THATs where I put the cooker that had my Yankee Pot Roast in it..

    I was wondering where it went...

    (I'm kidding!)

    So, now that pressure cookers

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    So, now that pressure cookers have transformed from eminently useful kitchen tools to devices of mass destruction, how exactly should someone dispose of one without some "see something say something" busybody dialing 911?

    Leave out with the trash by the curb?
    Place in a garbage bag and put inside a trash bin?

    I believe it is less about being

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    a "paranoid busybody" than nervousness because, oh, two were used in a local bombing that killed and injured many people.

    And I think even the most average of the paranoid busybodies would probably know how a pressure cooker works.

    Funny how no one gets

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    Funny how no one gets paranoid about the abandoned -- I mean parked -- gasoline-laden vehicles all about them. Because we know that cars have never been used in attacks anywhere, right?

    Not a Major Station

    That station is pretty much in the 495 area ... almost into New Hampshire. Not a high traffic place.

    That is, however, a seriously large pressure cooker.

    Either somebody didn't want to take to the dump, or they are being provocative, or they could (in a totally paranoid scenario) be trying to drum up work for militarized police forces.

    I wonder if the cleaners/trash emptying people found it and reported it?


    If the lid is off, it's just a pot. That shouldn't ping anybody's overactive imagination.

    Location Location Location

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    Except who the hell throws out a pressure cooker at a train station. Dunkin donuts cups yeah; copies of the Metro, OK. Appliances??

    No you should not panic if you see one in someone's household trash. But someone's household trash should not be there.

    Metal pots are generally not

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    Metal pots are generally not accepted for curbside recycling.

    Cambridge explicitly says so. Boston doesn't mention them, but they're not on the list of acceptable materials.

    You can bring them to a scrap metal collection bin at some DPW yards.

    You first!

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    Go smash it in.

    We'll be over there, behind that solid wall.

    Scream if you need anything.

    Dude , that was in response

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    Dude , that was in response to how to put one out, not that particular one. Once the thing comes out into the public domain, it belongs to public safety. I'll take care of my stuff , you worry about yours. Most likely, I have been junking before you were born.

    Spot metal value has done wonders.

    There are a bunch of scrap gatherers roaming cities with pick up trucks hauling Doctor Seuss loads of metal jumble gathered from urban streets.

    You offered a fine suggestion to make it obviously scrap but reading comprehension isn't what it was back when there were attention spans.

    It's like a version of removing refrigerator doors to keep kids from suffocating in them.

    I'll allow it

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    Not only is there no explanation for why you would need to throw that away at a public transit stop instead of oh...anywhere else in the world.

    But that has to be the biggest pressure vessel you can buy and looks much more like it's intended for large commercial applications, not home use...which raises even more eyebrows as to why a commercial pressure vessel would need to be thrown away in front of a train station by a trash can meant for simple waste (this isn't next to a dumpster or anything either).

    I gotta believe this was someone's stupid attempt to be a provocateur by deliberately throwing out something extremely publicly at a place they knew would garner a response just because they had to dump it and har har wouldn't it be funny if it made the news.

    I hope video/evidence allows police to ask some questions about this one.

    So you're telling me that if

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    So you're telling me that if an industrial-sized sink or a large CRT screen were left instead, that the bomb squad would be the right move because they are both out of place at a commuter rail stop?

    Or is the continued OMG pressure cooker someone is about to bomb us must call police I can't think of any good reason someone would possess a pressure cooker mentality that has seemingly afflicted way too many citizens the past year and a half?

    Bombs require pressure for efficacy

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    If you wanted to bomb a sink you'd find the efficacy pretty low since we could both look into it and see the bomb as well as not contain any of the pressure reducing the efficacy. The same with a TV screen. Form is key to bomb making effectively.

    If you recall, I argued that the rice cooker the psych patient danced down Boylston with earlier this year was not a hoax device because even if it was full of screws, exploding it would just take the top off of it in a flash of light and fire. Someone might get a screw that falls back down on them to do some damage. Of course, with enough explosive all things are possible, I guess, but then we get back to the question of anything could be a bomb.

    However, with less explosive but greater pressure retention (but not too much as to contain the entire explosion), you can turn a small bang into a large problem. By bottling up the force until you reach your retention threshold, you can release all of the energy at once and in all directions...a real "bomb". A pressure cooker or a portable steam sterilizer is as close to the original bombs fired out of mortars from times colonial as you can get. A heavy metal jacket around an explosion source. In ye old days, you used a fuse and suffered a bit of loss of power from the fuse hole. A pressure cooker has no such loss even.

    Twenty years ago, we would have only thought a sealed pipe segment might be a bomb, but a pressure cooker's the exact same thing only writ large. And this one even larger still. So, if you'd take something that looked like a PVC pipe bomb seriously, then why wouldn't you take this just as seriously?

    Also, nobody "possessed" this. It was in fact discarded at a train station of all places no less. An abandoned giant potential pipe bomb at a mass transit facility...how is that not a red flag? I'm also the guy that said a bag of beeping and blinking in a bush is not a bomb. Because bombs don't beep and blink like Robby the Robot just waiting for the perfect victim. Bombs are discarded in a place and fashion to be ignored in a crowd and then boom. The *only* thing that makes me think this was done for attention and not as a bomb (or MAYBE innocently enough just discarded there for who knows what innocuous reasoning) is that there's no crowd...but then again, it's almost the evening commute home too.

    I'll repeat myself: vehicles

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    I'll repeat myself: vehicles were used in the two largest terrorist attacks on US soil before 9/11/01. Isn't it outrageous that passengers are allowed to leave their cars unattended within yards of any transit facility?

    You and I know that before last year, no one would have batted an eye over this discarded piece of trash. Yet is this trash any more likely to be a bomb today than 16 months ago?

    Yes, yes...

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    And we even let people carry guns. Won't someone think of the children?

    Clearly the every day occurrences we tolerate are far too dangerous and we should never let anything happen ever again that could possibly be a weapon ever.

    Maybe you should take a lesson from Richard Dawkins. If you can't tell the difference between the logic behind leaving cars parked in a parking lot alone and abandoned closed pressure vessels at a mass transit station platform, then you should go away and learn how to think.

    If you park a UHaul on the sidewalk outside the federal reserve building downtown, you're going to quickly find out that we don't just let you park any car anywhere either.

    Is this Bradford mass transit

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    Is this Bradford mass transit station at 11 in the morning teeming with passengers like Times Square or Grand Central? I like trains so maybe I should visit sometime.

    Stop calling a low-ridership stop that sees a train pass through every hour or two a "mass transit station".

    Infinitely more spots where residents leave their trash curbside see more people pass by than this platform sees each day. Are you telling me then that if the owner of this device had merely left it curbside with his trash in a busy neighborhood that the bomb squad should have been called in too?

    Nice strawman argument comparing a piece of trash next to a trash bin beside a minor commuter rail platform with a truck abandoned on a sidewalk beside a large office building. You're not helping your case.

    Yeah I'm betting mushrooms.

    You have to audoclave the agar or whatever is used for the mycelium to grow. It's all about sterility.

    It isn't as conspicuous as growing weed indoors but it wants a low budget chain of sterility method and big ones let you seed more agar/whatever medium.

    The number of times

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    Parts of Commonwealth Avenue near Kenmore Square were closed pre-Marathon because someone threw out a VCR or CRT-TV in a heap on the curb such that its wires were exposed...I can't even count.

    Shuffle over to the decidedly unremarkable Allston-Brighton, and no one blinks at falling apart electronics strewn about hither and yon.

    The location of the device

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    The location of the device would raise an antenna , it's out of place, not by someone's household trash . The device is in the anarchist's beginner book of bomb fabrication. Even if it were harmless there , there is potential liability if it isn't harmless. In the wrong hands, it is a stupid claymore.Perhaps you recall the story of these two guys and unintended consequences,


    Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar

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    It could be that since this place seems to be basically in the middle of nowhere, that the person discarding it thought this might be the quickest and most logical place for it to be picked up, rather than leaving it curbside in a residential neighborhood or in front of a business.