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Conoco: Device at Anchorage airport for avalanches

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The employer of a man whose carry-on bag was found to contain a small explosive device at the Anchorage airport said Monday he was carrying avalanche-control equipment.

The device triggered an hour-long shutdown of security screening at the airport Sunday afternoon.

A statement issued Monday by ConocoPhillips Alaska said the device was for avalanche control and there was no ill will intended.

Conoco spokeswoman Amy Burnett told The Anchorage Daily News she could not release any personal information about the passenger or say if he faces any criminal charges.

Shared Services, a co-venture between Conoco and BP, transports more than 20,000 employees and contract workers between Anchorage, Fairbanks and the North Slope every month, Burnett said.

Airport officials said they didn't have any information about criminal charges either.

The FBI in Anchorage said it plans to release a statement on Tuesday.

Anchorage airport police had downplayed the device.

Airport police and fire Chief Jesse Davis said Transportation Security Administration agents found the small explosive in the luggage of a man headed for a North Slope flight for oil company workers Sunday afternoon.

Screeners could tell the device lacked a detonator, so officials chose not to make an announcement over the public address system, said John Parrott, the airport's manager.

"We felt we had taken prudent actions. Making announcements over the PA system is difficult to do and not just scare people," Parrott said.

All Shared Services aircraft received an "in-depth search" as an added precaution after the suspicious item turned up Sunday, Burnett said.

"ConocoPhillips, operator of Shared Services, is pleased that the security screening system worked exactly as it should and detected the device before it was brought onboard the aircraft," she said.

Police downplayed the incident, saying the public was never in danger, although Davis also said he didn't know of any avalanche dangers on the North Slope.

Airport operations officer Sharon Long said agents cleared a 300-foot radius around the security checkpoint when they found the explosive. A bomb squad took it away.

"It appeared based on their knowledge that it wasn't an immediate danger to the traveling public," Davis said.

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