Sublette County Unified Fire was dispatched to the Museum of the Mountain Man in Pinedale Wednesday to safely collect and dispose of a small quantity of concentrated nitric acid stored in an antique bottle. The bottle was presumably donated to the museum and was stored in the basement.
When museum staff discovered the bottle, they contacted the fire department to identify and dispose of the hazardous material it contained. Nitric acid is a colorless liquid acid used in the manufacture of substances including fertilizers, dye, explosives, and many other chemicals.
Nitric acid can also cause severe health hazards – it is very toxic by inhalation, and it is very corrosive through skin contact. The antique bottle appears to have been from the 1870s to 1890s and stored for an unknown time at the museum.
Because the antique container was crystalized and potentially unstable and reactive, the Sweetwater Bomb Squad who were aiding Sublette County Fire used a bomb robot to open the container.
Due to the instability of the product, specialists from the Regional Response Team and Sweetwater Bomb Squad determined the safest way to dispose of the nitric acid was to detonate it in the parking lot of the museum rather than attempt to transport it.