Tweeting Armageddon

Ok, it wasn’t really armageddon, but the twitter feed from today’s port incident was priceless.

It began with a few tweets by @SFriedScientist

SFriedScientist – Morehead Port is closed due to nine containers being punctured; inside are highly explosive materials know as PETN.

SFriedScientist – Why in the hell are there nine containers of pentaerythritol tetranitrate sitting in my port?

SFriedScientist – and for that matter how the hell did they get left in a position for nine of them to be punctured?

SFriedScientist – Pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN) is one of the most powerful high explosives known, with a relative effectiveness factor of 1.66.

SFriedScientist – The XTX8003 extrudable explosive, used in the W68 and W76 nuclear warheads, is a mixture of 80% PETN and 20% of Sylgard 182

@KZelnio responded:

KZelnio – if I don’t tweet again by end of the day, it was great getting to know all of you and reading your posts. Good luck in life keep swimming!

KZelnio – Downtown Morehead has been evacuated and roads closed off, we are only a few miles away from the port at the marine lab

KZelnio – I hope my wife and kids are far enough away from any potential blast. If I don’t make it out Linda I’ve always loved you more than anything

@WhySharksMatter chimes in:

WhySharksMatter – At least [you’re in] the sturdiest building in North Carolina, and by sturdiest, I mean ugliest

@SFriedScientist to @KZelnio:

SFriedScientist – whatsamatter, never been 9 containers of semtex away from your maker before?

KZelnio – Does nearly drowning in undertow count?

SFriedScientist – highly explosive undertow?

KZelnio – maybe that was the back of my head being scraped along the sandy bottom


BomaiBlat – 15 minutes to abandoning island, any bright idea as to where we might take refuge?

SFriedScientist – @kzelnio @BomaiBlat and me have evacuated the island along with the rest of the Duke Marine Lab

KZelnio – Our island is now being evacuated. Time to head to lunch!

KZelnio – Taking refuge @ royal james w @[email protected]. getting last beer b4 blowing up

SFriedScientist – Smile and say boom, the evacuees:

@KZelnio has a thought:

KZelnio – we should take @sfriedscientist’s boat to check out #mhcportfail

SFriedScientist – are you crazy? The only thing more likely to explode than the port is my boat

A realization:

SFriedScientist – In the shadow of disaster we gather at the pub and drink, isn’t this the plot to Shaun of the Dead? @kzelnio @BomaiBlat

The Blogosphere chimes in:

AbelPharmboy – @kzelnio @SFriedScientist @BomaiBlat evacuate Duke Marine Lab; are safe w/beer; no threat to ScienceOnline2010 #scio10

AbelPharmboy – When I heard of poss explosion in Morehead, I thought that @kzelnio or @SFriedScientist had a clogged blowoff tube from homebrew-gone-bad

pzmyers – Yeah, explosions add drama RT @BoraZ: Science bloggers evacuate Morehead area – no worries for SciOnline2010 #scio10

SFriedScientist – explosions tend to follow me and @kzelnio

NerdyChristie – Well, yes, blowing up would be bad. Try not to do that.

boraz – @pzmyers Ocean bloggers – that’s all a part of some plot of theirs to overshadow everyone else at #scio10 😉

oystersgarter – @SFriedScientist @BoraZ @pzmyers Plot? Of course there’s no plot. Only melodious song and Carhartts.

SFriedScientist – we don’t need a plot for that…

The sober truth:

SFriedScientist – Morehead city apocalypse causes @sfriedscientist to abandon his sober January

Some News:

SFriedScientist – Current reports indicate that of 9 55-gal drums, 1 was punctured by a forklift. Doomsday will probably not be today @abelpharmboy

SFriedScientist – The army of evacuees

And finally:

SFriedScientist – All is well in our little part of the world

eclecticechoes – @kzelnio @SFriedScientist What, y’all got bored down there? Next time maybe microwaving moon pies would be better!

Read AbelPharmboy’s assessment here: Science Blogger Evacuate Morehead City

I need a nap.

~Southern Fried Scientist


  1. BomaiCruz · January 12, 2010

    A near meeting our maker experience indeed, but good to see that people the Science Online Marine Lab team were prepared to go with full tanks. Sorry it was not the “clogged blowoff tube from homebrew-gone-bad,” as anticipated by AbelPharmboy but rest assured, if it was, they’d probably still be evacuating people………

  2. whysharksmatter · January 12, 2010

    I’m just happy that you all made it out alive. I’ve been worried sick all day.

    • Southern Fried Scientist · January 12, 2010

      I’d actually call this a win for disaster management. Quick response, rapid evacuation, incident managed. No panic, despite being totally upfront about what was in the containers. Gold star for the emergency management team.

      The best part of all this is that today was the day all our undergrads were driving down to the island.

    • whysharksmatter · January 12, 2010

      Was there a system in place to contact them while they were on their way?

  3. Shark Diver · January 12, 2010

    Glad to hear you’re still with us…did you ever find out what that much explosive was doing just sitting around?

    • Southern Fried Scientist · January 12, 2010

      Not sure but we’re a major military port – something like 2,000 tons of military hardware moves through the port every year, so 9 drums isn’t that surprising. When the initial reports were saying 9 containers, that raised some hackles.

  4. Glendon Mellow · January 12, 2010

    Forklifts don’t blow up people, people blow up people. And knowing is half the battle.

  5. WhySharksMatter · January 13, 2010

    Ok, I can visualize how one barrel was punctured by a forklift… but after you punctured one, wouldn’t you STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING before you puncture the other eight? I do not see how a forklift could puncture nine barrels simultaneously.

    • Southern Fried Scientist · January 13, 2010

      “Current reports indicate that of 9 55-gal drums, 1 was punctured by a forklift. Doomsday will probably not be today @abelpharmboy”

    • whysharksmatter · January 13, 2010

      Oh. Whoops.

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