Look what was found in the mail!
In July 2018, during a routine X-ray examination of incoming parcels, a mail sorting centre serving the National Capital Region (NCR) discovered a suspicious object which necessitated the location to cease operations and to shut down immediately.
The mail centre was evacuated and emergency responders were contacted, resulting in three separate police departments responding to investigate this incident. As opening the suspicious package (which resembled an explosive device) was not an option upon initial contact, there was no way to immediately determine if the item posed an actual threat. The appropriate protocol was to treat it as a bomb threat.
The first picture is what the X-ray operator saw which caused alarm.
The second picture shows the actual item – a grenade simulator which had been mailed, with only good intentions, from a base to an item manager. Although it contained no hazardous components, there was no way to establish, at first sight, if this device constituted a threat.
So what was the problem?
Not only did this create a security incident brought on by a perceived threat to the safety of personnel, such products are not permitted in the mail under any circumstances, whether through Canada Post, the Canadian Armed Forces Postal System or local internal mail systems.
Canada Post’s Non-mailable Matter regulations state, under item 3, Prohibited and Controlled Items:
3.1 Replica or inert munitions
“Replica or inert munitions are non-mailable, as well as other devices that simulate explosive devices or munitions, including replica or inert grenades or other simulated military munitions, whether or not such items are for display purposes.”
Although no one was physically harmed in the course of this incident, it created unnecessary psychological stress for on-site staff, and triggered an emergency response which could have been completely avoided had the proper protocol been followed regarding the transmission of this item.
If you need to send a replica or inert munition, please consult with your local post office or materiel transit organization (usually co-located with supply) for approved procedures.
If it is munition or looks like a munition, do not send it by mail!
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