By Tiffany Pelt - email
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) – A local company is fighting terrorism by blowing up buildings right here in the South Plains, testing to see how they would stand up to an attack. Using hundreds of pounds of explosives, KCBD NewsChannel 11 caught it all on video.
Reports of mysterious rumbles in South Lubbock brought our investigation about six miles west of Tahoka to a top secret testing range owned by Lubbock's Hurricane Test Laboratory, HTL.
It's a bomb testing area where engineers are using real bombs to make buildings safer against possible terrorist attacks. "This issue which has been around for a long time really kind of took on a new meaning after 9/11 because a lot of innocent people got killed," said Vinu Abraham, CEO of HTL.
Brought to Lubbock by Abraham in 2005 HTL is the only one of its kind in Texas, and one of very few in the entire country.
Each year they bring in high profile clients from all over the world wanting to test their building materials like windows and doors against explosives to see how bomb proof they are.
"These products go on all kinds of buildings. They'll go in embassies; they'll go in military barracks we have overseas. They go on big corporate buildings that an Al Qaeda terrorist might decide they want to target," said Abraham.
Abraham allowed KCBD to get exclusive access to one of the tests, using six hundred pounds of heavy explosives to blow up an overseas client's products. "It's going to simulate a pretty reasonable sized terrorist attack," said Abraham. "This is such an imprecise science trying to predict what a crazy person is going to do, there is nothing precise about that," he said.
Here's how it works, the clients products like glass windows are installed into four different steel structures provided by HTL. About 10 feet in width, the structures have foil witness panels across the back side so after the explosion, HTL employees can see if shards of glass or fragments are indented in the foil.
"What we're interested in, is the person in the room. Do they have enough of an opportunity to either get out of there alive, or not be injured to where they don't get to enjoy the rest of their life," said Abraham. "We clearly have the ability to protect that nowadays."
Standing a quarter of a mile away, KCBD caught the explosion on video with a huge cloud of smoke and dirt shooting into the air followed by a shockwave boom that stripped cotton off its stock.
Examining the damage of the explosion, the client's products passed the test. "If you were in this office and that explosion had just gone off, you've got a few nicks on your forearms, maybe a few nicks on your face, but you're headed home to your loved ones," said Abraham.
Each year HTL performs between five to 20 tests here in the South Plains, helping to protect people all over the world from threats of terror.
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