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ESTANCIA, N.M. (AP) — A retired Sandia Labs scientist was apparently busy building bombs and possibly a new type of explosive at a rural eastern New Mexico home before he died.
Torrance County Sheriff Heath White tells KOB-TV David O'Keefe, 81, spent his retirement on the outskirts of Estancia, 60 miles east of Albuquerque, continuing his work up until his death a few months ago.
"He was trying to make a new type of explosive, so he was experimenting with different chemicals and different compounds to make that explosive," White said.
O'Keefe's laboratory, inside a rented home, was elaborate and potentially deadly and put neighbors within a half mile in great danger, White said.
Deputies discovered the explosives Saturday when the woman who owns the property went to check on the home and found the chemicals.
White said Wednesday cleanup around the property will take some time and cost an estimated $50,000.
"There's not really any way for her to get back that money, so it's placing her in a really bad situation," White said.
The threat of explosion is gone and it does not look like ground water has been affected, but the Environmental Protection Agency will have to come in and make sure, the sheriff said.
"It'll probably be a year or further down the road before we completely get it contained and have it safe for someone to come back here and live," White said.
There is no evidence O'Keefe was building bombs for terrorists or criminals, he said. It appears he was just trying to continue his life's work.