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Calif. Bomb-Making Operation Found

January 1, 1999

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Federal authorities arrested a veteran utility worker Thursday after bombing-making materials were discovered at two Pacific Gas & Electric Co. warehouses.

``Ready-to-go explosives″ and raw materials, including calcium nitrate and more than 250 pounds of ammonium nitrate, were found at the two downtown PG&E warehouses, and additional evidence was found at the home of Paul Madronich, 44, said Special Agent Tracy Hite of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Ammonium nitrate is the same chemical used in the deadly 1995 bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City.

Madronich, of San Francisco, was accused of possessing a destructive device, possessing a destructive device in a public place and possessing of a destructive device as a public nuisance. He will be formally charged Jan. 5 in San Francisco Municipal Court.

Hite said that the bomb for which Madronich was arrested did not contain ammonium nitrate and that authorities were analyzing it to determine its contents.

Hite declined to speculate on a motive and would not say whether Madronich had acted alone.

The alleged bomb-making operation was discovered after a PG&E employee discovered water in a warehouse basement and followed the trail. Upstairs, the worker found 250 pounds of ammonium nitrate thawing inside a storage locker.

Police ordered roughly 30 workers out of the building and evacuated another across the street out of fear that the fertilizer had been mixed with volatile substances and frozen to keep it from exploding.

A 33-gallon drum of chemicals and books on making bombs were found elsewhere in the building, as were a ``small quantity of actual ready-to-go explosives,″ Ackerson said.

A second warehouse filled with bomb-making materials was found later after authorities questioned Madronich, officials said.

PG&E spokesman Scott Blakey said there’s no reason for ammonium nitrate to be in either of the warehouses. He said there had been no recent threats against the utility.

Madronich has served as a leak surveyor in PG&E’s gas construction department and had worked for the utility for 19 years, said PG&E spokeswoman Maureen Bogues.

She declined to comment on the arrest or on whether the utility had any problems with Madronich in the past.

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