After the U.S. military shot down the Chinese spy balloon on Saturday, Air Force Gen. Glen VanHerck, head of U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and Northern Command (NORCOM), reported that an explosive ordinance disposal team is combing through the debris field left off the coast of South Carolina. At a press conference on Monday, VanHerck said that the balloon may have contained explosives meant for the balloon to self-detonate with.

General Glen VanHerck

The debris field from the balloon is about six miles off the South Carolina coast. There, the USS Carter Hall is categorizing the debris, and the USNS Pathfinder is surveying the ocean floor. Meanwhile, VanHerck reported that an explosive ordinance disposal team was on site using unmanned underwater vehicles to identify potential threats, including explosives that may still be active and other hazardous materials.

“So glass off of solar panels, potentially hazardous material, such as material that is required for batteries to operate in such an environment as this and even the potential for explosives to detonate and destroy the balloon that – that could have been present,” VanHerck said.

The collected debris will be sent to an FBI processing lab in Quantico, Virginia, according to senior U.S. government sources.

Chinese spy balloon floating through U.S. airspace
Chinese spy balloon right after it was shot out of the sky by the U.S. military

It was reported by VanHerck that the Chinese spy balloon was about 200 feet tall and weighed thousands of pounds. The general said, “Of the payload itself, I would categorize that as a jet-airliner type of size, maybe a regional jet such as ERJ [Embraer Regional Jet] or something like that. [It] probably weighed in excess of a couple thousand pounds.”

VanHerck also addressed the reported concerns the White House expressed about shooting the balloon down over U.S. land, saying, “From a safety standpoint, picture yourself with large debris weighing hundreds if not thousands of pounds falling out of the sky. That’s really what we’re kind of talking about.”

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