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Officer charged after meth explosion at federal lab in Md.

WASHINGTON — A former federal police officer was charged with trying to make methamphetamine in a federal laboratory that exploded last month, injuring the ex-officer.

Christopher Bartley, 41, was charged Monday in federal court in Greenbelt, Maryland, with a single count of attempting to manufacture methamphetamine.

The explosion occurred July 18 on the campus of the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Maryland, about 15 miles north of the nation’s capital.

Bartley was a lieutenant and supervisor with the institute’s police force, said institute spokeswoman Gail Porter. He resigned his position a day after the explosion, Porter said. He was treated at a hospital for injuries he suffered in the blast. No one else was hurt.

Authorities who responded to the explosion found pseudoephedrine, Epsom salt and other materials associated with the manufacture of meth. Police have said the chemical reaction that led to the explosion may have been caused by the manufacture of drugs.

Bartley’s initial court appearance is scheduled for Friday. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. His attorney did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

The building where the explosion occurred remains closed, but it will be available for experiments as needed, Burton said.

The institute, founded in 1901, is one of the nation’s major physical science laboratories. It employs about 3,000 scientists, engineers, technicians, and support and administrative personnel.