Mail Facility Cleared After White Powder Found - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Homeland Security

Mail Facility Cleared After White Powder Found

April 22, 2003
Posted at: 10:20 a.m. CDT

TACOMA, Wash. - A mail distribution facility was evacuated early Tuesday after some white powder was found at the building. A preliminary test indicated the powder might be a biotoxin, a fire department spokeswoman said.

The material was found about 12:45 a.m. on a table where mail is processed, Fire Capt. Jolene Davis said. Four people who were close to it were decontaminated as a precaution, she said, but no injuries were reported and no one showed any signs of being ill.

In Washington, Department of Homeland Security spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said local authorities reported the field tests showed the possible presence in the powder of plague or botulinum toxin, which causes botulism.

Later on in the day, Homeland Security Department officials ruled out any possible toxins in the power, saying that additional tests returned no positive result.

Roehrkasse, Davis and Postal Inspector Jeff Scobba all cautioned that the preliminary test might give a false result and further testing was needed.

An Army National Guard unit from nearby Fort Lewis, which has better equipment for determining biohazards, was called in to help investigate, Davis said.

She said 94 people were evacuated from the building.

Scobba said the source of the powder was not known, but that all letters in the area had been bagged up.

He said no threats had been received.

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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