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Suspicious powder non-toxic
by Mark Fisher on 5/9/2003 (0)

Picture of the as of yet unidentified powder.
TACOMA, Washington - After evacuating a mail distribution center on Tuesday following the discovery of a suspicious white powder, the Federal Homeland Security Department says it determined that the substance was not toxic.

“We’re conducting more tests to determine what the substance is,” said one official. “Our preliminary field test suggested that it could be some type of toxin, but later we concluded that the initial finding was a ‘false positive’, which is more or less a negative, which is kind of like a ‘no’.”

The powder was found around 12:45 PDT on a table where mail is processed. While exact quantities have not been disclosed, one distribution center employee described the material as “fifteen or twenty white lines, about the size of a decent night crawler. They were on a sheet of glass or something, and the sun was reflecting off it really bright, which made it difficult to see. I think somebody left a few dollar bills on the table by mistake, too.”

The Tacoma Fire Department was initially notified of the discovery, who then called in the National Guards’ 10th Civil Support Team out of nearby Camp Murray. A mobile laboratory was set up to conduct further tests on the substance. Activity increased feverishly throughout an afternoon of testing, but no conclusions have yet been reached.

A Washington State Emergency Management official, suffering from what he said was an ‘”unrelated nasal condition” and sniffling often, said that some of the white powder would be taken to the Washington State Health Lab in Shoreline for definitive analysis.

“We, ah, we-we think that, ah, we think we have a handle on this,” said the somewhat jumpy official. “Oh, yes, we think so, but the boys down at the Health Lab need to try it out. It’s a good thing we were called in, yes, very good. I’m very, very happy to report that there was no, nope, no health risk, at least I don’t think there was any health risk at all inside there, the facility over there. Might just have been Desenex or something, you know, powdery like that.”

Late reports indicate that the white powder was originally in two separate envelopes, one addressed to a local police department, and the other to the U.S. State Department. It is unclear how and when the envelopes were originally opened.isp0" style="display:no

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