Suspicious Package Shuts Down Corps of Engineers - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

01/11/05

Suspicious Package Shuts Down Corps of Engineers

Members of the hazmat team retrieved the package. Members of the hazmat team retrieved the package.

A package arrived at a federal building in Savannah this morning with a powdery residue coming from inside the box. So,  in the wake of post-911 anthrax scares, no one was taking any chances.

It all happened this morning at the Corps of Engineers on York Street in downtown Savannah.

Two main streets in downtown were closed down for about three hours as hazmat crews, the bomb squad, the fire department and police took every precaution.

It was about 10:30am when a damaged package arrived at the Corps of Engineers. "In the process of opening that package," said the corps' Billy Birdwell, "we decided that there was something suspicious about the package, some kind of powder inside that we frankly didn't recognize."

The white powder coming out was enough to scare the employees, forcing them to call the FBI and take further precautions. "Our standard procedures are to stop all operations at that time, sealing up, and call the authorities," said Birdwell.

When the FBI could not identify the substance, the bomb squad and fire department were called in, shutting down streets and attracting a crowd of onlookers. The fire department even had to use nearby Maui Smoothies to help with operations.

"It's kind of like not the first time that something crazy's gone on around here," said the store's Amy Davis. "It's kind of just being next to a federal building."

Hazmat crews were put on their highest alert level, dressed in decontamination suits, and minutes later, emerged with a package.

The white powdery substance turned out to be a kind of international food product. Authorities don't know to whom it was addressed at the building because the box was so damaged.

Reported by: Kim Angelastro, kangelastro@wtoc.com

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