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Mar-03-2008 16:58printcomments

Oregon National Guard Responds to Possible Anthrax Scare

The incident was a hoax. Still if convicted, the individuals who left the envelopes face possible prosecution under federal anti-terrorism laws.

Albany firefighters and members of the Linn-Benton Regional Region-5 HAZMAT team watch as Staff Sgt. Jarrell E. Rysavy and Sgt. Joseph K. Plueard, both of the Oregon National Guard's 102nd Civil Support Team, make their way toward the Linn County Courthouse in Albany. Two envelopes containing a suspicious white powder were discovered by workers, prompting evacuation of the building. Members of the CST obtained samples, which was taken to Hillsboro for analysis. Photos by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy

(ALBANY, Ore.) - One of the newer units in the Oregon National Guard worked closely with local first-responders and civilian emergency agencies during an incident in Albany, Oregon, today.

Maj. Randy Cote monitors the
Oregon Guard's 102nd Civil Spt.
Team, as they obtain a sample of
white powder found in an envelope
outside the Linn Courthouse

Members of the Oregon National Guard's 102nd Civil Support Team were called to the Linn County Courthouse located at 300 SW 4th Ave. in Albany, after workers found two envelopes containing a suspicious white powder.

Initial tests found the samples to be a sugar-like substance. According to an FBI spokesperson, definitive tests will be available in 48 hours.

One envelope was located outside the rear of the building near an air-conditioning unit, and another envelope was located in an office inside the building. Local authorities cordoned off access to the building, shutting down surrounding streets.

Lt. Col. Steve Ferrell, 102nd CST Commander, said the unit's frequent training with simulated anthrax scenarios over the past several years has adequately prepared them to assist first-responders during today's incident.

"Anthrax training seems to be the most common scenario," he said. "They've done it quite a few times, so they're very proficient in this type of scenario."

The CST worked closely with the Albany Fire Department, Linn-Benton Regional Region-5 HAZMAT team, the Linn County Sherriff's office, and representatives from the FBI.

Oregon National Guard 102nd Civil Support Team
members, Staff Sgt. Jarrell E. Rysavy, and 2nd Lt.
Richard A. Hosmer, consult prior to Rysavy and Sgt.
Joseph K. Plueard, obtaining a sample from one of two
envelopes discovered by workers.

"We're here to do whatever we can to support them," Ferrell said.

Two CST members donned HAZMAT suits before taking samples from the envelope located outside the building. The sample was secured, and transported to Hillsboro for analysis.

Custody of the sample was turned over to Craig Mueller, Special Agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Portland, Ore., who escorted the sample to the lab.

Oregon Guard 102nd Civil Support Team
member 1st Lt. Jessy Claerhout, consults with CST
Commander, Lt. Col. Steve Ferrel, before Staff Sgt.
Jarrell E. Rysavy and Sgt. Joseph K. Plueard

Linn County Undersheriff, Will McAnulty, said the inter-agency relationships are critical during incidents like this.

"We couldn't do this without all of us working together," he said. "We really appreciate all the assistance from the National Guard."

Ferrell said the CST has the distinct advantage of devoting all their training cycles to preparing for incidents like this.

"We have a luxury that most of the HAZMAT teams or fire fighters don't, in that it's our full time job to train for these things," Ferrell said. "(In many cases), we bring skills that add to their capabilities and we're very happy to be able to do that."

By early afternoon, a thorough sweep of the building found no more suspicious packages. Federal and local authorities will continue their investigation into the incident.

If convicted, the individuals who left the envelopes face possible prosecution under federal anti-terrorism laws and civil penalties including being held financially responsible for the cost of the emergency response.


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EH March 5, 2008 9:02 am (Pacific time)

Misspelling in the title of this article. "The indident was a hoax..". It should be "incident"

Editor to EH: Thank you very much.

Editor March 3, 2008 7:31 pm (Pacific time)

Our thanks to Paul for pointing out our spelling error in this story's dateline. It read "AKBANY" instead of "ALBANY".

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