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Mar-03-2008 16:58TweetFollow @OregonNews
Oregon National Guard Responds to Possible Anthrax ScareSalem-News.com
The incident was a hoax. Still if convicted, the individuals who left the envelopes face possible prosecution under federal anti-terrorism laws.
(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.
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.
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.
"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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