Princeton package not biological or chemical

Homeland Security and FBI notified
July 31, 2008 5:45:16 AM PDT
A package addressed for the mayor of Princeton led to a hazmat situation.

It happened Wednesday morning at Borough Hall, where the FBI, Homeland Security and health officials responded after three workers became ill after opening a package.

Princeton Borough Hall is located at the intersection of Routes 206 and 27 in Mercer County.

Dozens of emergency vehicle decended onto Borough Hall this afternoon. Tests show the package, which was actually a letter within a letter, did not contain anything chemical or biological. But people there did have a reaction to package. Three people who had contact with the letter had undergone decontamination, and are going to be checked out at a local hospital.

Trenton fire rescue teams, wearing level 1 protection, entered Borough Hall Wednesday afternoon carrying a sophisticated computer analyzer in an effort to determine the substance that made workers sick.

It all started when employees in the borough clerks office opened a package addressed to the mayor.

Bob Bruschi, Borough Administrator, said, "The employee... that opened that package began to develop a reaction to what was in the package. She then called her supervisor." The supervisor also complained of a reaction.

Bill Drake from the Borough Fire Department tells us, "The symptoms they're having are rashes, blisters, itching, scratchy throat... itching around the mouth."

At the same time four or five others in the building complained of having reactions, including the police chief.

The alarm was sounded, the air system at Borough Hall was cut off, and all but the three people in the clerks office who had contact with the letter were evacuated. They spent the afternoon on the front steps under quarantine while hazmat crews analyzed the letter.

It was determined that the letter did not contain any chemical or biological agents.

Authorities say they have to investigate further to identify the irritant. They do however know where the letter originated ? Louisiana.

Authorities talked to the man in Louisiana who sent the letter. He said he originally sent the letter to a vitamin supplier in Montgomery Township. When it came back undeliverable he then put that letter in another envelope and sent it to the mayor to ask her to forward it.

Police say the vitamin company doesn't exist as they can see at this point.

The investigation is continuing and more tests on the letter will be conducted by the state health department.