Salem revenue building evacuated due to white powder

The Oregon Department of Revenue building at the State Capitol in Salem was evacuated Wednesday morning after a suspicious white powder was found in an envelope. April 17, 2013. (KOIN 6 News staff)
The Oregon Department of Revenue building at the State Capitol in Salem was evacuated Wednesday morning after a suspicious white powder was found in an envelope. April 17, 2013. (KOIN 6 News staff)

SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) -— The Oregon Department of Revenue building at the State Capitol in Salem was evacuated Wednesday morning after a suspicious white powder was found in an envelope.

By late Wednesday morning, Oregon State Police (OSP) reported that powder had been examined and found to be harmless. It has not yet been identified.

At about 7 a.m., an employee in the first-floor mail room opened the envelope to discover the powder.

The employee contacted police. The mail room was cleared, although the second through fifth floors of the building were not evacuated, OSP Lt. Michael Peterson said at a morning news conference.

The Oregon Department of Revenue building at the State Capitol in Salem was evacuated Wednesday morning after a suspicious white powder was found in an envelope. The substance was later determined to be harmless. April 17, 2013. (KOIN 6 News staff)

“We have machines that cut the envelopes open,” mail room employee Karen Brown told KOIN. “And when the envelope went through the machine, the white powder kind of puffed up into one of the workers faces.”

Seven people who were exposed to the powder were isolated as a precaution, but none displayed any medical issues or illness, according to Dennis Thompson, a revenue department official.

A Salem Fire Department hazmat team entered the mail room and inspected the substance. The Oregon National Guard and FBI also responded.

The envelope and powder were tested in an ONG Civil Support Team mobile command laboratory that contains specialized equipment for hazmat situations. By 10:30 a.m., the powder was determined to be neither toxic nor hazardous, and the first floor was reopened.

OSP would not confirm who the letter was addressed to or who may have sent it. No suspects have been identified in the case.

Brent Weisberg

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