POWDER SCARE: Hazmat Identifies White Powder

The Des Moines Hazardous Material Unit was called to the VA Central Iowa Health Care System Wednesday afternoon. A suspicious white powder was mailed to the hospitals pharmacy with no return address.

The powder ended up not being dangerous- it came from a pill. Officials say someone had mailed it in, wanting a refill of that medication. But in the delivery process, the capsule was crushed, releasing the medicine inside.

Hazmat officials say employees said even though it turned out to be a false alarm, employees did the right thing by calling it in.

“They did a great job,” Lt. Bob Suarez said of employees at the VA Hospital, “they shut down the ventilation system, isolated everybody. We went ahead and quarantined the area off until we could get individuals in there to help us identify it.”

The team entered the building with their equipment, but didn’t have to use it. They were able to identify the capsule the gentleman was requesting, and compare it to a brand new capsule from the pharmacy. Officials say everything was the same consistency and there was no threat associated with it.

Officials now know the origin of the envelope and its contents. The letter that came with the unmarked envelope had been misplaced when it was initially opened. The hazmat crew eventually found it, along with a few other pills with the same purpose in a stack of mail in the pharmacy.

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