NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) — White powder found inside an envelope at the offices of the Seneca Niagara Casino in Niagara Falls forced the response of first responders and HAZMAT teams Tuesday afternoon.
Twenty employees in the offices near Third Street and Niagara were evacuated, then HAZMAT crews took decontamination measures on them, a News 4 source confirmed. An employee opened an envelope with an unidentified white powder inside. That powder has since been cleared of danger after it tested negative.
Niagara Falls firefighters and Niagara Falls Air Reserve HAZMAT teams rushed to the scene around 10 a.m. Tuesday to aid the employees who called for help.
First responders set up the decontamination area outside of the building and set up a perimeter to control the surroundings before learning the powder was not dangerous.
“We test for anthrax, radiation and anything else that might come up,” said Battalion Chief Clifford Mayes, of the Niagara Falls Fire Department. “They have very good equipment in there. They tested it while it was on location still, and everything came up negative.”
Mayes said the reaction is to be expected, especially after similar but more serious instances during the past few years.
“We’ve had a lot of anthrax scares in Congress, and the federal government, federal government employees opening envelopes, and it raises the awareness,” he said. “So when somebody does see something like that now, they react as if it could be serious and we have to take that serious as well.”
Hazmat crews tested the powder, and Mayes said it’s believed to be some sort of crushed up medication. He wasn’t more specific. He said he didn’t know why it was sent to the company or whether it was addressed to anyone in particular, and that all of that will be a part of the investigation.