Apparently it was quite the festival of questionable substances this week at the Jackson Federal Building.
Tuesday afternoon's hazmat alert concerned powdery material and an envelope on the 30th floor - I'm not certain which agency was involved, but the upshot was the shutdown of 2nd avenue, requiring everyone to exit via 1st avenue and climb the hill to catch their busses. Fine you say, but apparently the climb itself precipitated a couple of medical near-emergencies as out-of-shape people over-exerted themselves rushing up the hill trying not to miss their bus. Final verdict on the powder? Packing material - the stuffing from a padded envelope. We have these padded envelopes stuffed with shredded/pulverized newsprint, and if the stuffing compartment is breached (by, say, a staple) it gets a nasty-looking gray powder _everywhere_.
Wednesday saw two separate incidents - one internal, one external. Outside, apparently a Ryder truck pulled up on the 2nd avenue side, two guys got out and dropped something off, then it left. The construction workers who witnessed this called the police, who apparently managed to track down the truck and the perpetrators and bring them back to answer for their actions. I don't know the final verdict on this one, the over-the-cubicle-newswire hasn't provided a follow-up.
Inside, an instructor for the TCO (Tax Compliance Officer) CPE we are hosting found a plastic bag with a white powder in it outside the classroom doorway (on the 28th floor) at lunch. Apparently they picked it up, OPENED IT TO INVESTIGATE, closed it back up, took it into the classroom and put it on someone's _lunchpail_ while they tried to find out what to do with it. Someone came up with the bright idea of taking it to Facilities (on my floor, just around the corner), so they grabbed it, got on the elevator, came down here and scared the crap out of everyone. You can tell when something like that goes wrong, they cut the HVAC immediately because it vents outside AND recirculates the air all through the building... They closed some of 1st ave. (I think), shut down the elevators, quarantined the instructor in a conference room and called the Hazmat team. Then they wouldn't let people go out into the hallway, even. This was at lunchtime, so tensions were running high - no one could leave, or even use the bathroom once they closed off the hall. Of course, one of the personnel people wasn't about to let a little thing like biochemical terrorism get in the way of her lunch break, so she walked down 25 flights of stairs and left the building - then was surprised when she couldn't get back in again for a couple of hours. Final verdict on the powder: crushed aspirin. And a damn good thing, too, considering the multiple vectors of breach along the way.