Package at New York’s Kennedy airport probed after inspectors get sick

Posted Aug. 11, 2013, at 4:43 p.m.
Last modified Aug. 11, 2013, at 7:24 p.m.

MELVILLE, N.Y. — A chemical that sickened two workers Sunday at a Kennedy Airport postal facility turned out to be nail polish remover, according to a source close to the investigation.

It was not known how the two customs workers were exposed to the product.

Earlier Sunday, the postal facility was sealed off and employees were ordered to leave their vehicles in the parking lot. Workers were shuttled home by bus, officials said.

FBI officials sent agents to the scene to test the customs workers for exposure to hazardous or potentially deadly gas “out of an overabundance of caution.”

The employees were opening mail in the airport post office when they were sickened by the contents of a package, Port Authority officials said.

The package was part of a shipment from China, the officials said.

After they were checked for chemical exposure, the two employees were taken to Franklin Hospital Medical Center in Valley Stream for treatment, a New York City Fire Department spokesman said. Their conditions were not known late Sunday afternoon.

Port Authority officials said the opened package was sealed in a 55-gallon drum.

Sunday afternoon, the roads leading to Building 250, near Cargo Area D, were closed, and employees had to leave their vehicles in the parking lot at the end of their shifts as a precaution.

Workers could be seen leaving the postal facility for the day and waiting for a bus that would take them home.

They have dealt with bomb scares and are veterans of the unexpected, said Roshon Martin, 42, of Jamaica, a supervisor at the facility.

“They always take care of you,” Martin said of investigators.

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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