November 21, 2018
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Police: Powder that shut down Lewiston city block ‘not dangerous’

A member of a hazardous materials response team onsite in Lewiston investigates an unknown powder discovered in an envelope that caused authorities to shut down a city block

Lewiston police said the substance that triggered a massive hazmat response Monday has been identified and poses no threat.

The incident shut down a city block on Park Street nearly the entire day, after an employee at the state Violations Bureau found white powder inside an envelope around 8:43 a.m.

The bureau is part of the Maine court system, handling over 100,000 traffic violations each year.

Lewiston police Lt. David St. Pierre said the 20 or so employees evacuated the building right away. He said seven employees who came into contact with the powder had to be decontaminated in a tent on site and taken to the hospital for observation.

Hazmat crews retrieved the envelope from inside the building and tested the powder.

Police identified the substance but did not reveal what it was because the investigation is ongoing.

“At this time, we can say it’s nothing that appears to be dangerous,” St. Pierre said. “It’s not a weapons of mass destruction of any kind or anthrax or anything that would typically be very dangerous.”

St. Pierre said detectives were talking to the person who may have sent the envelope, to find out how the powder got inside. Police don’t anticipate any criminal charges.

St. Pierre said it’s important they take every precaution in these situations.

“With the way things are today and the threats that are out there, we take it seriously and we like to make sure we have enough manpower to handle what it could have potentially been,” St. Pierre said.

Police said the building has been cleared to re-open Tuesday.


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