White substance evacuates office

By BELINDA SCOTT

HALF a teaspoon of white crystals evacuated the Coffs Harbour office of Cowper MP Luke Hartsuyker yesterday.

The incident saw police, fire brigade, ambulance and hazardous materials units spring into action.

Staff were sorting the morning's mail when they opened a small white envelope to find it contained a small quantity of white powder in the form of small 2crystals.

The MP's press secretary Greg Pierce said police were contacted immediately and put the hazardous materials operation into action.

He said two staff members had handled the material and had seen that there was also a document in the envelope, but he did not know what that was, nor where the package had come from.

Coffs Harbour Fire Station officer Tony Lenthall said they had been called at 9.57am and firefighters had evacuated the office and evaluated the employees.

He said they had isolated the source of the suspected contamination, made it safe and handed it over to police.

The two affected employees were decontaminated by cleaning and washing their hands and arms.

During the operation the Little Street office was isolated with barrier tape, two fire engines and the Hazmat trailer.

Nine fire brigade officers, two fire engines, a Hazmat vehicle, two ambulance vehicles and officers, a police car and two police officers responded to the incident.

The white powder has not yet been identified.

A white granular substance found at Dorrigo High School on Wednesday afternoon closed the school for the rest of the week.

That substance has been sent to the Department of Environment and Climate Change laboratories in Sydney for identification.

The school will reopen on Monday.



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