The Governor’s Office and the Lt. Governor’s Office were evacuated this afternoon after it was discovered that an envelope delivered to the office contained an unidentified white substance. According to a press release:
State Police dispatched its Emergency Response Team to the State Capitol to investigate the substance. The U.S. Postmaster is also responding to the scene with specialized equipment to test the substance.
The Santa Fe Police Department, Santa Fe Fire Department and state Department of Homeland Security are also assisting the State Police with its investigation.
A portion of the Governor’s Office was sealed off once the substance was discovered. Several staff members and security officers who were in the vicinity at the time the envelope was opened are currently being quarantined until the substance is identified.
Capitol Building Security evacuated the rest of the building as a precautionary measure, although the building is once again open except for the Fourth Floor, where the Governor’s Office is located.
In 2001 there were a series of anthrax scares in the United States, beginning shortly after the 9/11 attacks. Letters contaminated with anthrax spores were sent to several media outlets and to the offices of two Democratic U.S. Senators. Five people were killed and more than a dozen were infected with the virus.
This summer the FBI pinpointed the sender of those letters as Bruce Ivins, a scientist who worked in a government biodefense lab. He committed suicide shortly before he was expected to be arrested.