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April 09, 2007:
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According to a prepared statement released by the Commissioners, Charles County Courthouse Security notified the 911 Center at 11:48 a.m. of an incident involving a white powder substance. Employees had opened an envelope, white powder was disbursed and two employees were exposed.
Courthouse Security secured the courthouse area and blocked subsequent entry into the building. Charles County authorities also called in several agencies including:
* The Charles County Sheriff’s Office;
* Charles County Emergency Services;
* Charles County Tactical Response Team which includes Emergency Services, County Government, Charles County Sheriff’s Office and volunteers;
* A number of units from the Fire/EMS Services;
* Federal Bureau of Investigation;
* U. S. Postal Inspection Service;
* St. Mary’s Fire;
* St. Mary’s Regional Response Team Members;
* State Fire Marshall;
* Maryland State Police;
* La Plata Police Department, and
* U. S. Navy from Dahlgren, Va.
Once the Hazmat Team had finished opening the envelope, they found a note indicating the possibility of an explosive device. The Courthouse was evacuated and Charles Street (Route 6) in front of the Courthouse and Washington Avenues were closed.
Authorities say that initial testing of the powder shows that there was no present danger. The U. S. Postal Service (USPS) will perform more precise testing of the powder. The USPS will also be the agency responsible for pursuing criminal prosecutions.
Two additional county employees, who were responsible for mail delivery to the buildings, are being observed and treated for possible contamination.
“All units of the Regional Response Team, Emergency Services, Sheriff’s Office, Health Department, FBI, Postal Services, Fire and EMS units, etc. worked well together on this incident to protect the community,” said William Stephens of the Charles County Department of Emergency Services.