11:17 p.m.: No anthrax in letter | NevadaAppeal.com
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11:17 p.m.: No anthrax in letter

Staff and wire reports

Final testing of a white powder mailed in an envelope to a former Nevada governor does not contain anthrax, Nevada Division of Investigation Chief Scott Jackson said just after 11 p.m. tonight.

8:35 p.m. Update:

FIFTH STREET — A presumptive test at a lab at the University, Nevada Reno has concluded that white powder found this morning in an envelope addressed to Nevada’s former governor is negative of anthrax, said Scott Jackson, chief of the Nevada Department of Public Safety, Investigation Division.

On Fifth Street about a dozen state mail room workers, a television news reporter and an FBI agent, are waiting the final results of the testing that will determine whether they have been exposed to anthrax.

The state mail room was shut down about 1 p.m. today after the envelope containing the white powder was discovered. It was very similar to an envelope found at the Las Vegas state mail room this morning. And like that envelope, two field tests indicated it might be infected with anthrax.

Officials have sent the substance to the full laboratory at UNR for a conclusive answer to the question.

In the meantime, he said the mailroom workers ” joined by a TV reporter who accidentally used a portable bathroom set aside for those workers ” were being decontaminated. That process involves temporary confiscation of their clothing and a cold water shower.

“We’re in the process of decontaminating them and their clothing so we can get them home,” said Jackson. “Once we receive confirmation, if (the tests) are negative, we’ll be able to release their property back to them.”

Because of an anthrax scare in Las Vegas this morning, Northern Nevada law enforcement officers were on high alert, which resulted in the discovery of the envelope, said Jackson.

He said that after checking Gov. Jim Gibbons mail at his office this morning, an investigator was sent to the state mail room on Fifth Street to look through mail there. It was then that an envelope addressed to former Gov. Guinn, and bearing a Texas postmark and return address label, was found.

Jackson said that once the envelope was in a secured environment and the 12 employees in the building isolated, investigators discovered the envelope contained a letter and a white powder.

The letter, powder and envelope are nearly identical to more than three dozen envelopes delivered to governors across the United States in the last few days, said Jackson.

They began arriving at governors’ offices across the country on Monday. So far field tests have indicated the powders to be harmless, though further testing is under way, the FBI said Friday.

The Postal Inspection Service, which is working with the FBI, noted that sending hoax letters can result in up to five years in prison.

States where the letters have been received, according to information provided by the FBI, are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming, plus Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

6:35 p.m. update: Two positive tests in anthrax scare

FIFTH STREET — Carson City Fire Department Incident Commander Vince Pirozzi said the two initial tests on a white powder found in an enveloped addressed to Nevada’s former governor came out positive for anthrax, but he said that doesn’t necessarily mean the substance does contain anthrax.

The substance was found in an envelope addressed to former Gov. Kenny Guinn at the state mail room this morning.

It is similar to envelopes mailed to more than 30 other governors around the nation and, according to officials, all have been negative for the disease so far.

That includes the one found in the state’s Las Vegas mail room this morning.

Pirozzi said the same thing happened this morning with in Las Vegas ” the first two field tests were positive. He said the main test performed at a full laboratory, however, showed the substance was negative for the disease.

“Right now we can’t be positive one way or the other,” he said.

He said one good sign is that none of the roughly dozen mailroom workers are suffering any ill effects.

Officials have sent the material to the FBI lab in Reno and they hope to have the answer within the hour.

In the meantime, those in quarantine are being told they will have to go through a decontamination process which includes confiscation — at least temporarily — of all their clothing and a shower.

“Then we’ll let them go home,” said Pirozzi.