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Third white powder envelope found at UC Irvine

January 5, 2010 | 12:43 pm

A third envelope with white powder and the words "black death" — identical to the ones received by two UC Irvine professors Monday — was found on the campus this morning, university officials said.

Just after 9 a.m., authorities were called to the computer sciences building to inspect a letter addressed to a woman who works in the Office of Information Technology, said Cathy Lawhon, a university spokeswoman.

The third floor of the building, the elevator and the ventilation systems were shut down while Orange County Department of Public Health workers tested for hazardous materials and paramedics checked workers for symptoms. No one has reported any health problems, Lawhon said.

The white powder found in the letters received Monday by a sociology professor and an engineering professor was found to be harmless after tests by the FBI and the county Department of Public Health.

The tests did not identify what the substance was but showed that it contained no toxic material, campus officials said.

As a precaution Monday, school officials evacuated the two buildings where the letters were opened and issued an alert warning people on campus to closely examine letters or packages that contain outdated information, are oddly shaped, are marked "personal" or "confidential" and/or do not have return addresses on them.

"The probability of your receiving similar letters or parcels is remote," the alert read. "However, in light of these incidents, we advise caution when examining incoming mail."

UC Irvine police are investigating who sent the letters and why the two professors were targeted. The FBI will conduct more tests that could identify the powder.

--Tony Barboza

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