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Suspicious substance triggers evacuation of San Jose post office

March 27, 2012 |  1:06 pm

A U.S. post office in downtown San Jose was evacuated Tuesday when two employees started feeling sick after discovering a suspicious substance.

The employees at the post office on First Street were sorting packages just before 8 a.m. when a green and yellow substance seeped out of one, according to the San Jose Fire Department. The workers began coughing and reported having headaches and sore throats. The office called 911.

About 30 Fire Department personnel, the San Jose Police Department bomb squad and postal officials all responded to the scene, said Fire Department spokeswoman Mary Gutierrez. The post office was evacuated and a four-block area was closed off.

Wearing suits and respirators, a hazardous materials team went into the office and determined that the substance wasn't hazardous, Gutierrez said.

Of the 63 employees, three were "decontaminated" and then taken to a hospital for treatment, she said. One customer was in the office at the time but left before speaking to authorities.

Working with postal officials, police officers were able to track down the recipient of the package, who came to the scene and told authorities the material was an Asian herbal remedy.

"We had to treat it as a hazmat situation," Gutierrez said. "In case it turned out to be some kind of hazardous material, we had to take all necessary precautions."

The post office has since reopened.


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