False Alarm

Powder deemed nonpoisonous

by Wes Mayer

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Emergency responders stand outside the Coweta County Fire Department’s inflatable decontamination tent. The victims’ clothes are isolated in the black plastic garbage bags. 


The white powdery substance found Monday inside an envelope at a business on Highway 34 East in Coweta County was found to be non-toxic, according to authorities.

Around 12:49 p.m. Monday, emergency responders with the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office, Coweta County Fire Department and Newnan Fire Department arrived at 1933 East Highway 34, My Rent Source Property Management, in reference to an unidentified white powdery substance, said Lt. Col. Jimmy Yarbrough with the sheriff’s office. Each department responded with their hazardous materials teams and equipment, and employees of the business were placed into decontamination.

The office where the letter was opened was actually that of the property management company and not the Law Offices of Morris, Hardwick, Schneider located upstairs, as originally reported online. According to Yarbrough, an employee of the property management business picked up the envelope from the post office and took it to the business on Monday — when the envelope was opened, a white powder fell out.

This powder was rushed to a lab with the Georgia Department of Public Health in Atlanta, Yarbrough said, and authorities have determined it not to be a poisonous substance like Anthrax or Ricin.

Because the substance was a powder — a surface contaminant, unlike a gas or vapor, which is a permeating contaminant — the fire department’s HAZMAT team was able to quickly detect and remove any potential contaminants from the victims, said Coweta Fire Chief Todd Moore. At the scene, the department deployed its inflatable decontamination tent and used a dilution method to clean the victims — the tent also features spaces for privacy during this process.

Moore said the department re-captured all gray water run-off in the HAZMAT team’s on-site bladder, and Rhino Services, a metro Atlanta industrial and environmental cleaning contractor, was called to the scene to help clean up and dispose of all potentially hazardous solids and liquids. One victim was transported to Piedmont Newnan hospital for evaluation, and six others received treatment at the scene by emergency medical responders, Moore said.

According to Yarbrough, the exact identity of the substance may take around five days to identify in the labs. The letter to the property management business which contained the substance was a complaint and not a threat, and no charges have been filed at this time.







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