Chemical tests came back negative Wednesday (Feb. 16) on contents of a 'suspicious letter' that caused evacuation of an office building Tuesday (Feb. 15) at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System.
Although the VA employee who opened the envelope described a "gritty, musty-smelling" substance inside, a VA spokeswoman said FBI agents found nothing except a letter.
Officers from the Palo Alto Fire Department and its hazardous-materials team taped off an area surrounding the VA's Building 6 Tuesday, after the employee reported feeling ill upon opening the suspicious envelope. Several hours later, FBI agents arrived and removed the substance for testing. A U.S. Postal Service inspector also was on the scene.
The employee sought treatment in the VA's emergency room after saying he had felt an unusual substance on his hands when opening the envelope, VA spokeswoman Kerri Childress said.
The first floor of building No. 6 at 3801 Miranda Ave. -- housing staff members who work in human resources, contracting and logistics -- was evacuated, and all air vents were turned off, Childress said. Fire personnel temporarily isolated employees on other floors, and 100 workers left the building.
No patients are housed in building No. 6 and there is no connection to patient-care areas, she said.
By 2:52 p.m., at least three people had gone through a decontamination process and were being escorted to the emergency room to have their vital signs checked, an emergency responder said.
By 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, at least seven others had been decontaminated.
The section of building No. 6 where the letter was handled has been re-opened after having been sealed off pending results from the FBI, Childress said Wednesday.