False alarm: Biotoxin scare hits Tacoma post office

Tests have ruled out the presence of biotoxins in white powder discovered Tuesday at a mail sorting center in Tacoma, postal inspectors said.

Almost 100 people were evacuated from the Tacoma postal facility – located at 4001 S. Pine St. – at about 12:45 a.m. Tuesday after a white powder was found on approximately a dozen envelopes.

Initial tests done at the the scene by the Fire Department’s Hazardous Materials Team were positive for biotoxins, but subsequent analysis by the Washington National Guard’s Homeland Security Team was negative for toxins such as anthrax and bubonic plague.

“The more comprehensive tests came back negative,” Homeland Security Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said in Washington, D.C. “We’ve verified that this is not related to bioterrorism.”

A whitish or yellowish powder was also found at a post office in Tukwila on Tuesday, but tests determined the material to be harmless and it was disposed of.