Mystery powder found at military post office in Germany is being tested
Stars and Stripes May 6, 2004
SCHWETZINGEN, Germany — Army biological warfare experts were dispatched Wednesday to a military post office in southwestern Germany after workers there noticed white powder leaking from a parcel.
“A suspicious package was received in the daily mail delivery at the Tompkins Barracks consolidated mail room,” said Army spokeswoman Karin Zuleger in a prepared statement. “The package had sustained damage to the wrapping and an unidentified white powder was leaking out.”
Army officials refused to say whether any troops or military employees who had handled the package had been quarantined or put under observation.
“While we have no indication there is a threat from this package, normal security and safety precautions were employed until the nature of the substance can be positively identified,” said Zuleger, declining to elaborate.
By late afternoon, officials were cordoning off the parking lot adjacent to the post office at Tompkins Barracks and a fitness center across the street locked the doors into its weight-lifting area.
The small, usually sleepy installation is the home of V Corps Artillery and some support units. The installation sits on the outskirts of Heidelberg, which is home not only to V Corps headquarters — which led the invasion into Iraq last year — but also to the U.S. Army’s top command in Europe.
Witnesses and military officials at the scene said members of a Consequence Management Assessment Team wearing isolation suits had spent the better part of the afternoon removing the suspicious package and taking samples throughout the area for analysis.
A military van, said to have transported the package before the powder was noticed, was wrapped in police tape. Several stickers reading “radioactive” had been put on the vehicle as well.
Ironically, the incident is only a stone’s throw from where the Army’s first CMAT team in Europe had completed one of its final qualification drills before going active in 2002.
The teams were created in the wake of the Sept. 11 and anthrax attacks in the United States the year before.