Mysterious powder in VA office brings out hazmat response team

St. George firefighters responded Wednesday morning to a report of a possible hazardous material situation at the VA clinic on 1680 East, St. George, Utah, July 5, 2017 | Photo by Ric Wayman, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — An unknown powdery substance was found in an office at the Veterans Administration St. George Community Clinic located at 230 N. 1680 East Wednesday morning.

St. George Police and Fire units were called out at approximately 8:30 a.m. After a quick investigation, the incident was declared a possible hazardous material situation.

St. George firefighters discuss the plan of attack in dealing with a possible hazardous material situation at a VA clinic in St. George, Utah, July 5, 2017 | Photo by Ric Wayman, St. George News

“Finding out some of the circumstances, we evacuated the building,” St. George Fire Battalion Chief Robert Hooper said. “We then treated it like a hazardous materials response.”

The Special Operations squad truck was called in to assist. Firefighters rotated in and out of the building using respirators and special clothing, and were decontaminated when they left the building.

“We had a team respond in,” Hooper said. “They tested the substance and (used) multiple other testing processes and it came out that it was nontoxic, nonbio – so, it does not pose any hazard at this point.”

Hooper said the response was justified.

“You just never know what it could be,” he said. “There were some circumstances surrounding it that we didn’t know how it had got there, who had access – we were unable to determine that so, that’s why we responded the way we did, to treat it as if it were something toxic.”

Firefighters go through decontamination procedures after leaving the scene of a possible hazardous material situation, St. George, Utah, July 5, 2017 | Photo by Ric Wayman, St. George News

No injuries were reported in the operation. Firefighters and support personnel were on scene until almost 11 a.m. Twelve firefighters, one ladder truck and the Special Operations unit responded along with St. George Police and Gold Cross Ambulance.

The powdery substance?

“It came back with multiple compounds,” Hooper said. “Anything like you would find in like a coffee creamer, or like a foot powder, kind of a protein-based powder. Nothing toxic.”

This report is based on preliminary information provided by law enforcement or other emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.

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Email: rwayman@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews | @NewsWayman

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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2 Comments

  • Proud Rebel July 5, 2017 at 2:38 pm

    It is a sad comment about the world we live in today. That finding a white powder triggers a hazmat response, sort of sounds like the terrorists are winning.
    It certainly appears to me that the responders treated this situation appropriately! Far better to respond with appropriate caution and find it was not needed, than to just take for granted that it is harmless….. and be wrong.

  • dogmatic July 5, 2017 at 9:02 pm

    Saint George news, would you please remove the close up picture of that descusting skin pimple or black head at the end of every article. It’s repulsive.

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