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County Administration Building Receives Threat

County Administration Building Receives Threat

Washington County's Emergency Services Division Hazardous Materials Team and Washington County Health Department personnel conducted a floor-by-floor sweep of the County Administration Building Wednesday, January 11, 2006, following a threat concerning a possible contamination by a biological agent.
County Administrator Rod Shoop said that there was no evidence of imminent danger to the public or County employees after the 12:45PM phone call to the County's main information number claiming that Anthrax had been used to "contaminate second floor City Council Chambers." Nothing was found that would indicate the presence of a biological agent but building was locked down for a portion of the afternoon.
"We erred on the side of caution and assumed that we could be contaminated," Shoop said. "We notified our Department of Emergency Services and City Hall immediately, and began to take all pertinent steps to ensure safety of the Public and our employees."
County Health Department Environmental Health Director Ted Gordon, who led teams investigating biological agent threats in Montgomery County following 9/11, advised the County on steps to take.
Offices were notified of the possibility, but work continued through the day, with employees leaving at their normal end-of-work hour. Department heads were asked to make lists of all people, employees or the public that had been in the building during the day.
Shoop said that employees were advised to watch for the development of flu-like symptoms and if noted, to contact family physicians immediately. Symptoms of Anthrax poisoning would develop during the first 24-72 hours following contamination.
"Our employees receive instruction in how to recognize suspicious packages or other mail," Shoop said. "No one reported anything to us, and the search team did not locate anything suspicious. We continued to perform air quality tests after the end of the work day, just to be as cautious as possible," he said.
The Special Operations Department's HazMat team conducted preliminary field testing, taking air samples to be sent to State Environmental Health Laboratories for further testing, Emergency Services Division Director John Latimer said.

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