The “trace amounts” of an orange powder mailed to a federal government building in Whitehorse on Tuesday have been tested and found to be harmless.
“We take these matters very seriously,” said Sgt. John Sutherland of Whitehorse RCMP Wednesday.
That news conference followed an eventful Tuesday that saw the department of Fisheries and Oceans building on Range Road evacuated, people quarantined, and an RCMP hazardous materials team called in from Vancouver.
“One of the things with these substances is that by mixing different materials together it can look like anything,” he said.
“That’s why we always have to err on the side of caution.”
Two employees found an orange “glue-like powder” when they opened a letter at their Fisheries and Oceans offices on Tuesday afternoon.
They immediately notified police.
When the RCMP arrived, they evacuated employees from the building, turned off its ventilation system and quarantined the two staff members who had touched the package.
The letter itself remained in the office where it had been opened — to limit its exposure and danger to the public.
Three members of the RCMP chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear team were then called in from Vancouver.
The team traveled to Whitehorse by RCMP jet, arriving at 11 p.m. Tuesday and leaving about 1 a.m. Wednesday morning, Sutherland said.
The powder was tested to determine if it was a known hazardous material and found it to be organic and harmless by the RCMP team, Sutherland said.
Tuesday’s incident, and its response, mirrors what happened in June, when a Yukon government department in Whitehorse received a letter from a Missouri address containing a brown “crumb-like” substance.
Like the orange powder received on Tuesday, the package sent in June was later found to be benign, Sutherland said.
Police are continuing their investigations of both incidents, he said.
No charges have been laid in either incident — but had the substances been found to be dangerous, charges could range from mischief to attempted murder, said Sutherland.
The two quarantined employees who touched the orange powder were examined by the chemical team, de-contaminated with a shower and then released, Sutherland added.
Employees returned to the Range Road building on Wednesday.
“The employees did the right thing” by calling police, said Sutherland.