Toronto: Biological Scare, Anthrax : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread


Thu Mar 22, 2:42 pm

Employees allowed back in evacuated buildings

Employees are going back to work at the three Toronto office buildings that were evacuated this morning after a biological scare. The buildings that house the Ministries of Education, Citizenship and the Solicitor General were cleared when employees found a grey powder in envelopes sent to the offices. Along with the envelopes containing the powder was a note that reportedly read "how do you like Anthrax?" Citizenship Minister Cam Jackson was among almost 100 people who were quarantined earlier in the day.

-- Rachel Gibson (, March 22, 2001



Thursday, March 22, 2001

Toronto biological scare

TORONTO (CP) -- Thousands of government workers spent one of the city's first sunny spring days on the streets Thursday, shaken by the possibility they might have come into contact with a substance initially feared to be anthrax.

"It is very scary when you hear an announcement like that," Lilly Blezensky, who works on the 17th floor of one of the downtown buildings, said of being told to leave her office immediately.

"It is very scary when you work so high up. It's a long way down."

Blezensky was among thousands of other workers forced to flee three downtown office complexes. Dozens more were quarantined inside their offices after the mysterious packages were delivered to the buildings.

Hundreds spilled onto the streets at Bay and Wellesley Streets just before noon as fire crews and riot police arrived at the building where many Torontonians get their birth certificates, passports and driver's licences.

Sgt. Robb Knapper said employees on the 14th floor of the building, containing offices for Ontario's Education Ministry, were isolated for almost three hours after a suspicious envelope containing a grey powder-like substance was delivered.

"The package was opened and a grey substance apparently came out and as a result the emergency response was activated," Knapper said.

Knapper said the mysterious substance was accompanied by a note, but wouldn't reveal what it said.

Jennifer Rush, who was in the office at the time, said it said something to the effect of "How do you like anthrax?"

Police later determined the substance was not anthrax, but didn't know what it was.

The quarantined workers were then allowed to leave the building, but by then, dozens more were being evacuated after a similar package was delivered to a nearby building housing offices for the province's Corrections Ministry and the Ministry of the Solicitor General.

Emergency crews were seen removing two large boxes from the building on Grosvenor Street, which was temporarily cleared. Those on the 19th floor, where the package was found, were quarantined.

"I do believe it's the same type of granular substance that was found (at the first building)," Knapper said. "People on the floor have been quarantined."

Police said there were no reports of injuries although several ambulances gathered at both buildings. A short time later, employees were allowed to return to work.

Knapper said the powder would undergo further testing, but did not pose an immediate danger.

"I don't know if it is not hazardous," he said. "But the doctor on scene has determined it is safe to go back in."

Police were also investigating a third package at yet another government building.

There were few details surrounding that package.

"From what I understand it's a similar incident," Knapper said. "The package could be similar as well."

In January, thousands of Ontario civil servants were evacuated from their downtown Toronto building because of a suspicious package.

The scare later turned out to be hoax.

A day earlier, a federal government building in Ottawa was also closed after a suspicious envelope was found.

Tests showed it contained some form of bacteria but it was not dangerous.

-- Rachel Gibson (, March 22, 2001.

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