SCOTT AFB, Ill. (KMOX) - They’ve used a robot, an x-ray machine and air testing equipment, but hazardous materials crews have so far been unable to determine what caused three workers at the Scott Air Force Base Post Office to get sick this morning.
Base Commander, Colonel Michael Hornitscheck says they were focusing not on a single package, but on a group of packages in a bin in the mail room. According to on-site communications crew members used the post office x-ray machine to check for explosives in several packages and found none.
Colonel Hornitscheck says the situation started at about 9 am Wednesday, “We received a report that several of our mail handlers in our mail handling center experienced some respiratory and some skin reactions to something in the mail center. Using an abundance of caution we went ahead and send these three people to Memorial Hospital (in Belleville) to have them treated and to look for any type of adversity. I’m happy to report they’ve since been treated and released.”
Two of the employees work for the US Postal Service. The other is an Airman.
Col. Hornitscheck says 13 others who were in the mail center were decontaminated on the scene.
He says one other person walked into the base clinic reporting possible problems, but was checked out and released.
Col. Hornitscheck they don’t have any details on the package itself, “All we know, is that we had two postal service employees and one of our Air Force mail handlers who were in the proximity of a particular package…two individuals noticed a smell or had a respiratory response, another individual had a skin response.”
There were earlier reports the odor was like of sulphur.
The post office and about a half-dozen surrounding buildings are evacuated and the area cordoned off. Co. Hornitscheck says no more than 100 people have been evacuated.
When asked if there is any evidence this incident may be linked to the upcoming 10th anniversary of 9/11, Col. Hornitscheck said he would not speculate on that, “We are treating this as an isolated incident and we see no connection to the 9/11 anniversary or anything like that.”
Hornitscheck says the FBI is involved in the investigation.
OUR EARLIER STORY:
Hazmat crews descended on Scott Air Force Base after a suspicious package sent three to the hospital and prompted evacuations of several facilities on the base.
“Currently we’re responding to a suspicious package that occurred at the official mail center (Building 1650),” SAFB spokesman Lt. Benjamin Garland tells KMOX News.
He said they’re not releasing any further information about the “suspicious package” or what it may have contained at this time. However the package reportedly emitted a sulphur-like smell.
Garland said two USPS employees and one airman had respiratory and rash reactions to the package and have been transported to the hospital. Thirteen others underwent decontamination.
The incident began just before 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.
The education center, the bowling alley, Airman Family Readiness Center, and ITT center at Scott are closed until further notice.
Check back for more on this developing story.
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