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White powder leads to evacuation at bank building

TAMPA — Around 500 people were evacuated from a Bank of America facility Thursday afternoon, after the company received packets of white powder and a threatening letter.

But the powder was found to be harmless, and workers were allowed to return to the building shortly after 2 p.m., said Capt. Bill Wade, a spokesman for Tampa Fire Rescue.

"Approximately 16 people were exposed to white powder," he said "They're not showing any symptoms."

Multiple envelopes of the powder arrived at the bank's operations center at 4109 Gandy Boulevard around 1 p.m. The building was evacuated, and those exposed were examined by paramedics.

A team from Tampa Fire Rescue also analyzed the powder at the scene and determined that it posed no threat, Wade said.

"Following the white powder incidents that occurred in 2001 and 2002, hazardous materials teams throughout the country were trained and outfitted with equipment to try to quickly evaluate these white powder threats," he said. "That is what happened here today."

The envelopes were delivered by the U.S. Postal Service, and postal inspectors are investigating along with units from the Tampa Police Department.

"The investigation into who sent the powder and why continues," Wade said.

Tom Marshall can be reached at tmarshall@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3400.

White powder leads to evacuation at bank building 12/10/09 [Last modified: Thursday, December 10, 2009 2:45pm]
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