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Ulysses Taormina, assistant chief, Marine Corps Base Quantico Fire Department and Emergency Rescue, leans in to help Shannon Publicover, firefighter/paramedic, tape up her hazardous materials suit during a suspicious package situation at the military side of the Post Office April 29, 2013. The four individuals who were exposed to the letter resumed their work and the post office reopened.

Photo by Cpl. Antwaun Jefferson

Fast response from first responders

29 Apr 2013 | Cpl. Antwaun Jefferson Marine Corps Base Quantico

Postal personnel called in a suspicious package containing a white, powdery substance at the military side of the Post Office aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico on April 29, 2013, at approximately 8:20 a.m.

Training instilled in the minds of Marines and quick reactions by emergency service personnel turned what could have been a panicked response into a quickly contained and orderly process that led to the safety and well-being of Marines and civilians. The explosive ordnance disposal specialists and hazardous material experts were some of the first to respond on the scene.

“Moments like these are exactly what we trained for,” said Cpl. Patrick Logan, postal clerk. “As soon as we realized that something was abnormal about the package, we notified our staff non-commissioned officer who was with us at the time and she called the situation in. Emergency services responded within five minutes.”

There were 12 people in the building, but only four, three postal Marines and a civilian postal clerk, actually handled the letter.  None have exhibited any symptoms.

Around 9:13 a.m., the Provost Marshal's Office established a cordon around the post office, while the Prince William County Police Department was in route to assist with cordoning on the Town of Quantico-side. The post office straddles the line between the town and the base.

After a safety brief, Quantico Fire Department and Emergency Rescue personnel donned hazardous materials suits and a four-man team entered the post office to conduct initial testing of the substance. At approximately 9:40 a.m., the hazmat team had completed two assessments and the preliminary results were negative on the powder substance.

To verify the initial results, FBI and Naval Criminal Investigative Service deployed their hazmat tent where they opened the letter. 

“The letter was a non-threatening letter and tested negative for any type of dangerous substance,” said Joseph P. Riley, deputy police chief, Provost Marshal's Office. “And, according to FBI and NCIS, there was no apparent powder inside the letter.”

In light of the news, the four individuals who were exposed to the letter resumed their work and the post office reopened.

Marine Corps Base Quantico