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Substance that triggered hazmat response in Lewiston "not dangerous"

Lewiston Police say a Hazmat team is investigating after a white powdery substance was found at the Violations Bureau, which handles traffic tickets. (WGME)

LEWISTON (WGME) -- Lewiston police said the substance that triggered a massive hazmat response on Monday has been identified and poses no threat.

The incident shut down a city block on Park Street nearly the entire day, after an employee at the state Violations Bureau found white powder inside an envelope around 8:43 a.m.\

The bureau is part of the Maine court system, handling over 100,000 traffic violations each year.

Lewiston Police Lt. David St. Pierre said the 20 or so employees evacuated the building right away. He said seven employees who came into contact with the powder had to be decontaminated in a tent on site, and then taken to the hospital for observation.

Hazmat crews retrieved the envelope from inside the building and tested the powder.

Police identified the substance, but won't reveal what it is because their investigation is ongoing.

"At this time, we can say it's nothing that appears to be dangerous," said St. Pierre. "It's not a weapons of mass destruction of any kind or anthrax or anything that would typically be very dangerous."

St. Pierre said detectives were talking to the person who may have sent the envelope, to find out how the powder got inside. Police don't anticipate any criminal charges.

St. Pierre said it's important they take every precaution in these situations.

"With the way things are today and the threats that are out there, we take it seriously and we like to make sure we have enough manpower to handle what it could have potentially been," St. Pierre said.

Police said the building has been cleared to re-open on Tuesday.



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