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National Guard specialists join investigation of possible sarin threat

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Hazardous materials specialists from the California National Guard’s 95th Civil Support Team have been called in to assess a suspicious package shipped to Facebook’s facilities in Menlo Park that may have been contaminated with a chemical weapon.

Menlo Park Fire Protection District Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman said Monday evening:

“They specialize specifically in chemical, biological and radiological detection.”

Schapelhouman said:

“We’re not saying there’s anything there, but out of an abundance of caution, this is the right group to bring in to make sure there isn’t a problem.”

Around 11 a.m. Monday morning, screeners testing incoming mail at 1005 Hamilton Ave. found the presence of a material suspected to be the nerve agent sarin. The package was re-tested twice, with one positive and one negative result.

Facebook evacuated a total of four buildings, three of which have since been cleared to repopulate, according to Facebook spokesman Anthony Harrison, but authorities have not yet positively identified the suspicious substance in question.

As of 5:15 p.m., a team was setting up outside 1005 Hamilton Ave., preparing to make entry.

Two people handled the package in question, but there are no medical issues to report, and these individuals are not thought to have been exposed to any dangerous materials.

Schapelhouman said it’s not yet clear whether this situation is a false alarm or a serious incident.

Schapelhouman said:

“We don’t know yet. Either way it’s contained to the structure of origin.”

“There’s no threat to the local community whatsoever right now.”

He added:

“Everything that can be done is being done.”

Sarin gas is a clear, colorless nerve agent with no taste or odor that can occur in liquid or vapor form, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Exposure is possible through skin or eye contact, as well as inhalation. For more information, people can go to
https://emergency.cdc.gov/agent/sarin/basics/facts.asp.

Crews clear three of four Facebook buildings after package tests positive for sarin

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