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Sandra Lee comments on Anthrax scare incident

25 October 2001 Media Statement
Sandra Lee comments on Anthrax scare incident at Parliament today

"I commend the authorities for their prompt response to this incident," Conservation Minister Sandra Lee said today.

"I have been assured there will be a full investigation of the source of the white powdery substance that was in an envelope addressed to me at Parliament," she said.

"As this incident is the subject of current Police inquiries, I will not be making any further comment."


ANTHRAX SCARE INCIDENT

Statement by John O'Sullivan

General Manager, Parliamentary Service, Department of Internal Affairs

This afternoon just after 1.00pm an envelope was opened in the Office of the Hon Sandra Lee and found to contain a white powdery substance.

The staffer, who was wearing latex gloves for opening the mail, immediately followed the advised procedure and put the item aside, covered it and then contacted Parliament Security.

Security's first response was to ensure that the Beehive air conditioning was closed down and the Police were immediately called. The office was then isolated, visitor movement checked, and the Police took control of the incident.
The suspect envelope was removed by the Police who then gave the occupants information about possible risks to health from anthrax. The incident was considered to be a low risk that it might be a genuine attack.

The office occupants were permitted to resume normal business just after 2.00pm. At no stage was advice given for any wider evacuation of the building and the preferred procedure is to contain the possibility of any wider spread rather than to immediately disperse occupants via immediate evacuation.

The Police confirmed that the correct procedures had been followed in this incident. The incident serves to heighten all our awareness about the need to be vigilant and to follow the correct procedures in dealing with any suspicious items.



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