Cablegate: Classified Pouch - Suspicious Powder Incident
DE RUEHNM #0021/01 0110714
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 110714Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY NIAMEY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5560
INFO RUEHBP/AMEMBASSY BAMAKO 0494
RUEHOU/AMEMBASSY OUAGADOUGOU 8672
RUEHFT/AMCONSUL FRANKFURT 2497
RHMFIUU/MCESG QUANTICO VA
UNCLAS NIAMEY 000021
FOR DS/IP/AF, DS/SPC/WMD, AF/W, AF/RSA, AND AF/EX
BAMAKO - FOR REGIONAL MEDICAL OFFICER
OUAGADOUGOU - FOR RSO OFFICE
FRANKFURT - FOR CO MSG REGION 7
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ADPM AMED AMGT ASEC KMSG TBIO
SUBJECT: CLASSIFIED POUCH - SUSPICIOUS POWDER INCIDENT
REF: RSO NIAMEY SPOT REPORT DATED 01/06/2010
1. (SBU) On the morning of January 6, Post had an incident
relating to a classified pouch bag and a suspicious powder
inside it. The Information Management Specialist (IMS)
informed the Marine at Post 1 that an incident occurred in
the IPC. The IMS stated that after verifying the classified
pouch seal and ID tag, she opened the pouch and at this
moment, a suspicious powder was released. The IMS officer
immediately sealed the class pouch inside a clear plastic
trash bag and then washed her face and hands that were
exposed to the powder. The Marine notified the RSO, who then
directed Post 1 to react the Marines for a possible powder
incident. The RSO instructed Post 1 to immediately
isolate/quarantine the IPC area. RSO spoke to IMS to receive
all pertinent information and instructed her to immediately
contact Frankfurt to verify the contents of the pouch. RSO
spoke to the DCM to advise him of a possible suspicious
powder incident and to isolate the area of the incident. DCM
agreed that all personnel should remain in their offices with
the doors closed until the situation was resolved. The
Marines then executed all protocol procedures for a
suspicious powder incident. In full chemical/biological
gear, two Marines moved the sealed pouch to the stand-alone
mail screening facility on the Chancery grounds. Under
supervision of the RSO and MSG Detachment Commander, the two
Marines collected two samples of the substance and identified
that there was one package in the pouch addressed to Post's
Health Unit. RSO contacted the Nurse, who confirmed that she
was expecting a package from the addressee. She added that
there was nothing in the package that should cause a powder
substance to appear. One Marine identified an approximate
two-inch hole in the bottom of the class pouch bag. The
Marines then decontaminated the entire mail facility, pouch,
package and then themselves. The class pouch, sample
collection tool and plastic bag (original sealing bag) were
placed in a plastic trash can that was filled with a strong
bleach-to-water ratio solution, to soak and decontaminate.
All possible contaminated items were placed in plastic bags,
sealed and then placed in another plastic bag, which was
sealed also. Two other Marines, in full chemical/biological
gear, moved to the IPC and conducted decontamination
procedures for the areas that may have been exposed to the
substance. The RSO instructed the IMS to conduct personal
decontamination procedures in a bathroom next to the IPC; all
of her clothing was then sealed in a trashbag. Upon
completion of decontamination efforts, all possible
contaminated clothing and gear, including the two Marines'
gear, were sealed in trashbags and moved to the stand-alone
2. (SBU) The following is a detailed timeline of the events
10:10am - IMS calls Post 1 Marine to notify of a possible
suspicious powder incident in a classified pouch bag.
10:11am - MSG Detachment begins react procedures. MSGs are
already in the Chancery due to weekly MSG Guard School.
10:12am - Post 1 informs RSO of incident, who is off compound
but returning to the Chancery. RSO advises Post 1 to
quarantine the suspected contaminated area.
10:13am - Post 1 contacts Nurse in Health Unit to advise her
of the situation. MSGs contact GSO supply to get additional
10:20am - RSO speaks to IMS to gain all relevant information
and to make an assessment of the situation.
10:25am - RSO reacts Marine MSG Team Alpha (two-man team) to
don full chemical/biological gear.
10:26am - RSO informs Front Office of the situation.
10:40am - MSG Team Alpha is fully suited and ready to begin
operations. RSO begins securing the route for the package to
be moved out of the Chancery. MSG Team Bravo moves to
stand-alone mailing facility to open it and prepare for MSG
Team Alpha arrival.
10:45am - MSG Team Alpha and RSO move to IPC to get the
sealed class pouch with suspicious powder in it.
10:50am - MSG Team Alpha, RSO and Detachment Commander arrive
at stand-alone mailing facility.
10:52am - RSO notifies DS Command Center (DSCC) of the
on-going incident and requests that DSCC contact State Ops,
MED, DS/WMD and the CDC and inform them of the incident.
11:00am - MSG Team Alpha begins collecting samples.
11:20am - MSG Team Alpha completes sample collection and
begins decontamination procedures.
11:25am - RSO instructs MSG Team Bravo (two-man team) to
begin donning full chemical/biological gear.
11:40am - MSG Team Bravo reports to RSO that it is suited-up
and ready for operations.
11:42am - MSG Team Alpha completes all decontamination
procedures and stands down.
11:45am - MSG Team Bravo and RSO move to IPC area to begin
the decontamination process.
11:46am - The RSO instructs IMS to conduct personal
decontamination procedures in a bathroom next to the IPC.
12:10am - MSG Team Bravo completes all decontamination
procedures and stands down.
12:10am - RSO announces the all-clear. RSO contacts DSCC to
inform them that the incident is over and the all-clear has
12:15am - IMS and MSG Team Alpha and Bravo report to Post's
Health Unit to be examined and receive medication for
possible exposure to chemical-biological agents.
3. (SBU) After Action Items:
(a) RSO in coordination with DS/WMD and CDC, has shipped
samples of the substance to be tested by CDC.
(b) Post's Health Unit conducted a Power Point presentation
regarding anthrax and other chemical/biological agents with
all Marines, IMS and the mailroom clerks.
(c) Nurse is monitoring the health of the IMS and all
Marines who may have been exposed and who are currently
taking Cipro as a precautionary measure.
(d) RSO will provide CDC results to all relevant entities.
(e) RSO will conduct a lessons-learned meeting with the
Marines, Nurse and IMS to review Post's procedures and
improve any needed areas.
4. (U) Any questions regarding this incident can be directed
to RSO Nicholas Brashich.