A powdery substance that sickened three employees at a post office in downtown San Jose this morning, prompting an evacuation and street closures, has been deemed harmless, a U.S. Postal Service spokesman said.
Police and a fire department hazardous materials team responded to the post office at 105 N. First St. after receiving word of the situation at 7:55 a.m.
Investigators have now determined that the powdery substance feared to be hazardous is in fact some kind of herbal remedy that an elderly San Jose man had ordered from Taiwan to give to one of his children, postal service spokesman Gus Ruiz said.
Ruiz said the substance was yellow and leaking from a package, and said it may have been some sort of tea.
The three employees suffered symptoms including sore throats and headaches, San Jose fire Capt. Mary Gutierrez said. Ruiz said they also reported experiencing nausea and coughing.
The building was evacuated and 63 postal employees were told to wait inside Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority buses half a block away, Gutierrez said.
The evacuation was lifted at about 10:30 a.m., and authorities are reopening a four-block area around the post office between Market and First and St. James and St. John streets, Ruiz said.
Postal workers have returned to the office, which has reopened. Ruiz said the incident put mail delivery behind schedule by several hours.
He said that although occurrences like this morning's are not common, "there is some kind of situation somewhere in the country every day, we all have the same kind of protocol."
The package that contained the herbal remedy has been turned over to the family that ordered it.
Bay City News