White powder scare at city office tower

Carla Terry opened an envelope and powder got all over her, prompting the evacuation of the Muncipal Services Building across from City Hall on the morning of May 21, 2010. At left, Terry gets into an ambulance on Arch Street while wearing protective hazmat garb. After being checked out, Terry, in red, was released to the hugs and cheers of coworkers.
Carla Terry opened an envelope and powder got all over her, prompting the evacuation of the Muncipal Services Building across from City Hall on the morning of May 21, 2010. At left, Terry gets into an ambulance on Arch Street while wearing protective hazmat garb. After being checked out, Terry, in red, was released to the hugs and cheers of coworkers. (Peter Mucha)
Posted: May 21, 2010

The discovery of a white powder in the wrong place has prompted a second emergency response in two days in Center City.

Today, the 18-story Municipal Services Building was evacuated after a powder spilled out of an envelope about 9 a.m., officials said.

The evacuation was later limited to the concourse of the tower at 1401 JFK Blvd. and the all-clear was sounded at 10:20 a.m. after it was determined the powder was harmless.

Deputy Fire Commissioner Ernest Hargett said the beige powder spilled out of an envelope in a room where workers open water-bill payments.

The envelope had been damaged and was in a sealed plastic Postal Service bag.

The woman who opened the envelope was taken from the building in a white hazmat-style suit to an ambulance for an on-site examination.

She emerged about an hour later in her street clothes as workers were allowed to return.

On Thursday, the discovery of a white powder inside a balloon at the Liberty Bell Pavilion caused havoc around Independence Mall. The powder was later determined to be flour.

An area around the Mall was closed for three hours after the discovery.

Dolores Curran, a mail room worker, said that in this morning's incident, colleague Carla Terry opened the envelope and "this white stuff, whatever, got all over the front of her and on her hands."

Terry threw the envelope into a trash can and another worker, Eric Waters, tied up the trash bag, Curran said.

Terry went to the ladies room to wash up.

"She was shook up," said Curran.

Waters also was quarantined during the evacuation.

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