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Press Release
March 03, 2008
Oregon National Guard unit responds to possible anthrax scare in Albany
 
One of the newer units in the Oregon National Guard worked closely with local first-responders and civilian emergency agencies during an incident in Albany, Ore., today.

Members of the Oregon National Guard's 102nd Civil Support Team were called to the Linn County Courthouse located at 300 SW 4th Ave. in Albany, after workers found two envelopes containing a suspicious white powder.

Initial tests found the samples to be a sugar-like substance. According to an FBI spokesperson, definitive tests will be available in 48 hours.

One envelope was located outside the rear of the building near an air-conditioning unit, and another envelope was located in an office inside the building. Local authorities cordoned off access to the building, shutting down surrounding streets.

Lt. Col. Steve Ferrell, 102nd CST Commander, said the unit's frequent training with simulated anthrax scenarios over the past several years has adequately prepared them to assist first-responders during today's incident.

"Anthrax training seems to be the most common scenario," he said. "They've done it quite a few times, so they're very proficient in this type of scenario."

The CST worked closely with the Albany Fire Department, Linn-Benton Regional Region-5 HAZMAT team, the Linn County Sherriff's office, and representatives from the FBI.

"We're here to do whatever we can to support them," Ferrell said.

Two CST members donned HAZMAT suits before taking samples from the envelope located outside the building. The sample was secured, and transported to Hillsboro for analysis.

Custody of the sample was turned over to Craig Mueller, Special Agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Portland, Ore., who escorted the sample to the lab.

Linn County Undersheriff, Will McAnulty, said the inter-agency relationships are critical during incidents like this.

"We couldn't do this without all of us working together," he said. "We really appreciate all the assistance from the National Guard."

Ferrell said the CST has the distinct advantage of devoting all their training cycles to preparing for incidents like this.

"We have a luxury that most of the HAZMAT teams or fire fighters don't, in that it's our full time job to train for these things," Ferrell said. "(In many cases), we bring skills that add to their capabilities and we're very happy to be able to do that."

By early afternoon, a thorough sweep of the building found no more suspicious packages. Federal and local authorities will continue their investigation into the incident. If convicted, the individuals who left the envelopes face possible prosecution under federal anti-terrorism laws and civil penalties including being held financially responsible for the cost of the emergency response.

Photos:

080203F-1639-C-103: Oregon National Guard 102nd Civil Support Team members, Staff Sgt. Jarrell E. Rysavy, (right), and 2nd Lt. Richard A. Hosmer, consult prior to Rysavy and Sgt. Joseph K. Plueard, obtaining a sample from one of two envelopes discovered by workers, prompting the shut down of the surrounding streets. Members of the CST obtained samples, which was taken to Hillsboro for analysis. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs Office)

080203F-1639-C-160: Oregon National Guard 102nd Civil Support Team member 1st Lt. Jessy Claerhout (lower right), consults with CST Commander, Lt. Col. Steve Ferrell (lower left), before Staff Sgt. Jarrell E. Rysavy and Sgt. Joseph K. Plueard, both of the Oregon National Guard's 102nd Civil Support Team, obtained a sample from one of two envelopes discovered by workers, prompting evacuation of the building. Members of the CST obtained samples, which was taken to Hillsboro for analysis. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs Office)

080203F-1639-C-205: Albany firefighters and members of the Linn-Benton Regional Region-5 HAZMAT team watch as two Staff Sgt. Jarrell E. Rysavy and Sgt. Joseph K. Plueard, both of the Oregon National Guard's 102nd Civil Support Team, make their way toward the Linn County Courthouse in Albany, Ore., on March 3, 2008. Two envelopes containing a suspicious white powder were discovered by workers, prompting evacuation of the building. Members of the CST obtained samples, which was taken to Hillsboro for analysis. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs Office)

080203F-1639-C-219: Maj. Randy R. Cote monitors Staff Sgt. Jarrell E. Rysavy and Sgt. Joseph K. Plueard, of the Oregon National Guard's 102nd Civil Support Team, obtain a sample of white powder found in an envelope outside the Linn County Courthouse in Albany, Ore., the morning of March 3, 2008. Members of the unit worked alongside local authorities and first responders, obtaining a sample, which was taken to Hillsboro for analysis. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs Office)

080203F-1639-C-285: FBI Special Agent, Craig G. Mueller, of the Portland FBI Office, (in blue jacket) takes custody of a sample of white powder found in an envelope outside the Linn County Courthouse in Albany, Ore., the morning of March 3, 2008. Members of the Oregon National Guard's 102nd Civil Support Team worked alongside local authorities and first responders, obtaining a sample, which was taken to Hillsboro for analysis. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs Office)

NOTE: Video clips are also available online at www.oregon.gov/OMD/Videos.shtm.  Look for "Linn County HAZMAT Scare"
 
Contact Info:
 
Oregon National Guard Public Affairs Office
503-584-3917
or
Maj. Michael S. Braibish at
503-932-5805