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Stanford Report, October 24, 2001

Substance not biohazard; 651 Serra to open at noon Wednesday


A building on campus was evacuated late Monday morning after an employee opened a piece of mail containing a suspicious substance and a threatening letter. Test results released Tuesday afternoon revealed that the substance was not hazardous.

A staff member at the Risk Management Office at 651 Serra St. opened the envelope just after 11 a.m. Monday morning. Employees immediately notified campus police, and the three people who work in the office suite that received the suspicious mail were treated by the Department of Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S). Stanford police and other authorities also responded.

Provost John Etchemendy notified employees on Tuesday afternoon that initial laboratory results showed "that the substance is not a biological or chemical hazard." The lab indicated that it might be "a food product."

Employees who work at 651 Serra St. were told to work from home on Tuesday; those who could not work at home were redirected to other office space on campus. The building remained closed to workers all day as EH&S swept the site to check for contaminants; they found none. They sanitized air ducts in the office suite affected, and HVAC filters were replaced.

Etchemendy said that the building would officially reopen at noon on Wednesday, at which time employees who work there should return to their offices. The provost added, "I am proud that both the employees who work in 651 Serra and the staff who responded to the incident Monday reacted with tremendous care, professionalism and presence of mind."