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Powder scare at USPS facility caused by baby formula

With awareness heightened because recent events in the nation’s capitol, a Southwest Side postal facility was evacuated Thursday morning after a powdery substance was found, but it turned out to be baby formula.

The U.S. Postal Service’s Southwest Carrier Annex at 4301 W. 69th St. in the West Lawn neighborhood was evacuated for about an hour after a worker at the facility saw a powdery substance near some mail, USPS spokesman Mark Reynolds said.

Dispatch reports said the Chicago Fire Department responded to a report of a suspicious package just before 9 a.m., and a Level 1 HazMat was called after the powder was discovered.

The facility, where about 100 mail carriers and sorters handle mail for the 60629 and 60632 ZIP Codes, was evacuated as U.S. Postal Inspection Service agents investigated the package.

“The evacuation did not last very long,” Reynolds said. “It was quickly determined to be baby formula.”

He said everyone was back in the building, which is not open to the public, by about 10 a.m.

Dispatch reports said three people, including two postal workers and a police officer, were taken to a hospital in good condition for examination.

Reynolds said three people were hospitalized as a “precautionary only” and were treated and released.

While there has not been a bump in security following the recent incidents of mail containning toxic substances being found at a mail facility near Washington, D.C., Reynolds said there is an increased awareness at local mail facilities.

“The main thing we have been doing is to remind all employees to be extra mindful of anything that might seem suspicious,” Reynold said.

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