Unidentified powder prompts evacuation of Port Coquitlam post office

Three people at the facility came into contact with the unknown powder and were sent to hospital

Dozens of post office workers in Port Coquitlam were given a scare Tuesday morning when a letter passing through a sorting facility began leaking powder. 

“It was discovered open and ripped and somebody handling it got the powder on them,” said PoCo Fire Chief Nick Delmonico. 

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Three people at the facility came into contact with the unknown powder and were sent to hospital, he added.

Coquitlam RCMP responded with multiple units while Port Coquitlam Fire and Rescue sent three trucks, including their hazardous materials (HAZMAT) team. 

“The problem with those things is it's very difficult at the time to determine what the substance is because it's quite hard to test and it takes a bit of time,” said Delmonico.

So police tracked the package manifest back to its origin and after talking to the sender and the person who was to receive it, they discovered it was a gluten free protein powder shipped from China. 

Delmonico said the Port Coquitlam firefighters get these kinds of calls from time to time and must take them seriously.

“It's the best way to go until we make a determination,” he said.

“Unfortunately, when we have those [kinds of calls] and we don’t want to lose, we have to treat them like the worst case scenario.”

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