Municipal Government

Ricin on Two Suspicious Letters in Spokane Washington

May 20 2013
By Neal Tepel

Spokane, Washington – The Postal Service has informed the American Postal Workers Union and local postal workers on May 15 that preliminary lab tests indicated the presence of ricin on two suspicious letters in Spokane Washington. The letters are being analyzed and tested further for hazardous material.

One letter was addressed to the Spokane Post Office; the other was addressed to a federal judge in Spokane. Both letters were postmarked May 14.

A statement from the postal services stated that "We have no reason to believe that any employees are at risk from handling the suspect letters as they passed through the mailstream in Spokane. The substance involved was not in a form that could be inhaled or otherwise readily ingested.

If anyone were to inhale a quantity of ricin large enough to produce symptoms, they most likely would include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing and would appear within 24 hours. If you have not experienced such symptoms, you should not be concerned. If you have, we urge you to let your supervisor
know and see your doctor promptly for an evaluation."

Commenting on the incident, APWU President Cliff Guffey said, the union is monitoring the situation closely. "Our
members' safety is our primary concern." The union will provide updates as more information becomes available, said Gufffey.

May 19, 2013

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