Volume 95, Issue 25

Wednesday, October 17, 2001
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Anthrax hysteria strikes London

The world at war

'Mike the knife' cuts himself

Unique war insight from USC GM

Vampires, ghosts not educational

Lefties concerned by anti-terror movement

News briefs

Anthrax hysteria strikes London

By Erin Conway-Smith
Gazette Staff

London has not been immune from anthrax fears, but local officials said they are prepared to deal with any possible threat.

On Monday, a postal outlet on Highbury Avenue received a suspicious letter addressed to ABC news anchor Peter Jennings.

The letter had no return address and there was a yellow substance on the back of the envelope, said Const. Ryan Holland of the London Police Department.

Police seized the letter and have sent it to health officials for analysis. No white powder was found in the envelope, Holland said.

There have been five suspected cases of anthrax contamination in London, he added.

On Monday, police confiscated a plastic container with white powder in it from the mailroom of St. Joseph's Hospital. Another plastic container with white powder was taken by police at a plant in London's East end.

The details of the other two incidents could not be confirmed.

Holland said police response to suspected cases of anthrax exposure is determined on a case-by-case basis.

As of yet, London Fire Department's Hazmat team – the highest level of response to situations involving hazardous materials – has not been called to a site of suspected anthrax contamination, Holland said.

University Police Department Insp. Bob Earle said there have been no reports of suspected anthrax exposure at Western.

"Not even [reports of] chalk dust on an envelope," he said.

Western's hazardous materials officer, Dave Griffith, said the university is prepared to deal with anthrax contamination as part of its program for dealing with a variety of hazardous situations, including intentional and unintentional spills and releases of biological, chemical and radiological materials.

"Western is safer than most places [as] we've been trained and equipped to handle these situations because of [Western's] labs," he said.

Western has the capacity to go up to an A-level response, which would mean the donning of full-body protective suits, Griffith added.

Alex Kulczycki, proprietor of the university's mailroom in the Stevenson-Lawson building, said while he has thought about the chance of receiving mail laced with anthrax, he feels the risk is small.

"Yes, there's concerns, but we've always been on the lookout for weird letters," he said, adding there is a worse chance of dying in a car accident than contracting anthrax.

"I'm never paranoid."

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