Dec. 11, 2008 — Envelopes mailed Thursday to the Lieutenant Governor's Offices on St. Thomas and St. Croix contained a powdery white substance that spurred an anthrax scare and interrupted service on both islands, though it was later determined the packages contained only flour.
"The incidents fit the profile of what has been taking place since Monday across America," Government House spokesman Jean P. Greaux Jr. said Thursday evening. "Six or seven governors in the states have received similar packages, with Hawaii receiving one only this morning."
The envelopes were addressed to former Lt. Gov. Vargrave Richards, Greaux added. Some kind of document was enclosed in each package, but no information on what the document contained has been released.
The first envelope was received around 12:40 p.m. at the Lieutenant Governor's Office on Kongens Gade on St. Thomas. Employees contacted 911 and were instructed to stay inside the building. Emergency responders subsequently secured the area and after conducting an investigation, concluded that the substance inside the envelopes was flour, according to a Thursday news release.
An all-clear was given around 2 p.m., around the same time that a similar incident was taking place at the Office of the Tax Assessor — a division within the Lieutenant Governor's Office — in Christiansted on St. Croix.
Employees in the St. Croix building contacted the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA), whose officials reported the incident to the V.I. Police Department, the release said. Law enforcement officers again secured the area, and upon further investigation, found that the second package also contained flour.
They gave the all-clear around 4:30 p.m.
Since the package came through the mail, officials from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service took the lead in containing and safeguarding the premises, Greaux said. Personnel from VITEMA, VIPD, the Health Department, Fire Services and the V.I. National Guard also assisted in the efforts.
"I applaud the efforts of the emergency responders and their quick and professional actions in resolving this matter," Lt. Gov. Gregory R. Francis said in a statement Thursday. "We cannot assume that any potentially life-threatening situation is a hoax and we must take all precautions to ensure the safety of the employees and the community."
Follow-up investigations will be conducted to determine where the envelopes came from, but it is not known who sent them, according to Shawna Richards, spokeswoman for the Lieutenant Governor's Office.
"Luckily there were no injuries," she said. The Office of the Lieutenant Governor will be back to its normal operating hours on Friday.
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