Suspicious packages, with white powder spilling out of at least one of them, caused scares and temporary closures on Monday at Alaska offices of all three of the state's members of Congress.
The packages were received at the Fairbanks offices of Senator Mark Begich, a Democrat, and Senator Lisa Murkowski, a Republican, and at the Anchorage office of Representative Don Young, a Republican.
Local law enforcement officers responded to each of the sites, said Lieutenant Dave Parker, Anchorage Police Department spokesman. The FBI is leading the inquiry into the incidents, Parker said.
The package sent to Begich's office was partially opened, said Julie Hasquet, the senator's press secretary.
"White powder came out as the tape was coming off," she said.
A staff member had the package contained within a plastic bag, as is her habit, so any loose powder stayed in that bag, Hasquet said.
The staff member was examined at a local hospital and released with no apparent ill effects, Hasquet said.
"It doesn't appear to be anything more than a hoax, but we don't have that confirmed," she said.
The package had a return label with an Arizona address, Hasquet said.
A staff member in Murkowski's Fairbanks office also may have started to open the package delivered there, Parker said.
Discovery of the packages prompted closure of the entire Fairbanks federal building, where the senators have their Fairbanks offices.
The floor containing Young's Anchorage office, located in an office tower in the downtown district, was evacuated and closed for a few hours while hazardous materials workers from the Anchorage Fire Department examined the site, Parker said.
The floor is now considered safe for the return of workers, Parker said.
Young was not at the Anchorage office when the package was discovered, he said.
Begich was traveling and not in his Fairbanks office at the time either, Hasquet said.
© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.