Another Ricin Incident: Suspicious Letters to NYC, DC Postmarked in Shreveport

From the American Postal Workers Union:

Two suspicious letters, one to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and another to an address in Washington DC, are being tested for ricin, the Postal Service has notified the APWU. Both letters were postmarked in Shreveport LA on May 20. The Washington DC letter indicated the presence of ricin in preliminary tests; the New York letter is similar, but has not tested positive.

“Further analysis is now being conducted in a specially-equipped laboratory,” the USPS said in a Mandatory Stand-Up Talk [PDF] given to employees in the New York and Washington Districts on May 28 and 29. “In addition, law enforcement officials are in the process of searching to determine if there may be additional letters.

“We have no reason to believe that any employees are at risk from handling the suspect letter as it passed through the mailstream,” management told employees in the Stand-Up Talk. “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,” management’s Stand-Up Talk continued. “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.”

The APWU will monitor the situation closely, said APWU President Cliff Guffey. “We will do everything we can to protect the safety of our members,” he said. “That is our #1 concern.”