Broken parcel causes shutdown at post office

RED BANK — The Broad Street post office was evacuated for two hours last week after a postal carrier discovered a white, powdery substance leaking from a package.

The suspicious substance, part of a care package being sent to a Marine reservist in Iraq, turned out to be nothing more than baby powder.

The package, which had originated in Massachusetts, was in the process of being shipped back to the Marine Reserve Center in Middletown. The intended recipient of the package had completed his tour of duty and been transferred back to the United States.

At around noon Sept. 23, the postal carrier was loading his truck when he came across the suspicious package. He immediately called the Red Bank Fire Department.

Within minutes, members of the Fire Department responded to the scene at 171 Broad Street.

The department immediately called for a Hazardous Materials team from Fort Monmouth to assist with the call, and ordered the building to be evacuated, according to Fire Chief Frank Woods.

The Red Bank Police Department, the Fire Marshal’s Office, and the Fort Monmouth haz-mat team, as well as the Eatontown Fire Department, which was assisting Fort Monmouth, were also on the scene.

The scene was cleared, and the workers were able to return to the building at around 2 p.m., Woods said.

This is the second time in two years that borough postal workers have come across a package containing a powdery substance.

In November 2001, postal workers were forced to evacuate the office for roughly two hours.

The substance, which was confined to the loading dock area, turned out to be arsenic.

— Sandi Carpello