Capitol Visitor Center flushes "anthrax"

Rather than report a potential bioterrorism emergency to emergency management officers, an employee at the Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C., flushed a white powder from a bag labeled "Anthrax" down a Capitol toilet while hundreds of tourists were present.

The story was first reported by The Hill last week. The Hill reports that, following the flushing, legislators have called for staff to be better trained when faced with a possible terrorists attack.

“Clearly we need to make sure that our visitor guides and supervisors and all of our personnel are familiar with what they should do with a suspicious package or suspicious substance, and that certainly does not include flushing it down the toilet,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), the chairwoman of House Appropriations Committee’s Legislative Branch subcommittee, said, The Hill reports.

According to The Hill, a visitor notified the staff member that a powder-filled bag was found in the Capitol Visitor Center's Exhibition Hall. The staff member - an operational supervisor - then allegedly put on a pair of plastic gloves, got the bag and flushed it down a toilet. An hour later, Capitol Police were told of the incident, The Hill reports.

There were no traces of anthrax found, according to The Hill. Officials, however, were upset by how the emergency was handled.

“There’s no excuse not to notify [Capitol Police] when we know this building is a target, and it’s not like this would be the first time we’ve had an attack of this kind,” Rep Tom Cole (R-Okla.), told The Hill. “There’s no excuse for not taking this situation seriously.”