White powder closes House of Representatives chamber

As a precaution after finding a suspicious white powder on its floor, the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives was cleared by U.S. Capitol Police on September 13.

The powder later proved to be entirely harmless, according to the AFP. Capital Police let people back into the building later in the afternoon.

“Just before noon, we discovered a powdery substance on the floor of the House," Sergeant Kimberly Schneider of the U.S. Capitol Police told the AFP. “The only people that were in there were a few House pages, who were evacuated out of an abundance of caution, and the immediate area was secured while the powder was tested.”

By around 1 p.m., Schneider said that nothing hazardous was found and that the all clear could be given.

Extra caution has been given with regards to such incidents since the weeks following September 11, 2001, when envelopes that contained anthrax spores were sent to the offices of two Democratic senators as well as several major media outlets.

Since that time, white powder scares have proliferated across the country. The most recent major scare took place in North Texas, where 25 envelopes filled with white powder were delivered to schools, churches, a mosque and several high-tech companies.