Anthrax scare closes Tennessee courthouse

An anthrax scare recently forced the closure of the Bradley County Courthouse in Cleveland, Tennessee, after a court clerk opened an envelope containing a white powder.

Local authorities, including a hazardous materials team, the Bradley County Sheriff’s Department and Cleveland Police, responded to the scene and cordoned off the block surrounding the courthouse, according to

Employees who may have been exposed to the powder in the circuit court clerk’s office were taken to a medical van and then to a local hospital. They returned after the courthouse was reopened later in the day, reports.

"The postal service has a piece of equipment that allowed them to actually field test this substance to see if it was a hazardous substance or not,” Bob Gault, a spokesman for the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office, said, according to “The person manning that piece of equipment suited up an in air-tight suit and went into the courthouse office...did the field test and showed it was not hazardous..and that it was, actually, talcum powder."

The envelope containing the powder had the words “state penitentiary” written on one side. The Federal Bureau of Investigation was notified and is currently evaluating the envelope and the powder it contained.