Public health chief says powder is benign

The FBI says four Alaska school districts received letters containing a suspicious white powder this week.

Juneau’s came in the mail to the school district central office on Wednesday. FBI spokesman Eric Gonzalez says Thorne Bay, Tanana and Chugach school districts also received similar letters.

“These letters are typically addressed to administrators or the principal, coming from Texas without a return address,” Gonzalez says.

Like Juneau, the buildings where the letters were received were evacuated and haz-mat teams called in to test the substance, or send it to the state crime lab in Anchorage.

Dr. Bernard Jilly is chief of the Alaska Public Health Laboratory. He says tests show the powder is not infectious or toxic.

As of Thursday afternoon, the Thorne Bay envelope had not been received at the lab. Juneau’s Capital City Fire and Rescue hazardous materials team went to that Prince of Wales Island community on Thursday to help.

Jilly says his office receives several pieces of suspicious mail each year for testing.

The FBI’s Gonzalez says school districts in the Lower 48 this week also received suspicious letters containing a white powder.

Recent headlines

  • An Alaska Airlines plane at Juneau International Airport.

    Alaska Airlines pilots plan picket over lack of compensation

    Alaska Airlines pilots have reached a breaking point in negotiations with the company, and now have plans to picket outside Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. The pilots plan to picket starting at 1 p.m. Monday outside the airport in Anchorage.
  • Obadiah Jenkins tries to help Daniel Hartung pull himself from Six-Mile Creek in Hope. (Photo courtesy James Bennett)

    Homer resident saves kayaker’s life on Six-Mile Creek

    Jenkins was taking a practice run through the class four rapids when a bystander filming the event, noticed another participant, Daniel Hartung, 64, of Indian Valley, flipped out of his kayak and became pinned under a log.
  • Vigor Alaska Shipyard Development director Doug Ward talks with Marine Transportation advisory board member Greg Wakefield inside the not-quite-finished Alaska Class ferry Tazlina. (Photo by Leila Kheiry/KRBD)

    Alaska class ferry Tazlina on track at Ketchikan shipyard

    The Tazlina is the first of two new Alaska Class ferries that the Ketchikan Vigor Alaska shipyard is building for the state. Its two halves are complete and welded together, and shipyard workers are busy getting interior spaces done.
  • The Matanuska sits in drydock for maintenance.

    Fall-winter-spring ferry bookings begin

    The Alaska Marine Highway is taking reservations for October through April sailings. The schedule changed so the Matanuska can get new engines.