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.