A deadly nerve agent was found in Facebook’s Menlo Park, Calif. mail sorting facility on Monday, prompting evacuation.
The mail sorting machines flagged a package containing the nerve agent sarin, a deadly man-made chemical agent containing no odor or color, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.
A Facebook mail facility in Menlo Park, California, was evacuated after an item tested positive for the nerve agent sarin. No employees were exposed, and more testing is being done. https://t.co/NkAKB2gOky pic.twitter.com/Lp6MowHqJs
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) July 1, 2019
A routine test revealed the chemical at the facility.
Menlo Park Fire Marshal Jon Johnston told CNN that no employees were exposed to the chemical and the building was completely evacuated.
Johnston indicated that a false positive result was possible.
Fire officials say routine tests for chemicals detected the presence of sarin in a #Facebook mail facility. It’s possible that the detection is a false positive. We expect to get a briefing from @menlofire within the hour. Facebook officials have yet to comment. #ABC7Now pic.twitter.com/BcRnQePuYW
— Chris Nguyen (@ChrisNguyenABC7) July 1, 2019
Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman said an open-air test yielded a negative result for sarin.
“Sometimes machines make mistakes,” he said, according to LA Times. “This is a standard package-handling call we’re dealing with.”
The FBI and the National Guard responded to the scene for further investigation.
Some media reports indicated that two people may have been exposed to the chemical, as ABC7 reported.
HAZMAT SITUATION AT FACEBOOK: Authorities are responding to a hazmat situation near Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, CA. A machine at the company’s mail facility detected the possible presence of sarin gas, local news outlets report. https://t.co/WQhr6Y7kh7
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) July 1, 2019
Sarin, originally created as a pesticide, was used in two terror attacks in Japan in the 1990s, the CDC stated.
Sarin is a clear liquid in its pure form, and can easily evaporate into a vapor.
Exposure from skin or eye contact or inhalation in large doses can cause convulsions, paralysis, and fatal respiratory failure. Exposure to small amounts can produce symptoms similar to that of heat stroke.
Facebook spokesperson Anthony Harrison said, “At 11 a.m. PDT this morning, a package delivered to one of our mailrooms was deemed suspicious. We evacuated four buildings and are conducting a thorough investigation in coordination with local authorities. Authorities have not yet identified the substance found.”