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Lisa Murkowski, Mark Begich, Don Young Receive Suspicious Packages At Alaska Offices

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LISA MURKOWSKI
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee raking member Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) attends a committee hearing on Capitol Hill February 16, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) | Getty

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Suspicious packages were received through the mail Monday by Alaska's three-member congressional delegation and at least two contained a white powder.

The packages were received in the Fairbanks offices of Sens. Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski and the Anchorage office of Rep. Don Young. Begich is a Democrat. Murkowski and Young are Republicans.

Young's office late Monday afternoon issued a statement saying the FBI informed his staff that the powder is a mixture of concrete and not hazardous. Calls to the Anchorage Fire Department and the FBI were not immediately returned. The Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., could not immediately confirm.

The incidents were first reported by the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

Begich spokeswoman Julie Hasquet said a staff member in Fairbanks began to open a box sent by priority and powder spilled out. The staffer was following office procedure by opening the box in a plastic bag, Hasquet said.

"When she took off the tape, some white powder ... came out, enough so that it alerted her to call the security offices in the federal building in Fairbanks," Hasquet said.

The box had an Arizona return address, Hasquet said. The staffer turned over the package to the federal marshal's office, located nearby in the building.

The woman suffered no apparent injuries but was transported by ambulance for medical evaluation, assistant Fairbanks fire chief Ernie Misewicz said. The federal building was evacuated.

Murkowski's office in the same building received a similar package that may not have been opened. Murkowski's press office didn't return phone calls.

In Anchorage, a suspicious package was received by the office of Rep. Don Young, said spokesman Luke Miller in a statement by email. All three congressional members have offices in Peterson Tower in downtown Anchorage.

"A package was sent to Congressman Don Young's Anchorage office that when opened, it was discovered to contain a white substance," Miller said.

Anchorage Fire Department spokesman Al Tamagni referred to the Anchorage package as an envelope. The department took a call on the package just after 1 p.m. and sent over its hazardous material team, which conducted tests for radiation and acidity.

"That all turned up negative," he said.

Two people were in the office.

"They're being isolated right now," Tamagni said. "They're going to be decontaminated and then it will be determined what the next steps will be."

Police and fire officials sealed off the building's sixth floor and hazardous materials responders bagged up and removed items for analysis and possible decontamination.

Tamagni could not say whether the envelopes came from the same source, contained the same material, or were hazardous.

"It could be baby powder. It could be anything," he said.

___

Associated Press writer Mark Thiessen contributed to this story.

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