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Deadly Poison Found in U.S. Senate

Posted February. 03, 2004 22:51,   


The U.S. Capitol Police is investigating toxic white powder found in the U.S. Senate building on Monday (local time). Tests on the white powder indicate presence of the ricin, a deadly toxin that causes severe respiratory failure if inhaled.

“Suspicious white powder was found around 3 p.m. in a mailroom of the Senate Office building, and it tested positive for the ricin in most of the eight experiments conducted,” said U.S. Capitol Police Chef Terrance Gainer at a press conference.

Sixteen people were working on the fourth floor where the white powder was found. They were decontaminated, and no one was harmed. Details about the white powder and envelope were not identified.

Ricin is an extremely deadly poison derived from the castor bean plant and has no known antidote. One milligram of ricin, if inhaled, can cause death in 36 to 72 hours from failure of the lung, liver, kidney, and immune system with flu symptoms such as fever and vomiting.

“This is a criminal action, and the matter will be investigated,” said Bill Frist, Republican Majority Leader (Tenn.). Police will report on further investigation results on Tuesday.

The U.S. was seized with anthrax fear when anthrax-laced letters were delivered to government buildings and media outlets mostly in Washington D.C. and New York from September to November in 2001. Twenty-two people were infected at that time.

Jung-Ahn Kim credo@donga.com