UPDATE: Mystery powder found at Surrey Tax Centre 'benign'

Surrey Tax Centre.  - Tom Zillich
Surrey Tax Centre.
— image credit: Tom Zillich

SURREY — The suspicious white powder found inside an envelope of the Surrey Tax Centre this morning turned out to be benign.

"We will take steps to see into who put it there," Surrey RCMP Sergeant Alanna Dunlop said. She said the "non-hazardous" powder, the nature of which has not yet been revealed except that it isn't dangerous, was contained in an envelope and found in the mailroom."

Surrey Fire Chief Len Garis said earlier this morning he hoped the mysterious white powder his team investigated at the tax centre in Whalley was the result of a prank.

"We're hoping it's a prank. We don't see them often," he said, recalling post-Sept. 11, 2001 anthrax scares.

Nineteen staff members at the centre were isolated in a containment area while the fire department used a spectrum analyzer on site to determine what the powder was.

Surrey's Tax Centre, at 9755 King George Boulevard, is one of three sites nationally that will be converted from a processing centre into a national verification and collection centre. The other two are in Shawinigan, Quebec and St. John's, Newfoundland.

Blair Kesteven, a City of Surrey spokesman, said authorities "are working on clearing the scene now."

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