Ricin Letter Scares

Postal Service

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KIMT NEWS 3 – Earlier this week, President Obama and a number of Senate officers faced quite the mail scare. The letters addressed to the President and State Senators were found to be laced with the deadly poison ricin.

The ricin mail scares earlier this week may have come as a shock to many of us, but for local Postmaster, Scott Pardoe, it’s just part of the job.

He said, “Our mail goes down through Waterloo. They have a biohazard detector system and that works over the top when mail is canceled, to see if they can detect anything suspicious.”

Pardoe and other postal workers are trained to look for certain red flags.

He said, “We get leaky packages at times, things that may have substances on them that have a different odor, something that might be hand written, no return address.”

For local law makers, receiving a dangerous, or poison letter is a scary situation to think about.

State Senator, Amanda Ragan said, “I’m always surprised, because coming from North Iowa, I’m always surprised by things like that, so that’s the first reaction.”
Scott says the ricin incidents are a very extreme examples of hazardous mail, but if postal workers do happen to see something suspicious, the packages go right into a special box.
Pardoe said, “Every office has their own hazmat team. Like we have one here, it’s very local and they take care of stuff that’s on a very small level, but if it’s a larger level, they’d possibly bring somebody from the outside, like a biohazard team.”

Senator Ragan says these incidents are something to be aware of, but you can’t live in fear.

She said, “These kinds of things would make you worry about everything. You have to focus on doing the job and moving forward, because if you focus on these kinds of instances, you wouldn’t have people running for office.”

And she points out while the public can voice their opinions, there are less dangerous ways to make their voices heard.

She said, “We just hope people respect what we do and can disagree with us or approve of us in a civilized manner.”

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