PORTLAND, Ore. – Officials at Portland International Airport determined that white powder found in an envelope with the letters "anthrax" pasted on it was harmless. Later, officials determined powder found in another envelope at the Hilton downtown was also harmless.
Both incidents were reported at about 5 p.m. Wednesday.
According to the Port of Portland, the incident there was in a Port of Portland office building. There was no impact to airport operations or passenger safety. Officials there also said the incident was in the new Port of Portland headquarters on the 9th floor of the long-term parking garage. The top three floors were evacuated.
According to Port of Portland spokesman Steve Johnson, an employee opened the envelope and discovered white powder inside.
The incident at the Hilton downtown at Southwest Sixth also involved a letter with suspicious powder. That letter or envelope also had the word “anthrax” on it but officials would not say if it was in the same style as the letter at the airport.
According to Paul Corah with Portland Fire and Rescue, the letters on the airport envelope were cut out from a magazine.
The incidents caused fire officials to send half its hazmat team to the Hilton and the other half to the airport, according to Corah.
No evacuations were ordered for the Hilton and guests were allowed inside but through an alternative entrance.
An employee in the Hilton's executive offices found the envelope. That office was evacuated and the employee was isolated, Corah said.
Sources told KATU that in the two cases Wednesday – at the airport and at the Hilton – the white powder was discovered when someone removed two pieces of paper from an envelope.
Both envelopes contained a letter, but it is not known if the letters were threatening in nature.
The FBI and Portland police are investigating.
On Tuesday, the third floor of the Lloyd Center mall in Northeast Portland was evacuated for about an hour after a suspicious substance was found in a letter in the mall's mail room.
Seven workers were quarantined as the hazmat team worked to determine if the substance was hazardous. Officials were able to determine it was harmless.
On April 26, there was another scare concerning white powder found in an envelope at the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse.
In that incident, three people were exposed to the powder. It too was determined to be harmless.
Law enforcement officials are working to determine if the four white powder scare cases are connected, officials said.
"It's certainly a possibility," FBI spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele told KATU. It's something we're obviously investigating."
In all four cases the substances were brought to the Oregon State Public Health Lab for testing. The lab tests will determine if the substances are identical, which will help link or separate the cases.
Officials say they are concerned there could be more envelopes out there that have yet to be discovered, given the timing.
"It's something that we're prepared for," said Steele. "Though, it's speculative at this point."