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'Unkown substance' temporarily closes Bremerton ferry terminal

An unknown substance discovered at approximately 9 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 14, closed the Bremerton Transportation Center for several hours while officials and hazardous materials crews investigated the scene.

The substance was found in a womens restroom at the ferry terminal. With crews investigating the scene wearing bulky protective suits, some witnesses reportedly thought the substance was the deadly virus anthrax.

“It was not anthrax. We have to refer to what it really is — an unknown white substance,” Phyllis Mann, director of Kitsap County Department of Emergency Management, said Monday.

The evacuation did not interfere with Bremerton-Seattle ferry service or Kitsap Transit bus service.

Mann said hazardous materials teams from Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Subase Bangor tested the white powdery substance, which was spread between two restroom stalls. Tests determined the powder was not anthrax and the building re-opened at 3:18 p.m.

“We eliminated the anthrax threat immediately,” she said. “It was probably foot powder.”

Mann said recent high-profile events in Florida, New York and Washington D.C. have local residents on edge about unknown powders.

“Before Sept. 11, we would have told the janitor to clean it up,” Mann said. “Unfortunately, we have to take things a little more serious now.”

Washington State Patrol Trooper Glenn Tyrrell said Monday that the number of calls reporting suspicious substances has increased in recent weeks.

“We have had other reports of suspicious substances from a wrecking yard in Belfair to the post office in Port Townsend,” Tyrrell said, noting that there have been an increased number of calls reporting everything from suspicious people to suspicious vehicles. “People have a heightened state of awareness and that’s what we have asked from them.”

Mann said law enforcement officials are treating every report of a suspicious substance seriously.

“We are investigating every suspicious call that comes in,” she said. “If you call in, a police officer will show up on your doorstep.”

Anyone with information about the substance found at the transportation center is asked to call the Washington State Patrol at 478-4646.

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