Traffic Alert: Pennsylvania Ave and 9th Street NW About to Reopen
UPDATE (2:45 p.m.): Streets remain closed, but the fire department has given the all clear for a suspicious package that has snarled traffic downtown for the past three hours. Authorities say they will open to normal traffic soon.
Someone placed a few petri dishes in the night deposit bank at the Wachovia branch at 801 Pennsylvania Avenue -- just across the street from FBI headquarters, according to D.C. Fire and E.M.S. spokesman Pete Piringer.
D.C. police, assisted by FBI officers, blocked off the streets around the area for (now) about three hours. Authorities quickly ruled out explosives, but a Hazardous Materials team tested the petri dishes for biological contaminants, Piringer said, adding that the field tests all came out negative.
The petri dishes will still go to a laboratory where more extensive testing can be done over the next 24 to 48 hours, Piringer said. Bank employees, who discovered the dishes while processing the night's deposits, called police around 11 a.m. Employees were quarantined while the HazMat team did its tests. The employees were told to wash their hands and given the opportunity to take a change of clothes provided by the fire department, Piringer said.
An investigation into who put the dishes there is ongoing.
ORIGINAL POST (12:31 p.m.): A suspicious package investigation has closed Pennsylvania Avenue from 7th to 9th sts NW. In addition, 9th Street remains closed from E Street NW to Constitution ave. Officials are not making estimates as to when the closure will end. Commuters are warned to avoid the area.
September 29, 2009; 12:31 PM ET
Categories: Commuting , Congestion , Driving , Safety
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