Saturday, February 25, 2006

Toxic Exposure in UT Dorm

According to a report in the Austin American-Statesman, a white powdery substance containing the toxic poison Ricin has been discovered in a University of Texas dormitory.

The dorm was sanitized, and the substance was sent to a laboratory for testing and came back positive for ricin Friday night. University officials said they had not yet determined where it came from.
UT campus newspaper The Daily Texan has more details and a gallery of photos.

Law enforcement officials have taped off a second-floor Moore-Hill dorm room and a first-floor laundry room Saturday after investigators found traces of the deadly toxin Ricin in the building.

A Weapons of Mass Destruction Operations Unit picked up a sample of the toxin in Austin Saturday and will take it to a government facility in Quantico, Va. for more definitive testing, FBI special agent Rene Salinas said. [...snip...]

Two female students from Moore-Hill dormitory were still being treated late Friday for Ricin exposure after coming into contact with the toxin Thursday afternoon, law enforcement and UT officials said.
The white powder was initially discovered in a roll of quarters one student had opened in the laundry room. Authorities have said that neither of the students that were exposed to the powder is showing any symptoms, although both are still being watched and tended to off-campus.

According to authorities, no other students are exhibiting symptoms of exposure to Ricin, a protein-inhibitor that can lead to death or serious injury, which has been used as a biological warfare agent.
The UT Office of Public Affairs has released this news release about the incident. For more information about Ricin, visit the CDC's website.

Hat-tip: Ian at Expose the Left.

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin has more links, including a chronology of events (up to 2004) involving ricin. Jason of Generation Why has pictures and more reporting.

UPDATE #2: 02/27/2006 - After more extensive tests by FBI experts, officials announced on Sunday that the white powder found on campus did not contain Ricin after all.
"We don't know what it is, but it's not anything hazardous," said FBI spokesman Rene Salinas, who added that the agency won't conduct additional tests on the substance.


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