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No Powdery Substance Found at Ashdale Plaza

DALE CITY, Va. — A Postal Service investigation indicates there was no white powdery substance found at Ashdale Plaza.

The shopping center on Dale Boulevard at Interstate 95, across from a K-Mart store, in Dale City, was evacuated late Monday morning. A woman who opened a piece of mail, an advertisement that was sent to multiple businesses in the shopping plaza, thought she spotted white powder inside the piece of mail and then called 911.

Anthrax sent through the mail to members of Congress and to media outlets just days after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks claimed the lives of five people and injured several others. A scientist from Fort Detrick, Md. became the focus of a years-long investigation into the anthrax attacks, and later took his own life in 2008.

On Monday, there was no sign of any white powdery substance at the shopping center, which includes a Goodwill retail store, restaurant, animal hospital, and a bank.

“We respond to these types of threats often and you plan for the worse and hope for the best,” said Postal Inspector spokesman Tom Rouellette.

Officials did not identify the woman who called 911 or the business where she works, but said she did the right thing to report what she thought was a suspicious piece of mail.

In the end, no one was injured. Several Postal Inspectors who work throughout the Northern Virginia area were able to respond to the call for help to assist local police.

The shopping center was reopened Monday afternoon and police and fire and rescue crews cleared the scene.

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