The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said on Tuesday that a package that initially tested positive for sarin at Facebook's mail facility in Menlo Park, California did not contain any dangerous substance. The FBI and its law enforcement partners “thoroughly tested the items in question and determined them to be non-hazardous,” the agency said in a statement.
A mail facility at Facebook headquarters was evacuated after a routine inspection found a package reportedly containing traces of the deadly nerve agent sarin. Law enforcement authorities put the site under quarantine on Monday after conducting additional tests. Facebook spokesperson Anthony Harrison said four buildings were evacuated. The suspicious package was delivered to one of Facebook's mail rooms.
However, workers who handled the package did not report any ill effects. There were no reports of injuries, Menlo Park Fire Marshal Jon Johnston said. Incoming mail undergoing routine processing by machine tested positive for sarin, he said.
"Authorities have confirmed test results were negative for any potentially dangerous substance and the buildings have been cleared for re-population," Facebook spokesperson Anthony Harrison said in a statement Tuesday to a local newspaper.
According to Reuters, the social media giant routinely checks all packages and had initiated a standard safety protocol, Jon Johnston, fire marshal for the city of Menlo Park in California. Johnston further added that teams worked into the early hours on Tuesday to clear the scene.
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sarin is a chemical warfare agent that is a clear, colorless, odorless and tasteless liquid. It can evaporate into the environment, prompting symptoms within seconds. A single drop of sarin on the skin can cause sweating and muscle twitching, and exposure to large doses can result in paralysis and respiratory failure leading to death.
However, the CDC says people who are mildly exposed usually recover completely. Last year, Facebook's main campus in Menlo Park received a bomb threat that led to the evacuation of several buildings. However, no bomb was found.
(With inputs from AP)