BELLEVILLE, Ill. — Three people were taken to the hospital and another 14 were decontaminated after workers in the Scott Air Force base post office suffered nearly simultaneous skin and respiratory reactions at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Col. Michael Hornitschek, 375th Air Mobility Wing commander, said he believes this is an isolated incident and has no reason whatsoever to believe that this is related to the upcoming 9/11 anniversary.
"We don't want to jump to any conclusions. It could be anything in the mail center, it could be the package. It could be a benign shipment someone sent that leaked or broke," Hornitschek said. "It might not be coming from the package itself."
FBI agents were investigating. Postal inspectors were also on site to offer help to Air Force personnel, said Valerie Hughes, spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service.
Building 1650, the base's mail center, was evacuated and three people were taken to Memorial Hospital in Belleville for treatment of skin reactions and respiratory difficulty due to possible chemical exposure, base spokesman Capt. Kathleen Ferrero said. All three reported smelling a chemical shortly before experiencing the reactions.
The other 14 people -- 13 service members and one civilian -- were decontaminated at the base as a precaution and evaluated by medical personnel, according to a base press statement.
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