NEW YORK -- There was a brief scare Sunday afternoon after two workers became sick after opening a package in a mailroom at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport. Initial reports said the two men were exposed to a dangerous nerve gas, but thankfully that wasn't actually the case.
Two Customs agents were forced to seek medical treatment and the airport's central mail facility was locked down by the Port Authority officials, with an assist from the FBI "out of an abundance of caution," Sunday after opening a package from China. There was an initial scare after ABC News and the New York Daily News reported the package that caused two workers to get sick initially tested positive for a dangerous potential weapon. "The package from China tentatively tested positive for VX nerve gas, which can be used as a weapon of mass destruction, according to a law enforcement source," the Daily News reported, while ABC News was much more cautious: "Field tests showed an initial finding of nerve gas, though authorities believe it's a low likelihood that it's actually nerve gas," they said. Terrifying, right? Everyone's still on edge because of the terror threat situation, and this played right those fears.
But after the FBI performed more tests on the package, tension subsided when it was revealed there was no nerve gas at all. "There were initial reports that the package contained nerve gas, but officials have said it’s unlikely that the substance is the chemical weapon," CBS New York reports. It turns out what made the two men sick was actually organophosphate, an ingredient in soda pop. "Phosphoric acid is a colorless liquid with a syrupy consistency used as an acidifying agent to give colas their flavor," CNN explains. Newsday reports Port Authority officials dropped the package into a 55 gallon drum, just to be safe.
The two men are fine and receiving treatment at Franklin General Hospital. The other mail area employees are still being screened by the authorities to make sure they weren't infected, too. Soda pop is still delicious, nerve gas is still scary, and everything is alright with the world. And the good news: the scare didn't delay any flights.
Reprinted with permission from the Atlantic Wire. The original story can be found here.
This article was published in Global Security Newswire, which is produced independently by National Journal Group under contract with the Nuclear Threat Initiative. NTI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group working to reduce global threats from nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.