University investigates hazardous materials report - UPDATED

July 10, 2006 2:45 p.m.

A hazardous materials team was called to the Princeton University campus today to investigate a suspicious substance, but an investigation revealed that the substance posed no threat.

Testing by the Mercer County hazmat unit found that a white powdery substance discovered in a dorm room at Cuyler Hall was a cleanser.

The hazmat team arrived on campus around 11 a.m. Monday after the University's Department of Public Safety took a report from a director of a summer academic program who said he found an envelope with a white powder in his room.

The 31-year old director of the DuBois Scholars Institute told campus police that he discovered the envelope and spilled powder when gathering the clothing he had worn the previous evening.

Because the director did not know how the envelope had come to be in his pocket or the origin of the powder, Public Safety called the hazmat unit.

"This is standard operating procedure that we established after the anthrax scare of 2001," Deputy Chief Charles Davall said. "We take seriously the discovery of any powder of an unidentified nature found in an envelope."

Working in cooperation with the University's Environmental Health and Safety department, the Princeton Borough Police Department, Princeton Fire and Rescue, and the Trenton hazmat team, Public Safety limited access to campus and the area immediately surrounding the Cuyler Hall dormitory during the investigation.

The hazmat team temporarily quarantined six individuals: the institute director; two public safety officers; two University staff members; and a counselor with the summer institute, a residential program for promising high school students that promotes leadership.

On-site testing with a portable analyzer revealed that the powdery substance was a chlorinated compound consistent with a type of bleach cleanser. The hazmat team confirmed its results through contact with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

All areas of campus were re-opened by early afternoon, with no lingering concerns from health officials. The Department of Public Safety is continuing to investigate the incident.