UVU white powder tests negative for harmful substances

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OREM -- The discovery of a suspicious white powder prompted the evacuation of hundreds at Utah Valley University Thursday morning. Investigators now say the powder tested negative for biological toxins and radioactivity.

Hazmat crews on scene sent a sample of the substance to an independent lab to be tested for biological toxins -- such as Anthrax -- and for radioactivity and volatility. All tests came back negative and were confirmed by a National Guard team.

The powder was found shortly before 11 a.m. on a tabletop in the hallway of the Woodbury Business Building. Emergency responders evacuated around 200 people as hazmat crews suited up and headed inside.

Despite a feeling of urgency, people evacuated said they weren't scared.

"I felt they'd get us out of the building and we'd be fine, and that they were doing what they needed to do to make it safe," said evacuee Ann Mecham.

Farid Islam, who teaches in Woodbury building, said the worst part about the evacuation was having no access to his office. "I have a lot of work. If I can't go in there, I'll have to come back late: 8:00, 9:00, 10:00," he said.

Classes in the building were canceled Thursday. Some students who've signed up for UVU's text notification system are finding that out on their cell phones; others by word of mouth and the media.

As for whoever left the powder, officials aren't saying who that might have been or if they have any suspects.

The discovery hasn't affected anything else on campus. High schools have been holding their graduations at the McKay Events Center; they're all scheduled to go ahead as planned.

Classes are scheduled to resume as normal on Friday.

E-mail: sdallof@ksl.com

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