A Facebook mailing facility in Menlo Park, California, has been evacuated Monday after sarin — a compound used as a chemical weapon — was detected during a routine mail check, a Menlo Park Fire Department official confirmed to TheWrap.
So far, no employees are showing signs they’re suffering from the chemical’s exposure, the fire official said — pushing back on initial reports that two employees had been exposed. A machine that checks all mail received by the tech giant detected traces of sarin around 11 a.m., and the Menlo Park FD was alerted soon after.
Sarin, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, is “a human-made chemical warfare agent classified as a nerve agent. Nerve agents are the most toxic and rapidly acting of the known chemical warfare agents.”
It’s unclear how many employees were evacuated.
“At 11:00 a.m. [PDT] this morning, a package delivered to one of our mail rooms was deemed suspicious. We evacuated four buildings and are conducting a thorough investigation in coordination with local authorities. Authorities have not yet identified the substance found,” Facebook spokesperson Anthony Harrison told TheWrap. “As of now, three of the evacuated buildings have been cleared for repopulation. The safety of our employees is our top priority and we will share additional information when it is available.”
The potentially toxic package has been “quarantined,” according to a fire department official, and is being tested by a hazardous materials team.
“Sometimes machines make mistakes,” Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman told the Los Angeles Times. “This is a standard package-handling call we’re dealing with.”
The mailing facility is at 1195 Hamilton Court — about half a mile away from Facebook’s corporate headquarters in Menlo Park.
The FBI has been contacted, according to the Times, and will carry out an investigation if sarin is confirmed to be in the package.
The news was first reported by NBC Bay Area.