Positive test for VX Nerve Gas agent in Suspicious package at JFK Int Airport
Two customs agents sickened after suspicious package at JFK International Airport tests positive for ‘VX nerve gas’
Mail sorting facility and Customs office were quarantined after discovery of suspicious package
Initial tests were positive for VX chemical nerve gas – a deadly nerve agent
Firefighters say test was likely false positive and substance is not actually chemical weapon
Operations at JFK airport were not disrupted
By MICHAEL ZENNIE
PUBLISHED: 18:27, 11 August 2013 | UPDATED: 20:43, 11 August 2013
A Postal Service mail sorting facility at New York’s JFK International Airport has been quarantined today after a suspicious package tested positive for VX nerve gas.
Two Customs agents were sicked Sunday morning after inhaling the strange odor coming from the package, which unconfirmed reports indicate was shipped to the United States from China.
Authorities say it is unlikely that the substance in the package is actually the deadly chemical weapon, but they are taking no chances.
The New York Post reports that the Postal Service facility – which is responsible for sorting international mail bound for the eastern U.S. – and a Customs office a quarter mile away were both quarantined.
After the Customs and Border Control agents were overcome, an initial test revealed that the package contained ‘chemical-grade weapons and nerve gas.’
A second test said the chemical was VX nerve gas, a deadly synthetic chemical weapon that can be absorbed through the lungs or the skin.
Only two countries – Russia and the United States – are known to possess the nerve agent, though it has been reported that Syria has manufactured it, as well.
WABC-TV reports that authorities are saying the gas probably isn’t actually a chemical weapon. Rather, it could be a gas from a chemical that should not have been shipped by mail.
Firefighters say the chemical could be as simple as a solvent or a degreaser.
Tests for chemical weapons can often return false-positive results.
Unconfirmed police scanner traffic indicated that the package originated from China.
The FBI is on scene, in addition to fire department HazMat units to continue testing of the substance and the air around it.
WABC reported that the inspectors were treated at the scene, but then recovered and declined transport to the hospital.
Flights into and out of JFK International Airport – one of the world’s business international hubs – have not been disrupted.