A suspicious white, powdery substance was found near the loading dock at the Mills-Peninsula Hospital in Burlingame on Thursday, bringing a team of the county’s hazardous material authorities and a number of firefighters to the scene before the material was found to be harmless hours later.
An employee found the material at the hospital at 7:35 a.m. and fire officials immediately cordoned off the area while hospital officials sent a memo to staff members and patients, explaining that they were not in harms way.
When the Burlingame Fire Department couldn’t figure out what it was, they called the county’s hazardous materials team, said Burlingame’s Battalion Chief Jack Lindecker.
That team ultimately decided it was inert, and called a private hauler to take the material away, he said.
He said lab tests will determine exactly what the material was, but one possibility was silica powder. Silica is found in quartz, sand and glass and is an abundant material on the planet.
It is sometimes used in packing materials, and can be found in small packets in shoe boxes as a drying agent.
It took about two and a half hours for the material to be identified as inert and removed, according to Lindecker.