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White powder in Salem shipping container posed no serious risks

SALEM — A white powder found in a shipping container delivered to a local flooring company Thursday was a leftover substance known as adipic acid that posed no serious health risk, fire officials said.

Fire crews were called to Nora Systems Inc. at 9 Northeastern Blvd. just after 8:30 a.m. to investigate after workers discovered the powder when they opened the container.
Nora Systems sells industrial rubber flooring and was expecting an overseas shipment of flooring to arrive from its home base in Germany, said Salem Fire Capt. Stephane Cattin.
“They opened the container and there was a white powder toward the rear of the container. There was no more than a cup. It was sprinkled around,” Cattin said.
The container was sealed before it was shipped and had not been tampered with, Cattin said.
Cattin said fire crews responded and could not immediately identify the substance.
A team from the Southeastern New Hampshire Hazardous Materials Mutual Aid was then called in to assist at the scene while those in the area of the container were evacuated as a precaution.
The hazmat team has monitoring equipment that can sample and identify substances in the field.
Cattin said the substance was determined to be adipic acid in a white powder form.
After contacting the company in Germany, officials learned that the container had been used previously to transport the substance and that a small amount was left over, Cattin said.
“It’s not an incredibly dangerous substance, but it’s labeled as an environmental toxin and has to be disposed of properly,” he said.
Cattin said there was no criminal intent behind the incident.
“There’s no suspicion of any malicious activity,” he said.
Workers at Nora Systems responded appropriately by calling the fire department to investigate, Cattin said.
Crews cleared the scene around 11:30 a.m.

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