Store’s hazmat scare draws Customs, Homeland Security

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A scare at a Wilmington business this morning. Jugs of liquid found in a shipping container led to an evacuation, while police, US Customs and even Homeland Security got involved.

It started off as a normal morning at New River Pottery on Market Street. A new shipment of rattan furniture came in, so employee Lenwood Mills began unloading it.

“I opened it up, and soon as we looked down to the left there was a container of three bottles that were strapped together,” Mills said. “The funny thing about it is there was a small bottle strapped on top turned upside down.”

The store called police, and it didn’t take long before firefighters, EMS and a hazmat team arrived. They evacuated the store.

“They quarantined me and the other guy mainly because we had touched the substance with our bare hands,” Mills said.

This shipping container came through the State Port of Wilmington, which raised a red flag with customs and the department of homeland security.

“We started looking at the manifest bill of lading. This particular container was not listed on the bill of lading on the manifest, and we became concerned, and obviously US Customs became concerned as well,” Wilmington Fire Department Battalion Chief Jimmy Casteen said.

The hazmat team was able to remove a sample of the liquid from the jugs, which they tested on site to determine what exactly was in them. Turns out, it’s not a threat. The liquid appears to be a type of finishing product used on wicker furniture. The fire department says it likely was locked up accidentally in the shipping container in Indonesia and shipped overseas.

Employees and customers were allowed back in the building around 12:30 p.m.

Casteen says US customs will still likely investigate.

Categories: New Hanover

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