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Suspicious powder on NJ Transit train was Ultra Slim-Fast

(The following story by Erin Eileen O'Neill appeared on The Star-Ledger website on November 12, 2009.)

RAHWAY, N.J. ó Police said a suspicious powder found on an NJ Transit train that sparked a Haz-Mat investigation and snarled service through here this morning turned out to be the diet supplement, Ultra Slim-Fast.

About 7:41 a.m., the train from New York to Long Branch was stopped in Rahway after the powdery substance was discovered, according to NJ Transit spokesman Dan Stessel. He said the diet supplement was on the floor of the sixth car of the train.

Police locked down the station and took precautions as if responding to a hazardous chemical material. They quickly determined, however, that the powder posed no harm, Stessel said, and no one complained of any health problems.

About 200 passengers were transferred to the next train, Stessel said, but some straphangers were left stranded as police cleaned up the scene.

Around 10:30 a.m., a darkened commuter train remained parked on the Trenton/Bayhead-bound side of the station.
Yellow crime scene tape cordoned off the entrance to one stairwell.

Outside a mobile command unit, men undressed from hazmat suits, and officers broke down tarps that had been set up.

Ebony Santos, 20, was commuting from New Brunswick to Perth Amboy and was supposed to transfer at Rahway. She was supposed to catch the 9:22 train to Long Branch, and an hour later it hadn't arrived yet.

"As soon as I came off, I saw that the train was stopped," Santos said. "People were talking on the train and someone said that someone had left powder inside the train,"

New York City police have responded this week to six reports of powder in envelopes mailed to foreign missions to the United Nations.

Friday, November 13, 2009

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