Senate Evacuated for Nerve Gas Scare
The Senate was evacuated when a nerve gas alarm sounded last night. It turned out to be a false alarm.
A U.S. Senate office building was evacuated Wednesday evening after a sensor detected the presence of a possible nerve agent, but it was later determined to be a false alarm, sources said.
Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer said the building was “all clear” as footage from the scene showed the evacuees leaving the area where they had been gathered after the scare. Eight senators and more than 200 staffers were evacuated after alarms sounded at 7 p.m. in the attic of the Russell Senate Office Building, just north of the Capitol, Senate aides said.
Capitol Police spokeswoman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider said she couldn’t say whether it was powder, gas or liquid that was detected. It was more like “something in the air” in the building’s attic, which takes up an entire floor of the 658,000-square-foot building, she said. She added that a cleaning solvent could have falsely set off the sensor in the attic, which is used primarily as storage space.
During Desert Storm, our M-8 nerve agent detectors went off repeatedly, all for false alarms. Unfortunately, to be sensitive enough to sound before the agent is absorbed, they almost have to be sensitive enough to give false alarms.