By KATE COIL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
A hazardous material team was dispatched to the federal prison in McDowell County Wednesday to assist with a suspicious package investigation.
Glenn Friss, a public information officer with the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) McDowell, said the package was flagged as containing something suspicious by employees of the prison’s mailroom.
“About 2:50 p.m. employees were checking the incoming mail when they discovered something suspicious during one of their routine screenings,” Friss said.
Friss was unable to identify what about the package was suspicious or the contents of the package due to the ongoing investigation. However, Friss said the package was contained and the facility is secured.
“Everything in the facility is secure,” he said. “Nothing was opened and the package has been contained until we can determine what is inside. There is no danger at all to the public, inmates or staff. There was no evacuation of the facility.”
Friss said the prison staff contacted McDowell County 911, which in turn dispatched the Princeton and Beckley fire departments’ hazmat teams to the scene. Friss said the hazmat teams arrived on the scene at approximately 4:30 p.m. to begin their investigation.
The team cleared the scene at 6:45 p.m. after declaring it secure, Friss said. The package contained “a nonhazardous material,” but he could not described it because the FBI investigation is underway.
The FBI has also been contacted regarding the package, as the prison is a federal institution, Friss said.
“There will be an investigation conducted regardless of what the substance turns out to be,” he said. “We followed our contingency plans. Safety is our first priority.”
FCI McDowell is a medium-security facility housing male offenders with an adjacent satellite prison camp housing minimum-security male offenders. The facility was open in 2010 and houses approximately 1,650 inmates.