All clear given after hazmat response to bishop’s office
Lehigh County Special Operations Team, Cetronia volunteer firefighters, Cetronia Ambulance Corps personnel, Allentown City paramedics and South Whitehall police responded to a possible hazard materials incident around 11 a.m. March 26 at the office of the bishop for the Allentown Catholic Diocese.
The office, located inside the American Bank building, 4029 W. Tilghman St., South Whitehall, was evacuated, as was the bank.
The secretary to Bishop Alfred A. Schlert apparently opened a piece of international mail and immediately reported pain in her throat, wheezing and eye redness.
Her fellow employees placed the letter in a paper towel, then put it in a plastic bag while other employees called 911.
After a field evaluation of the envelope, no toxic substances were found.
All responding emergency units were available around 12:30 p.m.
The Parkland Press contacted Diocese Director of Communications Matt Kerr for comment on the incident.
Kerr responded with the following statement:
“Chancery personnel were evacuated briefly this morning while emergency personnel checked out a piece of mail that, when opened, caused eye irritation for one administrative employee.
“Emergency responders cleared the scene in about 90 minutes after declaring there was no hazard.
“Bishop Schlert thanked all the emergency personnel for their fast response and care.”