Powder deemed harmless after Wall Street Journal is evacuated

Thirteen envelopes containing a mysterious white substance were delivered to the Wall Street Journal’s World Financial Center office Wednesday, leading to an abrupt evacuation of the mailroom and a police investigation. The substance was determined to be harmless that evening.

Three of the envelopes were opened by assistants of the executives who they were addressed to, said Bob Christie, spokesperson for Dow Jones & Company, the Journal’s owner. Two of the letters were opened on the ninth floor and the other was opened on the 11th floor of One World Financial Center. The levels and those above them were evacuated. Christie added that at least one of the envelopes contained a letter and it is unknown whether something was written on it. An assistant reported the incident to building security.

The substance was found to be a harmless “food-based powder,” said Detective John Buthorn, a police spokesperson.

The rest of the office tower remained open throughout the day while the substance was being tested. In the building’s lobby, employees bustled past E.M.S. workers, firefighters and police officers. The opened envelopes remained in the mailroom, as those exposed to the substance were decontaminated, according to news reports.

The New York Times reported an anonymous tip from Journal employees that the envelopes were addressed to Robert Thomson, the managing editor; Paul Gigot, the editorial page editor; and Les Hinton, the chief executive of Dow Jones & Company. All 13 letters were postmarked from Knoxville, Tenn.

— Candida L. Figueroa