Suspicious Substance Shuts Down Branch

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Redstone FCU and local police are still investigating how a "fine, white powdery substance" came to be in one of the CU's drive-up canisters at the branch here, forcing the credit union to shut down the branch until the nature of the "unknown substance" could be determined.

The branch was closed toward the end of the day on March 6 when the unknown substance was discovered by an employee. The substance was sent off to a lab in Nashville for analysis., and the branch was reopened last Thursday afternoon after lab results determined the substance wasn't toxic.

"We still don't know what it was, but we know that it is not harmful," said Ken Jost, AVP-marketing for the Huntsville, Ala.-based credit union. "It tested negative for anthrax, ricin or any other dangerous toxin."

But until the lab results came back, the $1.6-billion CU was taking no chances, according to Joyce Dye, vp-communications. "All of our employees were decontaminated and sent to the emergency room, and all employees were given a clean bill of health," she told The Credit Union Journal.

"We're pleased that we did not have to go through a full decontamination procedure to reopen the branch," Jost added. "Our employees are relieved they were not exposed to anything dangerous."

Even so, the Fayetteville Police haven't closed the case. "Police are interviewing people now based on our list of transactions during the time frame that the substance was discovered," Jost explained, noting that now that the credit union can safely reopen the branch, it will review the surveillance tapes to see if they can shed any light on how the substance came to be at the credit union. While the branch was closed, the CU waived ATM fees from other financial institutions for its Fayetteville area members.

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