Tests find no anthrax in samples
By JAMIE JONES
© St. Petersburg Times,
BROOKSVILLE -- The mysterious white substance believed to have fallen from a small airplane flying over Hernando Oil Co. last week tested negative for anthrax, a Health Department official said Monday.
Al Gray, environmental health director for the Hernando County Health Department, said the state Department of Agriculture has received samples of the material and will determine whether it is a pesticide.
Dale Dubberly, a bureau chief for the Department of Agriculture, said the tests will take several weeks to complete.
Dubberly said he also is investigating whether someone had a license to spray pesticide in the area.
To obtain a license, a person has to fill out an application, show his or her Federal Aviation Administration license and give details of a flight plan and purpose, he said.
The Hernando Sheriff's Office has been investigating the incident since a Hernando Oil employee said she was enveloped in a mist while standing outside the company on Cortez Boulevard, on the south side of Brooksville. She reported seeing a powder-blue plane flying overhead toward the Hernando County Airport.
A Brooksville firefighter suited up in protective gear and collected samples of the substance, which were sealed in protective bags and taken to a Tampa laboratory. The employee's clothing was taken and sealed, as was the clothing of another man standing outside.
Lt. Joe Paez said the Sheriff's Office is working with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the FAA to review flight and radar records to determine where the plane took off and where it landed.
Several people reported seeing the plane in the area, but no one else said they were sprayed with a mysterious substance on Oct. 29, Paez said.
-- Staff writer Jamie Jones covers law enforcement and courts in Hernando County and can be reached at 754-6114. Send e-mail to email@example.com.
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