Experts weigh in on Hendry hazmat hazard

Reporter: Olivia Jean
Published: Updated:

The Hendry County Sheriff’s Office said the problem area where the mysterious substance is is all contained, and the scene is all clear.

The scene was unknown to the town of LaBelle but not to former FBI Agent Bret Hood.

“What they’re doing by keeping the public a far distance away from the scene is a good practice,” Hood said.

He would know as he has worked in similar situations with the FBI and had to make careful choices at a meth lab scene.

“We made a choice to stay away from the scene for two to three days; we kept security, but we stayed away at a safe distance because of all the noxious chemicals,” Hood said.

Hendry deputies are making similar choices now, which has prolonged us finding out what exactly this dangerous substance is.

“Even these hazmat teams have to be careful about going in,” Public Information Officer of the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office, Captain Susan Harrelle, said.

In total, 21 have gotten ill from the unknown substance, some while even wearing hazmat suits.

WINK News Reporter Olivia Jean spoke with a chemistry expert to find out just what this substance could be. Kevin Davies, a FGCU Professor of Chemistry, said while he couldn’t say without test results, he talked about the dangers of fentanyl, meth, or anthrax becoming airborne.

“I’m suspecting that it’s going to be in a pretty well-known hazard category. The biggest danger is right there, where the chemicals are spread out with air. And with all the atmospheric mixing, it’s going to really start falling down in concentration really quickly to the point where it’s probably not going to do much to people with the sort of chemical classes that we’re talking about here,” Davies said.

Hendry deputies say the scene is contained.

“We do not believe that the public is in any danger because even outside that perimeter, it’s not affecting anyone. It’s only once you’re inside in a specific area,” Harrelle said.

“Whether it be a meth lab, whether it be fentanyl, whether it be some other chemical, you really have to be careful, because if you inhale these things, it can damage your internal organs just by getting too much of that chemical in your nose in your mouth. And so caution is absolutely essential right now. And I think they’re doing a good job of keeping people away,” Hood said.

Hendry deputies say several stolen items, including vehicles, were found on the scene.

This is still an ongoing investigation.

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