Patients diverted after hazmat crew called to Providence St. Peter

Authorities are investigating after an 18-year-old man triggered a hazardous materials response at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia on Wednesday evening, prompting the hospital to divert patients from the emergency room.

The man told officials he bought an ingredient online to make the highly toxic protein ricin and was working with it at home when he began to feel sick, according to Sgt. Cameron Simper with the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office.

Emergency personnel were called to his home near Lacey about 8:30 p.m. The man apparently didn’t mention the ricin then, Simper said.

He was later taken to Providence St. Peter Hospital by his grandmother and he brought the substance with him, according to Simper.

Shortly after 9:30 p.m. when the substance was discovered, hospital officials reported a possible hazmat situation, according to Thurston County dispatchers. A hazmat team from Joint Base Lewis-McChord responded, according to Simper.

Some people coming to the emergency room were sent elsewhere as a result, although serious trauma patients were still accepted, according to hospital spokesman Chris Thomas. Other areas of the hospital remained open, and operations were back to normal by about 1:30 a.m., according to Thomas.

The FBI has taken over the investigation.

On Thursday, Providence and Thurston County health officials said the substance tested a preliminary positive for containing ricin but that there is no ongoing public health risk.