Palo Alto Transit Center reopened after hazmat investigation

Bay City News
Thursday, April 28, 2016

PALO ALTO, Calif. -- A substance found on a bus that prompted the Palo Alto Transit Center to close this morning turned out to be sheetrock powder, a Santa Clara County sheriff's captain said.

Deputies responded shortly after 7:30 a.m. to a report of a substance found on a Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority bus at the center, located off of University Avenue and El Camino Real, sheriff's Capt. David Lera said.

A bus operator on Route 22 that started at Eastridge Transit Center in San Jose reached the end of the line in Palo Alto and saw a white powder about the size of a finger while sweeping through the vehicle, Lera said.

Fire personnel were also notified of the hazardous materials incident and responded to the scene, where they tested the substance but were unable to determine what it was, Lera said. Santa Clara County fire crews were also called and utilized more "sophisticated" equipment, Lera said.

Shortly before 11:30 a.m., they determined the substance was sheetrock powder that possibly came from a worker's pants, according to Lera. The bus loop at the transit center was evacuated but Caltrain continued normal operations, according to Lera.

Other bus services stop at the center including SamTrans, the Dumbarton Express and Stanford University's public shuttle, Lera said. No injuries were reported. There was no indication of any criminal intent associated with the incident, Lera said. He estimated the transit center would be cleared by noon.