The highly lethal nerve agent VX — used in weapons of mass destruction — appears to have been discovered in a mail facility at JFK Airport where two US customs agents were sickened this morning, a law-enforcement source said.
Both victims suffered respiratory distress and were taken for emergency treatment after being overcome while inside the US Postal Service facility on North Boundary Road at 9:40 a.m., the source said.
Initial testing after the incident revealed the presence of “chemical-grade weapons and nerve gas,” and subsequent testing produced a positive reading for VX, the source said.
VX is a synthetic substance that is the most potent of all known nerve agents and can cause death through skin contact or inhalation.
The Port Authority Police Department, NYPD and FBI have Hazmat teams at the scene, and various tests have all produced consistent results, the source said.
An FBI spokesman said the bureau’s Hazardous Response Team was working to verify the results to determine if they were valid or a “false positive.”
“We’re re-screening and re-testing the package and the individuals who became ill,” spokesman J. Peter Donald said.
Preliminary protocols call for the suspicious package to be sent to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware pending further investigation, the source said.
The scene of the incident is a giant facility that processes overseas mail bound for the eastern United States, and a source said the package involved appears to have come from China.
The building and a US Customs facility about a quarter-mile away have both been quarantined, but airport operations so far remain unaffected.