By Joshua Maloni
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service has finished its investigation into the pepper spray spill that sent seven Lewiston Post Office employees to Mount St. Mary's Hospital on Wednesday.
"It was determined that the irritant was dog-repellent. It was one of the carrier's, inside the work area. It was not from a package or the mail but that was not known until the matter was investigated," said Karen Mazurkiewicz, corporate communications for USPS - Central Pennsylvania and Western New York districts. "It was determined that jostling in the area must have caused the repellent canister to tip over in a drawer; liquid started to slowly leak through the drawer onto the floor. Employees in the work unit did not know the cause, only that they were having a physical reaction.
"Since there was packages all around, and the source of the irritant was not known, management took every precaution to protect the safety of the employees, customers and mail."
Not long after a 7:52 a.m. call for help was placed from the post office, agencies including the Lewiston Police Department, Lewiston No. 1 Volunteer Fire Co., and the Niagara County hazardous materials team responded to the scene, cordoned off the corner of South Eighth and Cayuga streets, and conducted a thorough investigation. By 2 p.m., the non-toxic aerosol irritant was identified and, soon after, the post office employees were released and the streets were reopened.