My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

Courier-Journal: Jello powder disrupts Census work in Jeffersonville

H/t to Harold J. Adams of the Louisville, Kentucky Courier-Journal for the following report about one of the Census Bureau’s three data capture centers:

A red powder that prompted authorities to evacuate a Census Bureau warehouse in Jeffersonville on Tuesday morning turned out to be Jell-O.

That’s according to David Hackbarth, director of the bureau’s National Processing Center on East 10th Street.

Hackbarth said similar incidents have happened multiple times since the census began.

About 200 employees were forced to leave the warehouse about 8 a.m. after the bureau’s onsite response team could not identify the powder found along with a mailed-in census questionnaire in an envelope opened by a worker an hour earlier. The all-clear was given shortly before 1 p.m.

A 20,000-square-foot work bay was on lock-down with no one allowed in or out during the hour that census officials investigated the substance. Then it was determined to evacuate the 200 workers who had been isolated in the bay and call 911 to get help from the Jeffersonville Fire Department and the National Guard’s hazardous materials team in Louisville, Hackbarth said.

The employees were kept out of the building during the National Guard investigation.

“This makes our nineteenth incident since we started the census” in March, Hackbarth said.

In sixteen of the previous incidents, Census Bureau security was able to determine the substances were harmless without calling in outside help. Two other incidents did require National Guard help, but were also found to be harmless, Hackbarth said.

The evacuation of the warehouse temporarily suspended the processing of incoming census forms, he said, but other operations proceeded normally.

“Fortunately, we are ahead of our processing curve,” he said.

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One Response to “Courier-Journal: Jello powder disrupts Census work in Jeffersonville”

  1. Nylonsandcigarettes Says:

    Really, now. Please don’t do this. We have some issues at Census, yes… but Census isn’t about putting you in jail (Census stood up to the Feds in WW2 about the Japanese thing, if you’ll look at archives- until the gov’t overpowered it); we don’t take your house like the IRS; we just count it.

    People were Martians before; now they’re Vulcans. We have special interests out in mass to usurp any aid they can via the census. We invite lots of criticism fairly, but we don’t deserve to have our good people tormented by this kind of thing. If it’s wrong for cops to bully one field worker, who’s sending us Jell-o and laughing at it?

    It makes a big mess- (a chocolate mess?)- to send unpacked confections through the system. Instead, how about you just invite your enumerator in for Jell-o instead? I like the fruity mixed up one, myself. They can tell you how rough it is to work here- we are out of the disciplinary forms- whoever heard of a job that fires half the people it hires in a couple weeks?- and we could use some quality listening. YOU, then, can tell us about your taxes- you know, the real bad guys. Once they get onto you, they bankrupt you. We just count you, then WE get money for YOU!

    Really, we have to kiss up to everyone nicey-nicey like to say “Please send this in so we can give you a better street…. PLEASE!”-
    And the rest of life- IRS, State, DMVs- are really thugs. They need Kool Aid with JJ, but we could use some slack. Jell-o sounds fine to me, maybe some cookies, we’ll call them Z5896, in Census fashion. Yes, a dish of Z9857 Jell-o and package of Z5896 cookies. The folks at NPC can have some too- I’ll take less than a package, and maybe a spoonful. I’ve had enough Z6768 rolls- they’re awfully sticky…

    We are the punching bag for being nice, in a government you often hate.

    We hire bunches of people. It’s really not bad work, but the idiot factor gets us enough inside. Please be nice to us.