Postal Worker Blames Illness On Leaking Package That The USPS Says Never Existed

A postal worker in Florida says a mysterious leaking package coming from Yemen has caused him to be super sick, but the U.S. Postal Service says that package doesn’t even exist, and never has. The man has been to numerous doctors, and none have been able to diagnose his illness.

The Miami Herald has a story from the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting, which says the man claims to have handled a leaking package on Feb. 4, 2011, and that he now suffers from extreme fatigue, tremors, and liver and neurological problems, symptoms consistent with toxic exposure.

However, the USPS says the man was never exposed to a potentially toxic package. It hasn’t offered a comment on the case but a lawyer did acknowledge that a “harmless spill” had happened on Feb. 2, 2011, but not Feb. 4.

“A review of Postal Service records and multiple inquiries at both the Area and District levels has confirmed — as we previously indicated — that there was no hazardous spill on February 4, 2011 at the Orlando” mail processing center, she wrote.

The man’s coworker says she smelled a noxious odor coming from a mailbag, and the man, who was the shift supervisor monitoring sorting from a platform, came over to investigate and said it was a strong chemical stench he couldn’t identify, coming from a bag wet with a brown substance. He says he remembers the return address as coming from Yemen, and in the bag were tubes and wires sticking out of a broken package.

Since two unsuccessful attempts had been made by al-Qaida months earlier to send bombs through the mail from Yemen, workers had been told to watch out for packages coming from there.

The man says he moved 40 postal employees out of the area and opened the large bay doors to ventilate the space, and moved the bag to a cart and pushed it out to a hazmat shed. He then radioed his manager to alert her of the suspicious spill, and she said the next person on duty would handle it.

He claims afterward that his throat burned and the fumes gave him a headache. The FCIR says the postal service didn’t investigate the package, nor report it to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as is the protocol.

Ill worker fights postal service over toxic mail [Miami Herald]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Sean says:

    If I came across a package that had noxious odors I would tell everyone to get out and then call hazmat, but maybe that is just me.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Wortked in a mail room for a while. We had a HAZMAT bin to use if we got a suspicious package. You, the person who touched it, were supposed to drop it in there and wait for officials to arrive. And by wait I mean stand there with your hands up not touching anything.

      I’d say the guy has a case, in particular because they never reported it to H.S. No investigation means they don’t know what was in it, which means a judge/jury gets to make the assumption it was toxic.

      • George4478 says:

        He only has a case if the package actually existed. Isn’t that the crux of it? The USPS claims the event never happened and the package never existed. Some judge will have to decide who is lying about what.

    • Anathema777 says:

      That’s basically what he did.

      • JennQPublic says:

        “Lill admitted he didn’t follow protocol for handling a spill. Rushing to protect fellow employees, Lill did not follow the Postal Service rules that required him to put on a protective suit before handling the parcel. Because of that, he said, liquid from the package touched his skin. It was brown, syrupy and difficult to wash off.”

        • Anathema777 says:

          Yeah, I read the article. But I was responding to this particular comment in which Sean said he’d have sent everyone out and then called hazmat. The guy sent the workers out and then called his supervisors to alert hazmat.

          • JennQPublic says:

            The part where he touches the suspicious substance is kind of relevant to the point.

            Tell everyone to get out, play with potentially toxic substance, then call hazmat… I would skip one of those steps.

  2. scoutermac says:

    Sounds to me like USPS does not want to pay his medical bills.

    • Jawaka says:

      Or he was scheduled to lose his job or have his hours cut due to post office cuts and figures that he couldn’t lose his job while out on comp.

  3. Blueskylaw says:

    “A review of Postal Service records and multiple inquiries at both the Area and District levels has confirmed — as we previously indicated — that there was no hazardous spill”

    “but a lawyer did acknowledge that a “harmless spill” had happened on Feb. 2, 2011, but not Feb. 4.”

    So it seems there was a spill and now this whole situation revolves around the word “harmless” and who actually decided the spill wasn’t harmless.

    • Blueskylaw says:

      “Was”, not wasn’t.

    • George4478 says:

      “A spill” on a different day does not mean it’s part of a USPS conspiracy to conceal “THE spill the required 40 employees to evacuate the area and the package to be placed in a hazmat shed”.

      It could just mean someone dropped a cup of coffee on Feb 2nd and it was recorded in the log as a ‘harmless spill’.

      • Blueskylaw says:

        Companies don’t record spills of truly harmless things like coffee. This was a spill of something that was important enough to log in, and yet they are not saying what that spill was. They are basically clamming up for a reason.

        • huadpe says:

          If the coffee destroys/damages someone’s letter or other mailpiece then they need to record it, and deal with getting the damaged letter to the appropriate destination, possibly repackaged into a USPS envelope/package.

  4. Power Imbalance says:

    When this doesn’t pan out we’ll see this mailman pulling a “slip and fall” at a local grocery store.

    • crispyduck13 says:

      Oh yeah, clearly he’s just after a quick buck.

      The fuck outta here.

    • shufflemoomin says:

      Yeah, there had been warning of bombs and this guy happens to notice a toxic smelling package with “wires sticking out” and he doesn’t alert anyone? Not only should he not get the pay day he’s trying to sneak in but he should be fired for gross negligence.

  5. mopman64 says:

    I smell a big cover up.

    • Blueskylaw says:

      My team of high priced corporate lawyers told
      me to tell you that that smell is also harmless.

  6. crispyduck13 says:

    So USPS discovers a busted package from Yemen with wires sticking out and leaking a liquid with a chemical smell and no investigation is done? In fact they have no record of handling it or where it was sent? Did they throw it out, dump it in a river, what??

    This is so unbelievably ridiculous they need to make a movie out of it. I feel so bad for that man.

    • JennQPublic says:

      You know, when something’s unbelievably ridiculous, sometimes I just don’t believe it. Gossip is the only thing that travels faster than the speed of light, and there’s just no way postal workers wouldn’t gossip about this. The fact that no one is backing up his story is highly suspicious.

      • Anathema777 says:

        Did you read the linked article? There are people backing him up and there are even some records of the incident turning up.

      • crispyduck13 says:

        Yeah except there are several other workers backing up his story.

    • A Feral Ginger says:

      Starring Bruce Willis as an unlikely hero, who risks his own life to single-handedly stop a terrorist attack that could have killed millions.

  7. absherlock says:

    I get the feeling that this goes above the USPS trying to cover its own behind. The guy admits that he didn’t follow pretty simple protocol (he didn’t put on a protective suit before moving the package and allowed the liquid to touch his skin), so most of the responsibility for his condition is on him.

    That being said, whoever is covering this up (Homeland Security?) really should contact his doctors or just take over his treatment. He shouldn’t suffer like this for being a (well-meaning) dumbass.

  8. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    Did the enemy have a mole in the USPS that made this package disappear before it could be followed up?

  9. Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

    And that was how the zombie apocalypse began…

  10. Captain Obvious says:

    The non-existent package has been sent to Area 51 for testing on the space aliens we keep there.

  11. CrackedLCD says:

    Let this be a lesson to all of us: never handle someone else’s leaky package.

  12. Professor59 says:

    This is the kind of rampant fake claims at USPS that are typically used as retirement plans. No oversight, no investigation, no recourse, no downside.
    And that’s straight from “Postal Points”, the newsletter of the Postmaster General.

    • Actionable Mango says:

      So the guy is faking neurological disorders, organ failure, a bleeding ulcer, and a bleeding esophagus?

  13. randomneko says:

    UPS seems to be having trouble paying lots of bills lately.