Contraband removed from storage unit being tested at state lab

Contraband removed from storage unit being tested at state lab
AAAA Storage along East Washington Street in Petersburg. (Source: NBC12)
AAAA Storage along East Washington Street in Petersburg. (Source: NBC12)

PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) - A hazmat situation at a storage facility in Petersburg prompted response from numerous agencies and shut down a major roadway in the city Wednesday afternoon.

According to Petersburg Police, shortly after 2 p.m. officers conducted a search of a storage unit at the AAAA Self Storage facility in the 1600 block of East Washington Street.

Police determined that the unit contained "a possible chemical contraband" and the Crater Regional Hazardous Materials Unit was activated.

This unit has members from Virginia State Police, Colonial Heights, Hopewell, Fort Lee, Prince George and Petersburg that operate in various capacities including fire, medical and specialties teams that respond to situations of a chemical or biomedical nature that are beyond what a single jurisdiction can appropriately handle alone.

After several hours, the situation was cleared and deemed safely around 7 p.m. Wednesday evening.

A section of East Washington Street was closed as officials worked the scene, with potential traffic issues, including school buses, general traffic, and impact from trains from the nearby rail yard were handled.

"It was like, wow what is going on," said Melvin Carter, who was on the job at a Petersburg restaurant when he noticed a swarm of police right outside. "We were kind of wondering what was going on because it was affecting our business right after the lunch rush."

Police had the westbound lanes of East Washington Street closed off outside the storage facility after getting reports of a strong odor just after 2:00 p.m. A couple of businesses closed, and one man said his felt a loss.

"We wasted a lot of food lost and lost a lot of money too due to the detours," said Carter.

"Whenever the hazmat team did go into the affected unit, they did recover contraband, and it has now been taken part of to the state lab and the other part to our property and evidence room," said Petersburg police public information officer, Esther Hyatt.

Hyatt hasn't said what the recovered materials are. But methamphetamine can be manufactured in two liter bottles.

Workers at the storage facility waited across the street with media. They didn't want to go on camera but said they were informed that if meth was found, they would have to be decontaminated.

"The only unit that is being quarantined is the one we went into today," said Hyatt.

The contraband removed from one of the units is now being tested to determine exactly what is and if any arrests will be made.

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