September 18. 2017 6:12PM

Mysterious powdery purple substance discovered on Nashua elementary school property

By KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent


Emergency crews are trying to identify a powdery substance in a large circle outside of a Nashua school on Monday. (COURTESY)

NASHUA — Emergency officials are trying to determine how an unknown substance made its way onto school property, prompting a hazmat team to investigate for hours on Monday, still with no explanation.

A large, blackish purple substance in a circle about 10 to 15 feet wide was discovered Monday morning by educators outside of Broad Street Elementary School. School administrators cordoned off the area as a precaution.

The city’s hazmat team tested thousands of substances trying to find a match.

“They exhausted all of their tools they had and weren’t able to come up with the exact substance,” said Justin Kates, director of the city’s Emergency Management Office. “They were able to determine at this time that there is really no hazard. It is not really an active or volatile substance.”

The state’s mobile hazmat lab could not identify the substance during initial testing, either, Kates said.

“It is very strange because it is not in any of our chemical test kit libraries,” he said. “The situation is definitely no threat to the public and no threat to the kids.”

Kates acknowledged that it is highly unusual that officials have not been able to identify the substance.

School security footage was viewed and no one was seen visiting the area or vandalizing the grass, he said. A naturally occurring incident also initially has been ruled out.

“It is crazy at this point that we haven’t found something,” he said about 5 p.m. Monday, at least seven hours after the circle was discovered on the front lawn of the school property, near the flagpole.

The area remained cordoned with yellow caution tape Monday evening and lab work was continuing. Kates said he was optimistic the substance would be identified Monday night.

Parents received a message from school officials reassuring them their children were safe. The message stated that police and fire officials are investigating a “powdery substance found in the grass.”

According to Kates, children were still able to play outside since the playground is on the opposite side of the building.

khoughton@newstote.com