© 2024 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Contaminated Cash Sends Kansas City Federal Reserve Worker To Hospital

Dan Verbeck

The physical handling of millions of dollars in old cash had resumed at mid-afternoon Thursday at Kansas City’s Federal Reserve Bank.

Some airborne irritant, initially thought to have been hazardous, sent one worker to a hospital and forced a slowdown of the operation.

An armored truck had delivered what looked to be a regular shipment of cash destined for shredding. It went, as do multiple daily truckloads, to a loading dock at the Reserve when one worker started having trouble breathing.  

What appeared to be a mold was inside a package of bills, according to Kansas City Fire Battalion Chief James Garrett--  “as that package was opened,  there was a substance that was recognized. It was visibly recognized.  The person who was exposed to that package, whatever they were breathing in, became short of breath.”

Credit Dan Verbeck / KCUR
Kansas City Fire Battalion Chief James Garrett outside Federal Reserve Bank.

The worker was decontaminated and sent to a hospital for treatment of what medics considered a possible life threatening condition. 

Three other nearby workers were washed down as a precaution.

Speaking for the Federal Reserve Bank, Bill Medley later said the troublesome contaminant was  not considered hazardous.

Work resumed,  destroying an estimated daily load of old bills worth at least $3.7 million.

KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and award-winning podcasts.
Your donation helps keep nonprofit journalism free and available for everyone.