UPDATE: July 10, 2014 12:20 p.m.
LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC/AP) — A portion of the U.S. Capitol building was closed due to an industrial spill Thursday morning.
A hazardous material response team was on site following an incident that began sometime around 2:30 a.m. to 3 a.m., Capitol Police say.
The House Door and South Door were temporarily closed, but the south barricade was open, Capitol Police said. Tours of the Capitol building were temporarily suspended, but tours of the visitor center were not affected.
The Architect of the Capitol released a statement indicating the incident involves possible asbestos exposure.
A potentially toxic substance was released as crews performed ongoing asbestos abatement work, officials say.
Samples of the released substance have been collected to determine whether anyone was exposed to asbestos.
The House began the day’s session at noon instead of 10 a.m. because of “an industrial accident,” according to a statement from House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. Even so, by midmorning a handful of tourists were sitting in the visitors’ gallery, observing an otherwise empty chamber.
The Senate began its session as scheduled at 10 a.m.
Construction of the main, center section of the Capitol began in 1793 and was finished in 1826.
As the country grew and more lawmakers joined Congress, a south wing for the current House chamber and a north wing for the Senate were built. Both were completed in 1868, along with a new, larger dome.
The architect’s office has been repairing decaying plaster throughout the building. It has also started preparations for a project to repair the 8.9 million pound, cast iron dome.
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