- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 11, 2001

The U.S. Postal Service moved its entire mail-handling operation out of the Brentwood Road mail center yesterday to an aging postal building on V Street Northeast, after officials learned Brentwood still was badly contaminated with anthrax spores.
A postal spokesman said it may take months to root out all traces of the bacteria that killed two Brentwood mail handlers on Oct. 22, made 20 others ill and shut down several congressional office buildings, which got their mail from the tainted building.
The decision to move was a hurried one and not widely discussed with city officials or within the Postal Service itself.
On Wednesday, the Postal Service called Rockville-based Blake & Sons Moving & Storage Inc. to move all of the heavy equipment from Brentwood to a USPS warehouse at 3070 V Street NE, yesterday.
"We got the order on Wednesday at the last minute," said Tom Shioutakon, the owner of Blake & Sons. He still is trying to figure out how his small company, with 40 employees and 10 trucks, got the contract.
"They have us all day today, and we will move lighter loads, boxes, some tent setups and other things on Monday," Mr. Shioutakon said yesterday. After tomorrow, the moving company will be on call the rest of the week, in case the Postal Service needs to bring in more equipment from other locations.
Mr. Shioutakon said the Postal Service assured him the equipment his crew would be moving was tested for anthrax spores by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and deemed safe. The cargo was sitting outside for the movers when they arrived yesterday afternoon.
"We wouldn't touch it otherwise," Mr. Shioutakon said. Blake & Sons has a verbal agreement that its workers will obtain written permission to get antibiotic treatments as a precaution.
Postal employees refused to answer direct questions about the move, and a reporter from The Washington Times was turned away from the Brentwood facility and from the V Street warehouse.
The Postal Service had hoped to open a mail-sorting center to handle Brentwood's mail at a former Hechinger's store in Marlow Heights in Prince George's County. Workers were sent to the property Wednesday to begin renovations.
On Thursday, Prince George's County Executive Wayne Curry ordered the work to halt, saying the county wanted nothing to do with a mail center that would handle mail intended for Brentwood. Mr. Curry said he opposed the facility because he believes it was meant as a decontamination center for mail addressed to Congress.
Postal Service spokeswoman Debbie Yackley said Mr. Curry was wrong, but the Postal Service would look for another site.
Postal Service spokesman Gerold Krienkamp said the move to V Street was not a snap decision. One V Street supervisor was taken by surprise, however. He said he didn't know anything about a move then a half-hour later, a convoy of trucks came rumbling in, loaded with Brentwood equipment.
"We had planned to do this, but it was just a matter of finding a location that would meet our needs," Mr. Krienkamp said.
V Street postal workers seemed confused when six moving trucks pulled up to the loading docks. Earlier, they had been milling around because electrical problems in the 47-year-old building had knocked out the lights.

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