- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 15, 2001

The U.S. Postal Service has finished moving its entire mail-handling operation from the anthrax-contaminated Brentwood Road mail center to a previously used "overflow" building, postal officials said yesterday.
The Postal Service last week began moving mail-sorting equipment from tents outside the Brentwood Road NE facility to a rented overflow warehouse at 3070 V St. NE, postal officials said.
"The carrier operations for zones that worked out of Brentwood have been moved to the new space," Postal Service spokesman Jerry Kreienkamp said. "These operations had been outside Brentwood, handling mail coming into the District that would have gone to Brentwood."
The Postal Service had hoped to move the operation to a former Hechinger's store in Marlow Heights in Prince George's County last week, but it abandoned the plan after getting opposition from County Executive Wayne K. Curry.
Mr. Kreienkamp said the Postal Service used the V Street building for overflow in the past and made the move because now "it's getting colder outside, and we want workers to be inside."
Mail will be sorted at the V Street building indefinitely; Mr. Kreienkamp said it is still not clear whether or when the Brentwood mail center will reopen.
The Brentwood facility sorted mail including congressional mail for more than 35 local post offices in the District. It was closed down Oct. 12 when an anthrax-laced letter addressed to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, was processed there.
The letter passed through just one mail-sorting machine, but tiny bits of the bacteria puffed into the air, contaminating seven others.
Officials are still trying to figure out how to rid the building of the anthrax spores that killed two mail handlers Oct. 22 and made 20 others ill, Mr. Kreienkamp said.
The Postal Service is considering using chlorine-dioxide to decontaminate the building, a heavily debated solution.
"It's one of the options we're testing," Mr. Kreienkamp said. "We have to test it on the machinery inside Brentwood. Some of the machines might have rubber pulleys or computer gears attached to them that could be damaged."
Officials last week scrapped a plan to pump the chlorine dioxide throughout the Senate Hart Office Building, closed since the Daschle letter was opened there Oct. 14. Scientists feared the chemicals might damage computers and artwork without killing all the anthrax spores.
The Environmental Protection Agency since has decided to use the chemicals in the Hart building, but only where the highest concentrations of anthrax have been found in Mr. Daschle's office and that of Sen. Russell D. Feingold, Wisconsin Democrat.
U.S. Capitol Police Lt. Dan Nichols yesterday said artwork was being taken out of those offices and stored in "special containers" in a parking lot near the Hart building.
Meanwhile, postal facilities nationwide continue to be tested for anthrax.
"We're conducting environmental tests at more than 270 postal facilities around the country," Postal Service spokesman Azeezaly S. Jaffer said.
Twenty facilities have tested positive for anthrax out of 256 completed tests, Mr. Jaffer said. A mail-processing center in Trenton, N.J., and Brentwood "were the most significantly impacted facilities in our system."
"We are sanitizing potentially contaminated mail from both these facilities using electron-beam technology," he said. "We continue to sanitize mail from Brentwood Road at a contract facility in Lima, Ohio."


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