- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 30, 2001

Mail bound for the District will take at least a day longer to arrive as the U.S. Postal Service ships it to Ohio for sanitation.
The Postal Service has chosen Titan Corp., a technology and communication company, to kill any bacteria in the mail by using electron beams.
All mail normally processed at the Brentwood Post Office in Northeast is being shipped to the company's Lima plant until eight sanitizing systems are delivered to D.C.-area postal facilities next month.
The Brentwood facility processes all of the District's mail, including letters and packages for the White House, Congress and federal agencies.
The Lima plant, a facility of Titan subsidiary SureBeam, is 473 miles from the District, an eight- to 10-hour drive.
"To my understanding they are going to ship [daily] between three to five trucks with as many as 35 truckloads of mail and each containing some 10,000 to 15,000 pounds," said Bonni Mamies, a Postal Service spokeswoman in the Cincinnati District, which includes Lima.
Trucks make their journey with two drivers, so that fewer stops en route are needed. Federal law prohibits truckers from driving more than eight hours without sleep.
The first trucks arrived at the SureBeam plant Friday morning. More have headed west since.
"This was mail primarily intended for the White House and Congress, but it's all of the mail," Ms. Mamies said. "Not all the mail had actually gone through the [Brentwood] facility some of it was just backed up."
The Postal Service estimated that it would take eight hours to sanitize a truckload of mail.
But that will shorten to two hours once the process is in full swing, she added.
Postal agency officials said the mail is being sanitized as a safety precaution and that any delay will not be significant.
"When considering the amount of volume the Postal Service works with nationally we have 680 million pieces a day we may have to make some operational adjustments," said Victor Dubina, spokesman for the Washington Regional Post Office. "But I don't think there will be any delays in mail once the whole procedure is in place."
The agency shut down the Brentwood Post Office Oct. 21, trapping loads of mail that still await decontamination. That mail will be delayed indefinitely.
Incoming mail is being diverted to other regional facilities after being sanitized.
The irradiation machines, which are automated, can be tailored to a customer's needs. The smallest size would be between 250 and 400 square feet.
The contract, worth $40 million, offers the option of purchasing 12 more systems after the original eight are installed.
The sanitization system "works much like a television set, where it takes the electricity that goes into the electron gun, and instead of the electrons going on and painting a picture on your screen, it accelerates them to nearly the speed of light, forming a powerful beam," said company spokesman Will Williams. "When the beam is passed across the product, depending on the dose it either semi-sterilizes or fully sterilizes."
The process, referred to as irradiation, has been used to sterilize medical equipment for nearly a decade. It recently has been adopted for the sanitation of food.
Processing ground beef takes only a fraction of a second, Mr. Williams said. Sterilizing mail in bulk will take a few more seconds, but less than a minute.
The process is not harmful to CDs, videos or credit cards in the mail. But it exposes film, Mr. Williams said.
Titan was chosen because of its 20-year history with the Department of Defense, Mr. Dubina said.
"We did go to [Defense] and say 'What's the best? Where can we get that?'" he added.

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