- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 22, 2002

Neighbors and businesses near the anthrax-contaminated Brentwood postal facility said everything is normal a week after more than a ton of chlorine dioxide gas was pumped into the building.
Last week's cleanup "had absolutely no impact on the store. It has been normal. Business as usual. No customers have complained," said Tan Bashir, an employee at Freedom Citgo, in the 1900 block of Ninth Street NE, less than a tenth of a mile from the Joseph Curseen Jr. and Thomas Morris Jr. Processing and Distribution Center.
Two anthrax-tainted letters, both postmarked Trenton, N.J., passed through the postal facility at 900 Brentwood Road, which was renamed in honor of the two men who died in October 2001 after they inhaled anthrax spores. The letters were addressed to Sens. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, and Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat.
Sample strips, which were spread throughout the facility, are being removed and analyzed by a company contracting with the U.S. Postal Service. If the samples reveal no signs of anthrax, the cleanup will continue, said Greg Frey, a Postal Service spokesman.
"We won't do any building or renovation until the samples come back with no growth" of anthrax, Mr. Frey said.
He also said the D.C. Health Department and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are likely to complete reviewing the sample strips in mid-January. The Postal Service is eyeing an April 2003 reopening.
But Dena Briscoe, a 22-year Postal Service veteran and the president of Brentwood Exposed, an employee support group, said she is hesitant about trusting the Postal Service, which resisted closing down the Brentwood facility in October 2001.
"They did all they could to keep it open. People died. We did lose people," she said. "The EPA has been pretty much on top of this, so I trust their input as far as what they say. I have a little more trust for the EPA versus the Postal Service."
Capital Auto & Truck Auction Inc., across Brentwood Road from the postal facility, held auctions yesterday and the previous Saturday afternoon, finishing in time for the fumigation to begin, said Mike Smithson, a company manager.
"There has been no impact, not a bit," Mr. Smithson said yesterday. "It looks like I had the same amount of people. A good-sized crowd."
He credited the D.C. Emergency Management Department and the Postal Service for notifying the auction of all steps they were taking to fumigate the facility.
"They've had good communication," Mr. Smithson said. "At first we were worried that they weren't going to communicate with us, but they did."
Paul Chase, who lives within a mile of the facility, said he was concerned about the poison gas so close to where he lives, but that fear did not keep him from the auction, where his daughter bought a car.
Mr. Frey, the Postal Service spokesman, said the estimated cost for cleaning the Brentwood facility and the Trenton facility, where the tainted letters were mailed, will exceed $100 million. "It's like putting a chemical plant inside a processing plant, and that will all have to come out at some point," he said.

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