- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 17, 2002

The Hart Senate Office Building, which closed three months ago because of anthrax contamination, will reopen at noon tomorrow, federal authorities said yesterday.
"We anticipate that the building will be open for normal business on Friday afternoon," said U.S. Capitol Police Lt. Dan Nichols.
The Hart building, which houses offices for half of the U.S. Senate's 100 members, was shut down Oct. 17 after an anthrax-laced letter was opened in Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle's office on the building's fifth floor.
Government scientists, who had hoped to reopen the offices in November, have scrambled during recent weeks to prove the success of an experimental fumigation technique used to rid the building of lingering anthrax spores.
In a statement issued yesterday, Capitol Police said the Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have finished reviewing the results of post-fumigation environmental sampling conducted in the building.
"Based on their analysis of the results, the CDC and EPA have declared [the Hart building] safe for reoccupancy," the memo said.
Scientists say they believe the letter sent to Mr. Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, contained billions of anthrax spores. It was discovered as anthrax was detected in dozens of locations around the District, New York and elsewhere, causing five fatalities and a national focus on bioterrorism.
Many on Capitol Hill yesterday were relieved that the Hart building is finally reopening. Congressional staffers normally assigned to the building have been working in cramped offices throughout Capitol Hill for the past three months.
"We are relieved to be able to get back into the Hart building," said one aide in Mr. Daschle's office. "Every effort has been made to err on the side of safety and caution.
"People are glad to no longer have to double-up on computers and share the same telephone," the aide said.
Two memos e-mailed yesterday to senators and congressional staffers said repeated efforts to cleanse the Hart building had "achieved the goal of eliminating viable anthrax spores."
"It is clean and safe for rehabilitation and reoccupancy," one of memos said. "Three months have passed since the initial incident and no one in the Capitol Hill community has become ill with anthrax."
But some workers yesterday were skeptical about the safety of the building. "This is the first time they did this [fumigation] process," said Adolphus Carpenter of the U.S. Capitol's furniture division. "No one can give us a 100 percent guarantee that the building is safe."
During the remediation, crews mainly used chlorine dioxide gas to cleanse more than 1 million square feet, specifically in Mr. Daschle's office and the ventilation ducts in the walls surrounding the office.
It took three attempts to effectively fumigate the areas with chlorine dioxide. Also used were floor vacuuming; wiping of desks, walls and other surfaces; and spot applications of chlorine dioxide liquid and an anti-bacterial foam.
The statement issued yesterday by Capitol Police also said a handful of anthrax-tainted offices in the House's Longworth and Ford office buildings had been declared safe.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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