- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 14, 2002

Liability disputes between waste management contractors and the U.S. government are delaying the cleanup of anthrax in the District's Brentwood mail processing center, sources close to the cleanup effort told The Washington Times.
Companies being hired for the job don't want to be held liable if traces of anthrax are found or if persons in Brentwood contract anthrax after the cleanup is completed, said one source speaking on the condition of anonymity.
"The worst case would be if somebody actually contracted anthrax," the source said.
Brentwood, which processed the anthrax-packed letter opened last fall in Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle's office in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill, has remained closed since mid-October when two postal workers died of exposure to anthrax spores.
The Environmental Protection Agency spent more than $23 million on contracts with the companies that cleaned anthrax out of the Hart builing. All of the companies were fully indemnified.
While Hart and other buildings on Capitol Hill reopened Jan. 22, substantial progress on the Brentwood cleanup remains to been seen.
The U.S. Postal Service has said it plans to use the same techniques and some of the same contractors used during the cleanup of the Hart building to rid Brentwood of anthrax contamination.
Postal Service spokeswoman Deborah Yackley said liability clauses in contracts are "an issue to be resolved before we go forward with [the cleanup]."
"For legal reasons we can't talk about the contracts until they're finalized," she added. "We're trying get the best contracts possible."
During the Hart cleanup, crews experiemented with pumping chlorine dioxide gas into the office of Mr. Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, and into the ventilation ducts of the walls around the office. Chlorine dioxide liquid was used to wipe down desks, walls and other surfaces.
The largest contract for the cleanup went to the Trenton, N.J.-based IT Corp. It was paid $4.75 million to assist the work and subcontract smaller companies involved in the effort.
IT Corp. is now working on the Brentwood cleanup. How much the company will be paid was not clear yesterday.
Delays in the Brentwood cleanup so far have largely been blamed on the building's mammoth proportions. Some private-sector scientists have said Brentwood's size about 200,000 square feet, compared with Mr. Daschle's 3,000-square-foot office suite makes using chlorine dioxide extremely dangerous.
Postal Service spokesman Jerry Kreienkamp said the delays stem from "a number of things," including "getting all of the I's and T's crossed in the contracts" and the fact that the Brentwood cleanup is "a much larger and more complex project" than the anthrax cleanup on Capitol Hill.
IT Corp. spokesman William L. Mulvey said he agreed with Mr. Kreienkamp but declined to comment on the specifics of his company's contract with the Postal Service.
"We fully expect all of the contractural issues to be resolved fairly shortly," Mr. Kreienkamp said.
He added that the Postal Service is planning a town-hall style meeting March 27 in Northeast to tell the community what will be done during the cleanup.
Since Brentwood closed, some of the District's mail-sorting operations have been moved into a warehouse at 3070 V St. NE that had been used in years past as a holiday overflow facility. Most of the mail is being sorted and distributed from other facilities in Southern Maryland where Brentwood employees have been put to work.
The shifting of employees has caused delays in mail delivery. Many Washingtonians have reported receiving mail this year with October and November postmarks.


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