- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 16, 2002

The fumigation of the sealed postal facility on Brentwood Road NE has been delayed after cracks were found in air hoses that would conduct deadly gas into the building to kill anthrax spores.
The hoses were to be used to test the decontamination system that would pump chloride dioxide gas into the 17-million-cubic-foot building in much the same way it was used to rid the much smaller Hart Senate Office Building of anthrax spores early this year.
"We're going through a lot of testing," said Deborah A. Yackley, spokeswoman for the U.S. Postal Service. "We may be able to do [the test] in about a week maybe."
A test fumigation of a portion of the building was to have been conducted last Saturday. But quality control assessments revealed leaks in 7,000 feet of the 6-inch-diameter hoses. About 25,000 feet of hose will be used in the next test and eventual fumigation.
The leaky hoses also forced the cancellation of a community meeting to advise nearby residents about the test and fumigation and to answer their questions about the safety of the operation. Miss Yackley said a public announcement will be made for a rescheduled meeting.
The special plastic hoses must contain 40 pounds per square inch of pressure for the fumigation. Postal officials said the hoses will be tested over 48 hours at about 20 pounds per square inch of pressure.
In preparation for the tests and decontamination, motorcycle police this week have escorted eight tanker trucks carrying about a ton of chlorine along New York Avenue NE to the Brentwood site. The trucks were rented from a New Jersey company by Ashland Inc. of Kentucky, which has contracted to conduct the test and fumigation with Sabre Oxidation Technologies of Texas.
The tankers do not contain chlorine dioxide, whose components chlorine and water must be mixed on site to create a foglike spray for decontaminating the building, postal officials said.
In September, the Environmental Protection Agency, which is overseeing the anthrax cleanup, reported that a test fumigation of the postal facility had failed. Last Saturday's canceled test was to have helped the EPA determine if a complete decontamination of the building can begin.
The Brentwood Road facility last month was renamed the Joseph Curseen Jr. and Thomas Morris Jr. Processing and Distribution Center in honor of the two postal workers who died of inhalation anthrax from contamination there during last year's anthrax letter attacks.
The building has been closed since Oct. 21, 2001, after anthrax-laced letters sorted there had been opened in the Hart building.
Five persons were killed and 17 sickened in the anthrax letter attacks nationwide. Investigators have not yet determined who sent the letters.
Tom Ramstack contributed to this report.


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