- The Washington Times - Monday, December 1, 2003

Twenty-six months after anthrax killed two workers in the main postal distribution facility for the District, employees will return to the building this week, and customers within several weeks.

“There actually will be people working in there on Friday,” said Deborah Yackley, a U.S. Postal Service spokeswoman.

Plans call for about 120 administrators and finance staffers to move into second-floor offices in the 14.6-million-square-foot Brentwood facility. They will be among the first of 2,100 staffers to return to the building in Northeast, which is less than two miles north of the U.S. Capitol.

Letters that passed through the facility en route to the offices of Sens. Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy on Oct. 9, 2001, from Trenton, N.J., were among a series of anthrax-tainted letters that ultimately killed five persons and sickened 17 others.

No one has ever been charged in the case.

Since last December, the huge warehouse and sorting complex has undergone a 17-hour fumigation process in which chlorine-dioxide gas was pumped throughout the sealed building. Office equipment, machinery, plumbing and other fixtures have been cleaned, rebuilt or replaced. Officials have estimated the total cost in excess of $130 million.

While the Washington postmaster and district managers are among the employees returning to the building this week, plans now call for a phased-in return of retail operations, mail collection, post office box service and bulk mail handling over several weeks.

“We’re going to have a grand opening for employees at the end of the month,” said Ms. Yackley.

“It’s been two years of disruption for their lives,” said Patrick R. Donahoe, chief operating officer for the Postal Service. He noted that while many workers displaced by the incident have been working elsewhere since Brentwood was closed following the deaths of two co-workers.

Brentwood has been renamed for those two victims, Joseph Curseen Jr., 47, of Clinton, and Thomas Morris Jr., 55, of Suitland.

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