- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 15, 2003

From combined dispatches
Officials expect to know early this morning if tests performed at a government mail facility in Northeast reveal the presence of anthrax, a Postal Service spokesman said.
The Federal Reserve yesterday reported a positive initial test for the deadly anthrax bacteria at a processing center on V Street NE that checks all incoming mail, the U.S. Postal Service said.
"We have a single test result from one sample out of many that are done over at the Federal Reserve," Tom Day, vice president of engineering for the Postal Service, told a news conference last night.
"This appears to be a very isolated incident, and it is not clear at all specifically what, if any, piece of mail this came from. The Federal Reserve routinely tests mail delivered to its headquarters in Washington in a secure facility," he said, adding that the suspect item did not enter the headquarters building.
Twice since September 11 the Fed has reported positive initial test results for anthrax, though later tests have proved negative.
"There have been false positives," Mr. Day said. "Unfortunately, I believe the Federal Reserve has experienced some of that. But when you get a lab result that gives you a preliminary positive, you've got to take that seriously.
"We believe in the end we're going to have a nonevent," Mr. Day said of the latest incident.
Results of last night's precautionary tests are expected to be ready between 5 and 7 a.m. today, said Bob Anderson, a Postal Service spokesman.
In the weeks after the September 11 terrorist attacks, several letters containing anthrax spores were mailed through a New Jersey postal center to journalism offices in Washington, New York and Florida.
Anthrax-laced letters also were sent to the offices of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota and Sen. Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, both Democrats.
Five persons, including two workers at the Brentwood mail facility in Northeast that handled the letters, died and 23 others became ill from anthrax infection. The Brentwood building, which was treated last month with chlorine dioxide gas, remains closed.
No arrests have been made despite a $2.5 million reward. Law enforcement agencies said they suspected the anthrax mailings were the work of a disaffected individual and not of a network like al Qaeda.
Mr. Day said the Postal Service was performing "purely precautionary" tests for anthrax at the V Street NE facility, which has about 100 workers. If the tests are negative, the building will reopen today, he said.
He said there was no evidence of broad contamination or of risk to employees at the mail facility. "There's absolutely nothing that indicates we have a contamination problem here," he said.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide