- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 6, 2003


The U.S. Postal Service closed a government mail facility in the District last night while authorities ran tests to determine whether anthrax was detected in the building that handles mail for federal agencies.

Equipment that routinely monitors the air at the Naval Automated Processing Facility in Anacostia Wednesday indicated the presence of “small amounts of biological patho-gens, possibly anthrax,” said Rachael Sunbarger, a Homeland Security spokeswoman.

The Anacostia facility receives mail from V Street.

The Postal Service also announced the closure of 10 post offices in the District, Maryland and Virginia where the Navy also picks up mail, spokesman Gerry McKernan said.

The closures were called precautionary.

After the initial field test, eight air samples were sent to Fort Detrick, Md., for testing, said Lt. Cmdr. Edward Zeigler, spokesman for the Naval District of Washington. One sample tested positive for anthrax and seven tested negative, he said.

As a result, more testing was being performed.

The Fort Detrick test showed a spore count of 138, said Cmdr. Conrad Chun, a Navy spokesman at the Pentagon. Someone would have to breathe 8,000 to 10,000 spores to become infected by anthrax, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

No illnesses were reported, Miss Sunbarger said. Authorities said no one was given Cipro or any other antibiotic.

Few people work at the automated Anacostia facility. Cmdr. Chun said the workers wear protective clothing and that an air monitor worked as designed. Mail is screened there before going to a mail-handling facility nearby, he said. The facility also handles mail distributed to Navy personnel throughout the D.C. area.

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