- The Washington Times - Monday, June 28, 2004

The central mail distribution center on Brentwood Road in Northeast is “back to normal” after years of havoc caused by the anthrax mailings in 2001, the U.S. Postal Service said Friday.

“We’re operating back to normal,” said Deborah Yackley, a Postal Service spokeswoman.

The Brentwood facility reopened in December after being cleaned and renamed in honor of two postal employees — Joseph Curseen Jr., 47 of Clinton, and Thomas Morris Jr., 55, of Suitland — who died from anthrax infection after handling tainted mail that wound up on Capitol Hill.

The Northeast postal facility was cleaned by a $130 million fumigation process to kill the bacteria, and Mrs. Yackley said officials continue to monitor the air inside. “Thousands and thousands of samples, and it’s all been negative since we fumigated,” she said.

The facility, located at 900 Brentwood Road NE, has undergone a shift in operations and jobs have changed, even though it still employs 2,000 postal workers, about the same number as before it was closed in late October 2001, Mrs. Yackley said.

She said the Postal Service has “increased the number of letter carriers that are operating out of that building,” which makes up for some employees who have been shifted to mail centers in Maryland for operations no longer conducted at the D.C. center.

“When we closed down the facility, we moved all the operations around to other facilities, and we found that service to our customers actually improved,” she said.

As a result, a mail-dating process known in postal circles as “canceling,” previously conducted at the D.C. center, is now performed at a postal facility in Capitol Heights.

Outgoing D.C. mail has been shifted from the D.C. center to facilities in Maryland for processing.

Additionally, government mail, which before the anthrax attacks was sorted and distributed from the D.C. center, now is handled from a separate facility on V Street in Northeast.

Another change involves removal of outdated processing equipment during the anthrax cleaning.

The removal opened space inside the center, making it available to the larger number of mail carriers now operating out of the facility.

Mr. Morris and Mr. Curseen were thought to have handled the anthrax-laced letter sent to the office of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat.

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also received anthrax-contaminated mail.

The attacks led first to the closing of several buildings on Capitol Hill before the postal facilities were shut down.

The anthrax case remains unsolved.

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