- The Washington Times - Monday, March 14, 2005

THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Hazardous materials crews responded to the Pentagon and to a Department of Defense mail processing center in Baileys Crossroads yesterday after sensors detected the presence of a biological hazard.

Defense Department officials said that about 100 people were evacuated at about 10:30 a.m. from the Pentagon’s remote delivery facility, which checks letters, packages, construction materials and other items coming into the building.

An initial test detected the presence of anthrax, but further tests proved negative. A Defense Department spokeswoman said officials were taking precautions and that cultures were being taken from all people who might have had contact with deliveries. Those people also were given the option to begin antibiotic treatment.

“One of the things [officials] were very quick to point out is the Pentagon has a very robust irradiation policy for all our mail,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jane Campbell, a Defense Department spokeswoman.

“What the experts are saying, because the initial tests are designed to be very highly sensitive, is that even if a piece of mail had been irradiated and killed anthrax in the mail it would still test positive.”

Fairfax County fire department spokesman Lt. Raul Castillo said a biochemical hazard detector was activated at the mail-sorting facility at about 2 p.m.

The area was sealed off and employees were held inside while hazardous materials crews tested the facility.

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