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Brentwood postal facility cleanup begins

(Published December 16, 2002)

The long-awaited decontamination of the cityís main postal facility on Brentwood Road NE began on Dec. 14 and is expected to be completed by Dec. 18, officials said.

Chlorine dioxide gas was pumped into the building on Dec. 14 to begin the process that is expected to kill any anthrax spores remaining in the building from letters that were processed there in October 2001. Officials said small amounts of the gas escaped from the building overnight, but they said measurements showed the concentration levels to not be harmful to the surrounding neighborhood.

A scrubber system, which converts the chlorine dioxide to water and salt, was being used to remove the gas from the building. When all the gas is removed from the building, workers in protective gear will enter the building to collect thousands of spore strips that were distributed throughout the building to test whether the process destroyed the anthrax.

Officials said laboratory tests to determine whether the decontamination was successful will take approximately 30 days. Postal officials have said they hope to reopen the building, which houses both the Districtís main post office and its main postal sorting facility, sometime this spring. The building was closed in October 2001 after two workers fell ill and died from inhaling anthrax.

Copyright 2002, The Common Denominator