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RESPONSE TO TERROR | THE ANTHRAX THREAT

Postal Union Leader Cites Health Safety Concerns

November 23, 2001|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The president of a major postal employees union says he will recommend that his members refuse to work in buildings where any trace of anthrax remains, because of continuing uncertainty about safety.

Two postal workers have died and others have been sickened by anthrax since tainted letters appeared addressed to the news media and members of Congress. Postal facilities in New Jersey and Washington remain closed for decontamination.

"It's a continuing concern that so much uncertainty continues to exist regarding the source of these infections," said Bill Burrus, president of the 360,000-member American Postal Workers Union.

Nationwide, the postal service has tested 278 facilities for anthrax and have found 21 to be contaminated to at least some extent; 19 have been decontaminated and reopened.

Medical experts differ about how much anthrax is needed to cause an infection, Burrus said, so "I'm telling my members we will not work in contaminated facilities. We will leave the building until it's tested clean."

Several postal facilities have been shut down; all but two have been cleaned and reopened.

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