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N.J. Postal Facility Shuttered by Anthrax May Open by Summer

November 29, 2002|From Associated Press

HAMILTON, N.J. — A New Jersey mail facility closed for more than a year because of anthrax contamination could be cleaned up in the spring and reopened by summer, a U.S. Postal Service official says.

The tentative timetable is the first given by postal officials for cleanup of the Hamilton building, which was contaminated last October when anthrax leaked from letters that were being processed there.

The cleanup in Hamilton will begin after anthrax is cleared from a contaminated facility in Washington, said Thomas Day, a vice president of engineering for the postal service.

During the decontamination, the buildings will be sealed and then fumigated with chlorine dioxide to kill any spores that remain inside, Day said in testimony before a state Assembly committee.

The cost of cleaning the two buildings is expected to be more than $100 million.

More than 1,000 employees were relocated when the Hamilton office closed. Local officials have been frustrated by the delay in cleaning up and reopening the building.

Five people died and 13 others were sickened last fall when anthrax-laden letters were mailed to NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw, the New York Post and the Washington offices of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.). All bore Trenton postmarks.

The FBI has yet to name a suspect, though officials say there are about 30 "persons of interest."

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