Postal Service reopens Washington facility; tests for anthrax negative

The Postal Service reopened a government mail processing facility in Washington Wednesday night, after tests for the presence of anthrax came back negative.

"We do not have contamination at the federal mail sorting facility," said Thomas Day, the Postal Service's vice president of engineering, at a press conference Wednesday evening. The agency temporarily closed the building, on V Street, N.E., Tuesday after tests at a Federal Reserve mailroom indicated the potential presence of anthrax.

Postal employees at the V Street facility will be able to return to work Thursday, Day said. There was no evidence that any employee or member of the public has been exposed to any health risk, according to Day.

The V Street facility is used for processing mail that goes to several different federal agencies. After closing the building Tuesday, the Postal Service took 86 air and surface samples-none of which tested positive for anthrax, Day said.

Earlier this month, the Federal Reserve took 36 air and surface samples to test for the presence of anthrax in its mailrooms-which are not located at the headquarters building-and one of the samples tested positive. The Fed routinely tests its mail at a separate secure facility.

The Federal Reserve notified the Postal Service about the positive sample Tuesday, prompting the V Street facility's temporary shutdown. According to Day, the Fed has had false positives on anthrax tests in the past, so they performed more tests before informing the Postal Service of the situation. No specific piece of mail tested positive for anthrax, Day said.

The sample which tested positive for the presence of anthrax was sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for further testing.

The Postal Service's approach to the latest anthrax scare is markedly different from its response to Washington's anthrax attacks of October 2001.

During the initial days after that attack, Postal Service officials said they were relying on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for guidance. Health officials believed most postal employees were not at risk from anthrax spores because the spores were contained in sealed letters. Potter was so confident workers were safe that he held a press conference inside the Washington facility only a few days after the first anthrax-tainted letter was opened in the office of Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D.

Matthew Weinstock contributed to this report.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.