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:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security


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