Tuesday, November 06, 2001

Post office checking for anthrax

Inspection here called 'precautionary'

By Kristina Goetz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati's main post office will soon become the nation's 151st postal facility to be inspected for anthrax.

        Cincinnati was chosen from among the 266 postal facilities considered the country's largest processing and distribution centers.

        “This is a Postal Service initiative,” Gerry Kreienkamp, spokesman for the Postal Service's national headquarters, said Monday. “We are taking this action on our own to ensure the safety of our employees and our customers.”

        Local postal officials say they are anticipating an inspection at the office at Dalton Avenue and Liberty Street in the West End within a week to 10 days.

        “We have no reason at this point to believe there is anthrax in our facilities,” said Bonni Manies, spokeswoman for the Cincinnati postal district. “It's a pre cautionary measure and it will be done during the least-busy time of the day.

        “Employees are happy that it's going to be happening. It's a real peace of mind for them.”

        As of Sunday, 60 of the 102 facilities already tested nationwide had been deemed clear. Results from the other facilities were not yet available.

        Though no samples have tested positive for anthrax locally, the district — which handles mail for portions of Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio — has investigated nearly 150 potential threats. Results have ranged from chalk dust and soap powder to baking soda. None has been anthrax.

        Ms. Manies said local officials have not been given many details, but she expects a four-person inspection team to cordon off sections of the post office. They'll follow the flow of the mail as it enters and leaves the building. The team will also take swab samples from machines.

        The process will last about eight hours and results are expected back in a fewdays.


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