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EPA to gas anthrax in Daschle's office

New positive anthrax tests in Florida, Connecticut

New positive anthrax tests in Florida, Connecticut


(CNN) -- From Connecticut to Florida, efforts to track and clean up the trail of anthrax sent through the mail took new turns Friday.

Cleanup crews were to fumigate the office of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-South Dakota, Friday night with chlorine dioxide gas in an attempt to kill all traces of the deadly bacteria.

It will be the first time ever such a process has been attempted to rid such a large space of anthrax, and Environmental Protection Agency officials are hoping that if it's successful, it will be a model for future cleanup.

The streets surrounding the Senate Hart Building where a Daschle staffer opened an anthrax-laden letter more than six weeks ago were blocked off Friday afternoon.

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Lt. Dan Nichols, Capitol Police spokesman, said the process was expected to begin at 6 p.m. EST and the chlorine dioxide gas will be pumped into Daschle's two floor office suite starting at approximately 8 p.m. EST.

The infected letters sent to Daschle and to Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, are blamed for contaminating several buildings in Washington and for killing two postal workers who contracted inhalation anthrax.

Latest developments

FBI officials told CNN they will not open the Leahy letter as expected on Friday. It was discovered and quarantined November 16.

Experts at Fort Detrick, a germ warfare research lab in Frederick, Maryland -- about 40 miles from Washington -- will open the letter, FBI officials said. They did not provide a timetable, but denied reports the letter would be opened by "robot."

Sources earlier had told CNN that authorities had established a precise written protocol on handling the letter and its contents as a way to minimize damage to any clues that could help determine the identity of the sender.

In Connecticut, an envelope sent to a home in Seymour -- near a community where a 94-year-old woman died of inhalation anthrax under mysterious circumstances -- has tested positive for a "tiny," trace amount of anthrax, Gov. John Rowland said Friday.

Authorities believe the envelope may have been cross-contaminated after coming in contact with one of two anthrax-laced letters sent to Senate offices after being postmarked in Trenton, New Jersey. A single spore was found on the Connecticut envelope.

In Boca Raton, Florida, 84 samples taken at a media company's headquarters where inhalation anthrax was contracted by two employees -- one of whom died -- have tested positive for the bacteria, the EPA announced Friday. Earlier tests had detected anthrax contamination at the American Media Inc. building, but only in a few areas.

The AMI building remains closed while the EPA and other health agencies decontaminate it.

The New York Area Postal Union accused the U.S. Postal Service on Friday of not doing a good enough job cleaning its facilities. Union President William Smith told reporters the Postal Service has tested only a limited number of areas in the New York buildings.

Smith, whose union includes more than 10,000 postal workers, said a demonstration is set for next Friday, December 7, outside the main New York post office, on Eighth Avenue, to express the union's dismay.



 
 
 
 



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